Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dan Barber and I were dorm mates

May 2

T-U-F-T-S, T-U-F-T-S
Hurrah! Hurrah! for the dear old brown and blue!

You will probably never hear a graduate from Tufts University sing the old college fight song. It’s impossible to sing with a straight face and Tufts just isn’t one of those schools where spirit is taken seriously.
Here at Nation’s Restaurant News we have Gators and Bulldogs and an apparently endless supply of Buckeyes. I mean no disrespect to them, because senior desk editor Christi Ravneberg makes delicious chocolate-and-peanut-butter buckeyes (by contrast, on-site editor Elissa Elan has never brought in any Georgia bulldog for us to eat, although she will with very little encouragement holler “woof woof”; editor-in-chief Ellen Koteff has never given me a Florida Gatorade).
Yesterday I did sing part of Tufts’ fight song for a few of my colleagues (the lines above are preceded by — I kid you not:

Steady and true, rush along brown and blue,
Raise a mighty score today!
Fearless tear down the field and never yield
Brown and blue, brown and blue, for aye!

Very few of my fellow Jumbos (yes, we’re Jumbos; P. T. Barnum was a major benefactor of Tufts, giving the school, among other things, the carcass of the famous elephant after which we are all named) can sing that song, and fewer would. I bet you Dan Barber can’t.
Yes, it turns out that the executive chef of Blue Hill also went to Tufts. He graduated with a B.A. in English and Political Science in 1991, a year after I graduated with a degree in history. During his freshman year he lived on the second floor of Bush Hall. At the same time, I was a sophomore on the third floor.
[June 11, 2008 update: It turns out that Dan actually was the class of 1992, meaning he lived on the second floor of Bush when I was studying in China — sorry about that]
It’s a small world, they say, although it’s not really; we just tend to move in fairly tight circles.
I was interviewing Dan Barber because NRN is inducting Blue Hill into our Fine Dining Hall of Fame, which means someone has to write an article about the place.
Andy Battaglia, my good friend, former NRN colleague, editor at The Onion and occasional freelancer for NRN, wanted to write the Fine Dining Hall of Fame article about Blue Hill, as a recent meal he had at the restaurant was one of the best he’d ever eaten. But I beat him to it — something I am able to do easily since, as food editor, I get second dibs, after execuive food editor Pam Parseghian.
“you bitch!” Andy said to me in an e-mail.
But hey, Andy heads up the city section of The Onion for New York, which includes (serious) food writing. He can interview Dan for that.
Andy’s a Georgia Bulldog, by the way. I doubt you will get a “woof woof” from him, though.
When the interview with Dan was done, he said “stay for dinner.” It would have been rude for me to refuse.
What I ate and drank:

Roger Pouillon et Fils Brut Rose
garlic tuile
lightly grilled bread with dehydtrated carrots and salt
parsnip soup
apple-celery juice

spring vegetables, all from Stone Barns, some raw, some roasted, some marinated, with mushroom gelée and pistachios
Joh. Jos. Prüm 2004 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese

Poached egg with spring vegetable broth, and New Jersey asparagus
Raffault Chinon Rosé 2006

Asparagus and leeks with asparagus-caviar sauce and dehydrated root vegetables

pork shoulder, belly and cheek with fennel, plumped raisins, pine nuts and stinging nettle purée
Viñas Del Cenit 2003

Poached rhubarb with tapioca and rhubarb sorbet
Chocolate and peanut brownie topped with Maldon salt, served with banana ice cream


Anonymous said...

hmmm...down hillers, both.

Bret Thorn said...

Yes. Dan was in Bush for his freshman and sophomore years and then I think he was off campus. I was in very swanky Stratton freshman year, then Bush, then I spent my junior year in China and finished up in a spacious single in the 0-zone of Metcalf.
Were you uphill then, and if so, why?

Alexei said...

I still remember a meal I had at Blue Hill 5 or 6 years ago. They're very deserving of the hall of fame!

Talk about the mushroom gelee -- is it just a mushroom broth with gelatin, or something altogether more intriguing? Do tell.

Bret Thorn said...

The former, but I think that still qualifies as intriguing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I lived in the very swankiest of digs in Wren, Carmichael and West. I thought all the cool kids lived uphill.

Bret Thorn said...

Yes, all the “cool” kids lived uphill. The cool ones without quotation marks lived downhill.
(Not all of them obviously; my friends Karl Schatz and Markus Müller lived uphill for awhile; and I think even Jonathan Ray was there his freshman year.)

msh group said...