Fresh Vision: Butterfield at Hasbrouck House
For CHRONOGRAM, SEPTEMBER 2017
The commercial celebration of locally, organically, and sustainably grown foods—also known as farm-to-table—is largely recognized not just as a dining trend, but as a social movement.
Residents of the Hudson Valley, which is home to hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, are plenty familiar with what ignited the movement—concerns around food quality, freshness, place of origin; environmental factors from carbon footprints to pollution and genetic modification; the treatment of animals; and the economic tribulations of small or family-owned farms—to name just a few.
While Aaron Abramson cares about the planet and loves kicking business to local growers, he isn't driven by social activism. His cultivation of a new food philosophy at Butterfield is rooted in a few other factors: the thrill of a challenge, a favorable division of labor, and an incomparability of flavor.
"That's the biggest thing I've learned being a chef: That the flavor of a vegetable straight from the ground is strikingly different." Executive chef Abramson is standing in the 80-year-old kitchen of Butterfield—the restaurant at the 260-year-old Hudson Valley inn recently reimagined as the Hasbrouck House—carrying out the ritual of making the daily bread.
"The vegetables you get at the grocery were pulled out of the ground 10 days, two weeks ago. That side-by-side comparison of the taste of a tomato that traveled across the country versus the one I just picked—it's unbelievable."
Hasbrouck House opened four years back, and since, it's experienced a complete overhaul of management. The stately stone house, cottage, and other facilities sit in the middle of a pastoral property just off Route 209, in the heart of Stone Ridge.
A world of amenities from spa services to nightly bonfires greets guests, while neighbors are welcomed to frequent morning yoga classes and summertime screenings of crowd-pleasing classics like Jaws and Back to the Future near an outdoor snack hut that serves local ales and cans of rosé.
Harvested to Order
Butterfield is being reimagined too. Abramson was brought on to helm the kitchen this spring, and already, he has no shortage of plans for the future: a resident forager, gardens all the way to the tree line, a Michelin star (or three).
He places a cup of flour on an electric scale as he relays his visions. For example: Because he believes freshly picked food has an appeal you can't man-make, he looks ahead to a day when a salad "harvested to order" is a Butterfield staple.
"We'll have one guy whose job it is," he muses. "When we get a ticket in: 'We need cucumbers! Go pick the cucumbers!'"