Our meal started with an asparagus soup amuse, on what the waiter said was the last weekend of asparagus season. The distilled essence of asparagus this soup achieved I can still almost taste: light, not undersalted, transcendental. We asked that each of the four courses to follow be brought out separately as we were sharing and our waiter happily obliged.
12 Greens salad with eggs came first: wonderful flavors here, all different bitters and the eggs of course from the farm and fresh. Next was an asparagus pate which again was just brilliant - chef Dan Barber clearly a magician with the stalks. Of our two main dishes, black seas bass in a Spring vegetable broth with asparagus, zucchini and fennel came first, each element bursting with its own flavors. The Barns' own Berkshire pork 3 ways followed: belly, sausage and loin. After a bottle of Gruner Veltliner that carried us most of the way through the meal, we shared a split of the 1998 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza for the pork: a lovely match. As we were verily the last table to leave, the kitchen kept sending out desserts to go with our white peony tea: Rhubarb soup, basil soufflé, pistachio ice cream…the lot of them on par with any dessert you might care to compare.
However this stellar meal - surely one of the best to be found in New York - was just a primer for the real reason for our trip up the Hudson: a pilgrimmage to Mecca, which here at CQ refers to the Michael Heizer installation at Dia Beacon. Titled North, East, South, West, a more moving piece of art we don't know that we've ever seen. Each of the four twenty-feet deep inversions that comprise the piece has a different geometry: a compound cube, a cone, a wedge, and a conical section; and each, inserted into the museum floor, is lined with Cor-Ten steel whose color - an orange/brown, changes as it oxidizes. The uncanny volumes in this sculpture, when seen close up, redefine relationships between body, solids and void in spiritual as well as in physical terms. If you make an appointment to be up at Dia first thing in the morning you can walk within the walled off space right up to the pieces, lie on the floor and peer into them until you weep. We certainly did, then went straight out to buy bullet-proof vests for our next pilgrimmage: Heizer's Nevada installation, City.