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Damon Baehrel


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#1 balex

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 10:46 AM

Anyone been? A friend just went.



#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 03:02 PM

Anyone heard of it?
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#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 03:17 PM

Ah. It's that place upstate that's impossible to get into.
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#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 21 November 2014 - 03:27 PM

I have eaten there every time I've been in Earlton.
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#5 Neocon maudit

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 10:55 PM

Have any of you enjoyed the privilege of dining at DAMON BAEHREL?  Sneak?  Orik?

 

Baehrel claims to have invented his style of hyper-local cooking — which he dubs “Native Harvest” — after casually realizing everything he needed to cook was growing on his property. Then he didn’t sleep for three days straight. These moments of inspiration happen regularly: One time, he says, it occurred to him that pine needles make the soil sour, and he could use their acidic properties – via pine-needle juice, powder, and pulp – to cure meats.

 

Mmm, pine pulp...

 

The chef is, by all accounts, extremely talented, and the myth-making allows him to charge high prices (around $400 per person for a multi-hour tasting menu).

 

If he charged reasonable prices for a [possibly very good] restaurant near Albany, perhaps the restaurant wouldn't be sustainable?  Or Baehrel would have to cook for many more customers than he felt comfortable?



#6 Lex

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 11:38 PM

Isn't hunter/gatherer cuisine by definition unsustainable in the modern world?  It requires large amounts of land to forage for wild ingredients and there are natural limits to how many people you can feed.  The domestication of wild grains and animals happened about 10,000 years ago as a solution to this problem.

 

There's a natural limit to how many hunter/gatherer restaurants you can have in a given area unless they source their ingredients from hundreds of miles away.


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#7 Neocon maudit

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 11:45 PM

Right, this is how agricultural societies outcompeted hunter/gatherers and took over most of the world.  The paleos and acolytes of Atkins may be right about diets comprising mostly wheat/rice/maize.  But five thousand somewhat malnourished carb-eaters in a bronze/iron-tipped phalanx tend to beat fifty super-fit hunter/gatherers.



#8 Suzanne F

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:25 AM

The story reminds me of the one years ago by John McPhee about some mystery chef somewhere in Jersey, which was later acknowledged to be mostly fabrication. What tripped them up at first (iirc) was the assertion that the chef found that white pepper, all by itself, was a preservative that would keep meat from spoiling indefinitely.

 

But afaik, all the items mentioned in the Grub Street piece are edible or can be used with food, although they take a lot of processing. Acorns especially need the bitterness removed by multiple boilings before they can be dried and ground. Cattails have four parts that can be eaten. Dandelion roots can be used like chicory as a coffee substitute. The seeds of yellow pond lilies have a flavor that resembles chestnuts, and their roots taste like potato. [This is all from Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods Cookbook, edited by David Hunt.] And remember that in the early days of New Nordic, when the purists were refusing to use anything not from there, they were using pine needles in place of lemon.

 

ETA: an acquaintance recently published a book, Acorns & Cattails A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field. So that chef is not as wacko as some might like to think.


Edited by Suzanne F, 24 August 2016 - 02:56 PM.

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#9 Rail Paul

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 05:15 PM

The New Yorker has an investigation into the Damon Baehrel restaurant situation.  Nick Paumgarten wrote it in the style of a John McPhee piece.  McPhee dd an expose of a hermit chef in the Poconos who didn't actually exist. Baehrel's restaurant was named one of the 50 best in America.

 

The premise is a skilled chef, preparing most meals from his own property, aided by a network of shadowy vendors, mobile Mennonite farmers, etc.  Very limited number of meals, all prepared by him. Ten year waiting list. Isolated property, buzz in, no visible staff. People fly in from all over the world, and take a limo to the farm.

 

Paumgarten lays out the evidence that much of this is hyperbole. The guy exists, the farm exists, the willow root bark salad exists. People do have wonderful meals there. But much of the story doesn't check out. The Mennonites who provide meat moved away. The reservations guy doesn't work for them any more. Several chefs who allegedly trained him say they don't know him.

 

Opinionated About is mentioned in passing, and favorably.

 

Paumgarten lays out a case that the hyperbole fills a need for the rugged individual chef, living off the land, even if he doesn't tick all the boxes.

 

 

http://www.newyorker...rant-in-america


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#10 Suzanne F

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 06:54 PM

Don't we have something about this in another thread?

 

ETA: Yes we do. Places we're curious about, starting here. Maybe a mod can merge?


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#11 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 07:29 PM

FWIW Andy Hayler has a long review of a meal there with pics


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#12 Rail Paul

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:09 PM

Thanks, Suzanne. That conversation didn't come up when I searched earlier today.

 

I'll merge that segment into this conversation later today


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#13 Lippy

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:12 PM

I have friends who have actually eaten an interminable meal there.



#14 Rail Paul

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:23 PM

I have friends who have actually eaten an interminable meal there.

 

The article mentioned some meals go on for four to six hours, and may have up to 22 courses.  That's a lot of fine china and silverware to wash...


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#15 Rail Paul

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 12:00 AM

Moved several items from the Places we're curious about thread into this one.


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