Watching the Top Chef finale reminded me of the best dish I had this summer. Hung, the eventual winner had a duck dish, whereby the duck was cooked sou vide. Blue Hill had one too. Like the winning dish on tv, my duck was not the world’s most attractive looking dish. Cooked skinless, the whole piece of meat was a uniform dirty pink. But the texture was so wonderfully smooth, like a piece of velvet ribbon, that you ignored how it look. It doesn’t hurt that each bite yielded tender, juicy pieces of meat, uncharacteristic of duck, so often tough and over-cooked. Treated in this matter, the duck seemed to have lost its usual gristle and fat. The gamey smell too, had been toned down. I was stunned by its perfect texture, much like the esteemed judges acted during the tv show.
What made the duck even more spectacular was the flavors that it took on from the accompaniments. The chef at Blue Hill masters the seasons, putting out the freshest ingredients in a most unobtrusive way that is original, subtle but definitely not bland. Sugar snap peas in season during July added crunch and natural candied sweetness, along with tiny pearl onions. The minty jus added brightness, and an unexpected lime glaze, brushed on with such restraint that you could almost miss it if you were not careful, brought a fresh acidity and summery scent that lingered long after the last piece of duck was consumed.
I too remember the wonderful berry and goat cheese dessert that was at once sweet, tart, creamy and cheesy at the same time; and the apricot that came at the end in place of petit fours, so full of amber juice it was threatening to burst. Last but not least the servers and bartender were the most natural, relaxed and hospitable people I’ve encountered this summer, that whilst I sat alone at the wide U-shaped bar on an early Saturday evening I did not feel lonely nor out of place. I remember being so guilty about having such a fine time at Blue Hill that I walked home from the village to Hell’s Kitchen, paying penance for consuming that many calories while reminiscing about what I had just eaten. With this reminder, it could be time again for another visit.
75 Washington Place (6th Ave & MacDougal)