December 22, 2004 | Ask Gael
I crave a taste of summer

         The stunning intensity of a mint-touched pea soup and the heady bouquet of the roasted lobster’s pistou puddle distilled from the plantings of upstate fields send Blue Hill soaring to new heights for me. Driven by his longtime back-to-the-earth commitment, chef-owner Dan Barber now commutes most of the week to Blue Hill upstate, at David Rockefeller’s Stone Barns Center (914-366-9600). But he races back to town after dinner with the farm’s aristocratic gleanings and chickens that owe their astonishingly silken texture not just to brining and careful cooking but to a messianic cooling process involving five icy water baths en route to the cold box. Harvest permitting, morels and favas will jewel that miraculous bird. Poached and peppered foie gras wears a necklace of rhubarb. A sweet lettuce sauce naps spring-greens ravioli. Watch for anything in a pea-pistachio ragout. Luscious not-too-cooked pork (we ask for it rarish) is a festival of carrot-orange and romaine-green. Passion-fruit soufflé is justifiably a house signature, but I’d go with the season and finish on an organic high with fruit from nearby orchards.

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