I recently had the pleasure of dining at two farm-to-table restaurants that focus on local, organic and sustainable food. Although I highly recommend these two fine New York establishments, even if you aren’t local, there is still good reason for YOU to eat local and seasonal, where ever you are! See below for more on that!
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is an exquisite and elegant farm-to-table restaurant in Pocantico Hills, NY. I have visited this 80 acre, four season farm once before, where we roamed the farm, pointing and cooing at all the various animals – chicks, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens and a greenhouse so lush I was debating picking and eating a head of local lettuce or kale right there.
This restaurant has no menus. Instead, the kitchen creates multi-course “farmer’s feasts” around the day’s harvest (and around the guest’s dietary preferences and restrictions). Diners experience the freshest possible ingredients, literally feet from where they were grown or raised. They do provide you with a small pamphlet of what food is in season on their farm each month. Our courses consisted of everything that was seasonal, local and picked fresh there - asparagus, parsnips, turnips, garlic, carrots, lettuce, immature eggs, pea shoots, radishes, burdock, and fresh dairy from their cows.
We ordered the 8 course tasting. The extremely attentive waiters kept bringing small dish after dish out – first a fresh crudité with baby carrots and baby radishes with their green tops intact, served on spikes placed on a board (seriously the BEST carrot I ever tasted!). Then came the parsnip (sliced before us by one waiter) with spring pea puree for dipping, then the sesame crusted roasted asparagus (one of my favorites…it melted in your mouth!), pea and asparagus chilled soup with a dollop of fresh goat cheese and then a huge slate plank the entire length of the table (no joke, they cleared our table before bringing it over!) with precisely placed green salad ingredients on the top half – asparagus and lettuces, drizzled softly with their creamy dressing and sweet balsamic reduction while the lower half of the plank had grated egg and parmesan cheese to graze each fork full over. This waiter (there was a new waiter for every dish that was brought out, which they explained in detail) actually instructed us on how to eat it!
At this point, we asked our initial head server what number course we were at. She said we haven’t even begun the courses yet!
This place was clearly not like other restaurants, but what really impressed me as a health coach was the true use of fresh, organic and local ingredients. All of the dishes stood on the strength of their ingredients and their fresh delicious taste. There were continuous touches that reminded the diner that we were still very much on the farm from where our dinner came.
Stone Barns creates a healthy, seasonal and sustainable food system that benefits us all. If you plan to go, I recommend heading up early. They welcome their patrons to walk around and explore the fields and farm.
Another night we dined at Henry’s Farm to Table in Milton, New York. This restaurant is unpretentious and concentrates on delivering quality local food rather than sourcing it all themselves. Cheese, meats and poultry come from nearby farms and many organic fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown on-site. The menu (yes, this place has one!) changes daily based on their own local harvest as well as the local farms they use.
Here we had the kale salad, multicolored carrots tossed with snow pea shoots and dried apricots with hibiscus ginger vinaigrette (the carrots were so fresh, my pet rabbit would have devoured this dish!), local artisanal lettuces (from their farm) served with sliced breakfast radish, carrots, and red peppers in a shallot vinaigrette, goat cheese and caramelized onion tart with beets (this dish was outstanding!) and a mushroom and English pea risotto with local exotic mushrooms, fresh peas, truffle oil and parmigiano reggiano (the mushrooms and peas were so tasty, I wouldn’t have missed the rice or cheese!)
You can really taste the difference when it’s fresh, local and organic. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself!
Regardless of where you live, when you eat what’s local to your area, organic and in season you will:
1. Be healthier - No nasty toxic pesticides/antibiotics or out of season food that disrupts and confuses your body; you’ll lessen your risk of getting colds and being sick!
2. Spend less money - If it has less distance to travel and there is an abundance of it, you’ll pay less for it! Also fewer trips to the doctor’s office because you’re healthier (see #1!)! Cha-CHING!
3. Promote farming in your area - You’ll be encouraging healthy use of land near you and be giving your local economy a boost
4. Lessen your environmental footprint – Buying local uses less oil and gas for transportation and refrigeration; also you won’t be patronizing factory farms which concentrate waste and toxins in one place, destroy biodiversity, and rely very heavily on toxic pesticides for the crops and antibiotics/drugs for the livestock (all of which pollutes our waters, soil and bodies!)
5. Taste the difference! - Take one bite of a fresh, local, organic vegetable or grass fed burger (if you’re so inclined) and you’ll know what I’m talking about!
What’s local and in season now that you are enjoying or can try? Share below, I’d love to hear from you!