My posts have been sparse (ok, nonexistent) for a little while. I attribute this mostly to the fact that I usually blog for a few minutes watching TV in the evening, and evening TV watching has recently evaporated from my schedule.
While we were on a glorious grown-ups vacation in Napa, I was determined to blog a little each day. Then I soon found that the time I could have used for blogging, I preferred to use drinking wine and reading. I can’t say that’s a bad use of time, I got through 3 books in a week! But here we are, back at home. I was supposed to go off to a half-marathon this weekend, but for various reasons I’m not going. Instead, I’m on the couch with Baby Beez, she’s watching the Power Rangers Movie, I’ve got work to do most of the day, and later I’ll put on the sauce for spaghetti & meatballs, and we’ll have a family movie night to see Pixels. Even with the several hours working, I dare say it’s a lovelier weekend than driving to the mountains to run 13 miles by myself.
But now, on to the topic of interest.
Mr. Beez and I are destination eaters. We will travel specifically for the purpose of visiting particular restaurants, and for our vacation this year, I hustled and hustled and got us a very coveted reservation at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. It’s listed as a “French” restaurant, but the cuisine does not fit neatly in that description. You certainly will not find boeuf bourguignon on the menu here. I’d describe it more as creative, experimental and fresh.
We did visit Per Se in 2012, and found that The French Laundry was extremely similar to it’s east coast sister restaurant. The cuisine is virtually the same and the service at both is obsessively attentive. I was surprised that the pacing at The French Laundry was a little faster. Dinner there, even with our million courses, was about 2 hours. At Per Se, even with a 10:00 pm reservation, we strolled leisurely through cocktails and dinner and didn’t leave until nearly 2:00 am.
The French Laundry offers a chef’s tasting and a tasting of vegetables each evening. The chef’s tasting includes a number of upgrades that you can select to “personalize” the meal. Mr. Beez selected some upgrades, I selected others, and ultimately we both got to try everything.
I do not have the sophisticated vocabulary to share in detail how gorgeous these dishes were. They’re perfectly portioned– a mere 3 bites, to pack the most potent sensation of the flavors, textures and contrast, without your palate adapting. Since my description cannot do it justice, here are my pictures and the menu for the evening.
“Oysters and Pearls”– “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
Royal Ossetra Caviar– Cantaloupe “Gelee” and Champagne “Granite” (upgrade option)
* * *
Garden Strawberry Salad– Marinated Fennel, Marcona Almonds, Nasturtium Leaves and Greek Yogurt
“Mousse de Foie Gras en Gelee”– K&J Orchards Nectarines, Brentwood Corn and Garden Purslane (upgrade option)
* * *
Japanese Blue Nose Medai– Preserved Green Tomatoes, Garden Cucumbers, Brokaw Avocado Puree and “Salade Bearnaise”
* * *
Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster– Crispy Picholine Olives, Globe Artichokes, Fino Verde Basil and Spicy Tomato Emulsion
* * *
Wolfe Ranch White Quail– Toasted Buckwheat “Rouelle,” Pickled Beet Puree, Pearson Farm Pecans and “Beurre Rouge”
Black Winter Truffle “Ravioli”– Duck Gizzard “Boudin,” Double Chicken “Bouillon” and Shaved Australian Black Winter Truffles (upgrade option, this was Mr. Beez’ absolute favorite dish of the night. He adored those truffles”
* * *
Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf”– Brisket Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Roasted Garden Squash, Kettle Garlic Custard and Black Olive Jus (for me, my favorite was tied between the lobster and the boeuf, both were so buttery, flavorful and delicious)
* * *
Andante Dairy “Acapella”– Jacobson Orchards Peaches, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Black Winter Truffle Confit
* * *
Assortment of Desserts– Fruit, Ice Cream, Chocolate and Candies
By “assortment” they do not mean you pick from an assortment. Rather, you are served dessert after dessert after dessert after dessert. We were served 10 desserts in all, and then were sent home with even more desserts. It was, as you would expect, amazing. If you are adventurous diner and excited to try unique, unexpected combinations, you will be be astonished by what you are served at The French Laundry. Much like Per Se, the dishes are so dazzling (and the price so, well, insane) that this will probably be our only visit. It was a memorable one, and was truly the highlight of our vacation.