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RPMcMurphy

Ninety Acres in Peapack

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"Craig Shelton of The Ryland Inn fame is now at a property in Texas called Dos Brisas. They have 1,500 acres and the best organic farmer in the world...and stupidly rich ownership that is dedicated to "the cause." And guess what? They can't supply all of their own needs either. It ain't possible... "

 

Craig Shelton left Dos Brisas in June 2011.

 

 

Ha...shocker...

 

Where is he now?

 

Point still sort of holds though...Shelton just made it a local connection. That place is fully dedicated to the locavore movement, has 1,500 acres, a world class agricultural team and still couldn't satisfy their own needs.

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BHSB still buys aplenty at USGM, fwiw.

 

ETA: thassa lotta letters, Rico.

 

 

ha!

 

And that's a great point. BUt if Blue Hill is buying food from 50 miles away, do they have less street cred than if I buy my lettuce from a guy 45 miles away?

 

Brief story. First meeting with a potential *investor* who wanted a locavore prepared food market and bakery.

 

"I want everything in here to come from within 75 miles of our back door."

 

me: so...where do you propose we buy the flour for the bakery from?

 

her: "well, uh, I hadn't really thought of that."

 

me: obviously...and you don't want to sell anything citrus? or use olive oil? or Maine Lobsters? Gulf Shrimp? Red Snapper from Florida? Vermont Maple Syrup? how about salt...you know any Salt mines in NYS?

 

and you get the rest of the idea...

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BHSB still buys aplenty at USGM, fwiw.

 

ETA: thassa lotta letters, Rico.

 

 

ha!

 

And that's a great point. BUt if Blue Hill is buying food from 50 miles away, do they have less street cred than if I buy my lettuce from a guy 45 miles away?

 

Brief story. First meeting with a potential *investor* who wanted a locavore prepared food market and bakery.

 

"I want everything in here to come from within 75 miles of our back door."

 

me: so...where do you propose we buy the flour for the bakery from?

 

her: "well, uh, I hadn't really thought of that."

 

me: obviously...and you don't want to sell anything citrus? or use olive oil? or Maine Lobsters? Gulf Shrimp? Red Snapper from Florida? Vermont Maple Syrup? how about salt...you know any Salt mines in NYS?

 

and you get the rest of the idea...

 

The idea of locavore dining is more impressive than actually experiencing it. By March, when all the carrots, potatoes and turnips are gone from the larder, and new spring greens aren't in yet, there isn't a lot of fresh local food in NJ and NY.

 

You might be surprised, though, to learn that New York State is among the largest producers of fine and highway salt in the US. There are extensive mines around Retsof and in the areas west of the Finger Lakes. Most of NJ's highway salt comes from the deep mines in that region

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE highway salt on my tomatoes...some toasted brioche, herbed mayo, few slices of beefsteaks and a sprinkle of highway salt...mmmm...that's living

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE highway salt on my tomatoes...some toasted brioche, herbed mayo, few slices of beefsteaks and a sprinkle of highway salt...mmmm...that's living

 

in our part of the world, it's free. Just go out and sweep it up. Doesn't get any more local than that.

 

(I worked on a grounds crew for a while, and shoveled snow into the spreader on the back of a plow truck. Nasty stuff. The dust got into your hair, your eyes, your pores. It was a great workout, shoveling two tons of salt in a few hours, but sweat plus salt dust is not a combo I'd ever want to encounter again.

 

It made me respect the firemen on the old steam engines who shoveled four tons on coal in a 12 hour shift. went home for a few hours, then repeated that for another 12 hours. Six days a week. For forty years. You rarely saw a fat fireman in pictures of steam-era crews.)

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This is what's so radical about Noma. They really DO this. Even though it means that most of what they serve is dust and detritus.

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE highway salt on my tomatoes...some toasted brioche, herbed mayo, few slices of beefsteaks and a sprinkle of highway salt...mmmm...that's living

 

Come on, everyone knows you put highway salt on your free-range squirrel.

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE highway salt on my tomatoes...some toasted brioche, herbed mayo, few slices of beefsteaks and a sprinkle of highway salt...mmmm...that's living

 

Come on, everyone knows you put highway salt on your free-range squirrel.

 

highway salt also goes well with road-kill <G>

 

On my last visit to Ninety Acres, we saw a mother deer and very young, tiny fawns drinking from the brook in the county park section of the property. No venison or locally sourced fawns were on the menu that night. That would have been a perfect opportunity to claim locally raised venison on locally grown greens.

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And ok, I'll just throw in again that Natirar is not listed on the Virgin website as one of their destinations. His PR folks told me at the time of opening that it was not one of theirs.

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And ok, I'll just throw in again that Natirar is not listed on the Virgin website as one of their destinations. His PR folks told me at the time of opening that it was not one of theirs.

 

Every piece of promotional literature I've seen before and at the time of opening makes reference to Richard Branson, and he appeared in the first go around of pictures on the Natirar site. Here's a publicity piece from ProGoLuxury that I extracted a few minutes ago. The headline is "Sir Richard Branson's Natirar Resort":

 

Sir Richard Branson has just opened phase one of the first U.S. outpost of his Virgin Limited Edition Collection of luxury retreats, a culinary center, resort, spa and private club called Natirar 45 minutes from New York City in the countryside of New Jersey.

 

Situated on a bucolic 500-acre estate that was once the summer home of King Hassan II of Morocco, and centered on a historic 40-room 1912 mansion, the key element of the property is the 90 acres surrounding the house itself.

