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At Blue Hill, It's President and Mrs. Foodie

By Garance Franke-Ruta
President and Michelle Obama can cross another restaurant off their foodie must-visit list.

In Manhattan on Saturday to see a production of the Tony-nominated August Wilson play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," President Obama and his wife Michelle, wearing a chic black dress and carrying a blue clutch, first traveled to Greenwich Village for a meal at cozy, romantic Blue Hill on Washington Place.

The visit to the unobtrusive, below-street level restaurant can be read as yet another sign that the Obamas are serious diners fond of top-notch restaurants that, coincidentally, also deliver a distinct agricultural political message.

Blue Hill is known in New York as one of the city's premier farm-to-table dining spots, and the former speakeasy space has been described by New York magazine as possibly "the best low-profile restaurant in town." Diners can opt for a regular menu of Hudson-Valley grown and -raised dishes or the full "Farmer's Feast," a five-course tasting inspired by the week's harvest.

A spokesperson for the restaurant declined to comment on the Obamas' visit, but the New York Daily News reported the first lady had two martinis and the president the wine that accompanied the tasting menu. The restaurant erupted in applause as the first diners stood up to leave.

Opened in 2000, Blue Hill is today part of a regional network of restaurants that includes Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantino Hills, N.Y., as well as the more casual Blue Hill Cafe there.

All draw heavily on produce and animals raised at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantino Hills and the 138-acre Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass. (You can see a map of the farm network and its food supply chain here.)

Chef and co-owner Dan Barber, like many advocates of locavore dining, is active in the contemporary food policy debate; a year ago he penned a New York Times op-ed riffing off the Obama campaign slogan to argue for "Change We Can Stomach" and a nationwide network of specialized small-scale farms.

Posted at 2:34 PM ET on May 31, 2009  | Category:  Washington Life
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Posted by: StewartIII | June 2, 2009 9:51 AM

I think it's great that president Obama continues to nurture his marriage by taking a well-deserved break. Too often presidents, like doctors, are married to their jobs and end up having affairs with whomever is around in order to relieve the tensions of the position.

Heaven knows that Bush certainly took enough vacations to his ranch in Texas, sometimes even with Condoleeza!

Posted by: Maerzie | June 1, 2009 11:36 PM

Farm-to-table dining allows farmers to get premium prices and allows diners to get the freshest, most efficient food. Locavore dining is happening all over the country and is saving small farms and helping to decentralize food production away from the corporate, agribusiness model (and its attendant energy, pesticide and fertilizer issues) towards local, smaller scale family farms.

You would think that "real" Republicans would applaud the decentralized, grass roots nature of the movement but no, big business means big politics and corporate masters must be served. Attack attack attack. They are, after all, The Party of No!

Posted by: thebobbob | June 1, 2009 7:31 PM

It's not just Presidential Expenses that need to be cut back:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124364352135868189.html

Posted by: JakeD | June 1, 2009 2:02 PM

maitresse:

No modern-day President takes a "vacation" day (as most Americans define that word) away from work -- but, let's concentrate on THIS Administration and THIS economic crisis we are going through -- you are aware that Obama hasn't even been in office 879 days and that GM filed for bankruptcy today, right? I would rather Obama doesn't make such a big show when the average American is hurting.

Bottom line: how much did this "date night" cost the U.S. taxpayers? Why is the White House "declining" to comment on that in particular? As for Obama "chose" not to fly AF 1 (I assume you are referring to the larger Boeing 747):

#1 any Air Force jet he flies is referred to as "Air Force One" and

#2 it may have cost LESS to take the bigger AF 1 than the THREE jets (and helicopters) they used instead.

Posted by: JakeD | June 1, 2009 1:59 PM

If he doesn't contribute to the local economy, he gets hell. If he stays in and only flys to Hawaii, he gets hell.
Give the man a break, and let him enjoy a night out with his wife !

I seem to remember GWB urging us to shop after 9/11 !

Posted by: info1 | May 31, 2009 10:43 PM

This is the same guy who was eating burgers at Five Guys earlier in the week?

Guess that puts me in the ranks of "serious diners fond a top-notch restaurants". And I always thought I was sort of a blue plate special guy.

Posted by: adjjones | May 31, 2009 10:31 PM

For those who think Obama and Michelle should never leave the White House, how many times did GW Bush fly to Crawford on Air Force One during his presidency, even during Hurricane Katrina and during the height of the Iraq war?

Posted by: swmuva | May 31, 2009 9:56 PM

All this means is we now have a President who does not fear his own electorate, and who, by the way, is sophisticated enough to understand an urban restaurant's menu and a Broadway play's dialogue. I know it's a big change for the dittoheads, but, do try and get it for a change.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | May 31, 2009 8:30 PM

All this means is we now have a President who does not fear his own electorate, and who, by the way, is sophisticated enough to understand an urban restaurant's menu and a Broadway play's dialogue. I know it's a big change for the dittoheads, but, do try and get it for a change.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | May 31, 2009 8:29 PM

How refreshing to have a president who isn't afraid to get out of the White House and live!
It's fun to go to NYC for the weekend and I'm glad that they get to go too.
Last time I checked, the President is our elected leader: not our national prisoner.

Posted by: dschalton | May 31, 2009 7:41 PM

At a time the American taxpayers are reeling our celeb prez jets off to NYC on our dime for a date? Hey everyone I would like to take my wife on a date can you please foot the bill? I will even drive myself!!

Posted by: shawnmatticks | May 31, 2009 5:03 PM
---------------------------------------

Um - just so you know, the President earns a living and pays for his own dinner dates with the First Lady.

OK Rush Oxy-limbaugh is on you'd better go catch your leader's show or you won't be able to parrot his words!

Posted by: onestring | May 31, 2009 6:13 PM

For those who lament the President taking his wife on a "date" on the "taxpayers' dime" -- you are missing the point. The President chose not to fly AF1, and he chose his destinations carefully. The President and the First Lady chose to support the ailing American theatre industry, as well as support the small, fair-farming American farmer by dining at Blue Hill. As far as I recall, President Bush's dates with Laura seemed confined to his ranch in Crawford, TX... I have no idea what industries he supported by going there, but I know that he didn't exactly take a Greyhound bus to get there.

Posted by: maitresse | May 31, 2009 5:55 PM

At a time the American taxpayers are reeling our celeb prez jets off to NYC on our dime for a date? Hey everyone I would like to take my wife on a date can you please foot the bill? I will even drive myself!!

Posted by: shawnmatticks | May 31, 2009 5:03 PM

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