Image: Jonathan Young
February 02 2012
Christina Ohly Evans
The latest offering from the talented team behind New York’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurants is an online emporium offering everything from delicious Hudson Valley honeys to stylish blown-glass decanters (second picture, from $285). Those always on the lookout for perfect house presents – hostess gifts, small birthday offerings for foodie friends – will be able to stockpile gifts both large and small. A bonus: all are delivered in exquisitely simple packaging.
While it is noted chef and author Dan Barber who garners most of the Blue Hill press, it is his design director sister-in-law, Laureen, who has brought this e-commerce venture to life. With her background in marketing and graphic design, she is the person responsible for ensuring that the look and feel of each restaurant – not to mention the aesthetic integrity of every last tabletop piece – reflects the philosophy of the locally sourced, seasonal food that is served. She’s managed to extend the physical Blue Hill experience (and a visit to either the city or country outpost is a tasteful treat for all the senses) to this website.
The Blue Hill motto is “know thy farmer”, and a browse around the carefully curated Pantry section leaves one feeling like an informed local. There are jams (first picture, $14) both fanciful (blueberry currant) and familiar (raspberry), freshly roasted coffee beans (third picture, $13.50), and Blue Hill Granola ($8), a mix of organic spelt flakes, golden flax seeds and just a smidge of honey (from grower Fred Kirshenmann’s nearby farm).
The Table section, meanwhile, holds birch-bark porcelain vases ($65-75) in varying shapes and sizes, as well as unique handmade grain plates (set of four, $120), by artist Dana Brandwein Oates. The latter cleverly incorporate the textures of wheat and spelt (courtesy of the nearby Lakeview Organic Farm) into pressed porcelain. A full set arrived beautifully nestled inside a handmade slide-top pine and birch box. Even the story behind this minimalist crate is inspiring; each one is handcrafted by the Nezinscot Guild of Turner Village, Maine, a small company that employs people with conditions such as autism.
On to the Kitchen section, where there are hand-cut and sewn linen guest towels ($32) complete with easy care instructions – a miracle! – and The Kitchen Sink Collection ($42), a sweet canvas tote featuring bottles of red-currant hand lotion and lemon-thyme dish soap. Both make perfect hostess gifts, if you can bear to part with them.