 

The first phase of the project is the Ninety Acres at Natirar Culinary Center, housing a restaurant, bar / lounge, cooking school, wine school and working farm.

 

The goal is to create a farm-to-table epicurean experience where many of the restaurant and cooking school ingredients are cultivated on site.

 

Executive Chef David Felton is also working with local farmers in New Jersey to supply the remainder of the products.

 

Naritar, January 11, 2010

 

Here's a Yahoo News article from the same time period

 

A new luxury resort is opening on an estate in New Jersey with Sir Richard Branson as a partner.

 

The Natirar resort will be set in a 40-room mansion on 90 acres of a 500-acre property in Somerset County, N.J. The estate, located about 45 miles from New York City, was once owned by King Hassan II of Morocco.

 

The first phase of the project, the Ninety Acres Culinary Center, opens Dec. 1 with a restaurant, cooking school, wine school and working farm on 15 acres. The culinary center will support local agriculture, with some ingredients grown onsite. The restaurant will offer a New American farm-to-table menu with entrees ranging from $26 for steak to $32 for lamb. Other choices include pizzas, lobster and duck.

 

The resort with guest accommodations will open in the summer of 2010. Promoters are trying to build a five-star buzz, promising "a bucolic setting" that combines state-of-the-art technology, personal service and a 21st-century lifestyle with the grandeur of the past. Facilities will include guest cottages, media room, 4,000-square foot pool, tennis courts, fitness facility, croquet field and greenhouse. Guests will also be able to go horseback riding, fly-fishing or try their hand at gardening or farming.

 

The land, which includes waterways and woodlands, is owned by the county and public access to about 400 acres will continue for hiking, biking, jogging and picnicking.

 

The land for the resort is being leased to a businessman, Bob Wojtowicz, with whom Branson is partnering. Branson owns Virgin Airlines. The two men met after Wojtowicz vacationed at Branson's Caribbean getaway, Necker Island, which gave Wojtowicz the idea to create a resort in the U.S.

 

Branson Partner nj resort

 

My total, wild ass guess is Mr Branson's company was interested in developing a resort at Natirar, and found Mr Wojotwicz a respected and competent partner. Virgin fronted the money to get the lease on the 90 acres. But, NJ's archaic and Byzantine liquor laws required that everyone who was an officer or 10% shareholder in Virgin and its resort division had to go into an indepth suitability review. So, it was easier to sublease the Ninety Acres restaurant to Mr Wojotwicz and let him go through the suitability process.

 

Just a guess. But it would explain the abrupt shift in focus during a few months in late 2009 to early 2010.

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Yes, he was there - I interviewed him. But he and his PR people all said he was there as a guest. Just because something is in print doesn't mean it is true.

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Yes, he was there - I interviewed him. But he and his PR people all said he was there as a guest. Just because something is in print doesn't mean it is true.

 

OK

 

Thanks to the Wayback machine, here's a 2008 grab of the Natirar website, in which Virgin Resorts announces the future opening of its Natirar resort. Sir Richard is amply quoted, and notes Virgin purchased the site. This website apparently remained in place through mid 2009, when it was changed and the focus shifted from the resort to the Ninety Acres restaurant.

 

I have no doubt that as the resort project became mired in land use issues and hearings, which it did in 2009, Virgin decided to turn over the operation of the site to a competent and respected local partner, and go forward with the restaurant project. Equally, I have no doubt that the 99 year land lease remains with a Virgin entity, as does the ownership of the buildings.

 

The 2009 and 2010 press clippings and articles in the luxury press "should" have been developed from press kits provided by Ninety Acres and Natirar. If reporters somehow all decided to add the same text about Sir Richard opening the restaurant, I'd say that was an unusual coincidence.

 

I'd be surprised if Virgin or Sir Richard owns the restaurant, but I'd be amazed if they don't own the building and the land lease underneath it.

 

Wayback

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Ninety Acres will offer a "big California wines" and "dry aged beef" dinner. The restaurant has top notch partners with DeBragga offering the beef, and local wine store 56 degrees providing the wine guidance.

 

35 day and 65 days aging would seem to produce an exceptionally well aged beef.

 

DeBragga has perfected the Wagyu by dry aging it (the only one known to do so ever!) for 65-70 days. This unparalleled beef will be accented by a spiced prune puree and ginger scented plums, and served with a Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. The purpose of this dinner is to experience the vast differences in pleasure provided by each of the meats, especially when complemented by such well-made wines.

 

Ninety Acres

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DeBragga has perfected the Wagyu by dry aging it (the only one known to do so ever!) for 65-70 days. This unparalleled beef will be accented by a spiced prune puree and ginger scented plums, and served with a Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. The purpose of this dinner is to experience the vast differences in pleasure provided by each of the meats, especially when complemented by such well-made wines.

 

Wrong. Oh that Debragga Marketing Dept. :) .

 

We did it about 10 years ago, back when prime prices had skyrocketed. I had my butcher (Wotiz Meats in Passaic), put up a Wagyu type 179 as it became very price competitive and cost effective during that insane price environment.

 

Not to say that this isn't a very good way to eat this--in small portions, I might add. I et some of this at a Roberta's tasting last week. Rich like cheese custard. Carlo said it was 80 day. he showed it to us raw. It did remind me of some T5 I'd seen a few years ago. The marbeling was that intense. I assumed it was sourced from Debragga.

 

Vaguely related; This evening I served Cote de Boeuf from 3 109s that were put up last May. Right on the edge, but very similar to the piece of Short Loin we et at Roberta's.

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