THE FRENCH LAUNDRY

(source)

The French Laundry is a symphony of culinary genius. It has many talented musicians and the finest instruments that all come together to perform beautiful edible music. Our meal was so much more than just food but a form of performance art with many sensory delights. This restaurant has been on my bucket list for many years and we finally procured a coveted reservation. We would like to share this memorable meal with you.

“Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayan” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oyster and White Sturgeon Caviar

The French Laundry is located in Yountville, California which is very close to the current wildfires.  They were closed the previous week and assisted in feeding responders. We arrived for our 5:00 pm reservation. The building is nicely landscaped and does not give you a sense of the things to come. That is until you walk into the courtyard and see the window surronded showcase kitchen. We see numerous chefs, scurrying around the kitchen doing various food preparations. We start to feel  the greatness to come.

HAWAIIAN HEARTS OF PEACH PALM
Winter Radishes, Brokaw Avocado Mousse and Tender Garden Herbs

We were seated in a small dining room and were presented with an  I-Pad menu. We had several options of tasting menus. We could choose a vegetarian option or the more popular all-inclusive Chef’s Tasting menu. We could order upgrades with foie gras, caviar, and even white truffles. We choose to start out with the basic tasting menu and I use the term basic with a smile on my face.

SAUTÉED FILLET OF PACIFIC YELLOWTAIL
Garden Eggplant “Conserva,” Nantes Carrots, Nasturtium Leaves and Sweet Curry Emulsion

I want to touch on the service as being an art form. We were served in flights beginning with a server bringing the proper utensils. She would suddenly appear with a knife, fork, spoon, (bone for caviar) in multiple combinations. When she would appear we knew the next course would shortly follow. When our food was delivered it would be delivered by sometimes two or more waiters. The dish would be served in unison like a choreographed dance. The waiter would then describe the dish. We tried our best to remember what he or she had said but it was all a little overwhelming at the time.

SLOW COOKED BIG ISLAND ABALONE
Navel Orange, Belgian Endive, Cilantro Purée, Marcona Almonds and “Maltaise Mousseline”
“BREAD AND BUTTER”
Bitter Cocoa Laminated Brioche and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm Butter

No two ingredients were repeated in this meal. Each dish had many components. This brought up the question; how do we eat this? Do we eat the dish as a whole or should we savor each ingredient? There is no right or wrong answer. We would do both. Each ingredient had its own merit and flavor. When combined with the other ingredients a marriage of flavors transformed the parts into a whole. Oh the dilemma of fine dining.

SALMON CREEK FARMS KUROBUTA PORK
Chestnut “Ravioli,” Garden Turnips and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce

My beloved crumb sweeper appeared with a silver plated crumb tray and a matching fine tooth comb. You should have seen the smile on my face. We explained why I was so amused so she came back several times to sweep the table even though it was not needed.

HERB ROASTED ELYSIAN FIELDS FARM LAMB
La Ratte Potato Purée, Creamed Garden Kale, Amarosa Potatoes and Spanish Caper-Brown Butter Jus
CHARCOAL GRILLED SNAKE RIVER FARMS “CALO TTE DE BŒUF”
Matsutake Mushrooms, Broccoli Purée and Rosemary-Pine Nut Jus

One thing we noticed was how rich and flavorful the dishes were. Butter, cream and salt was used throughout. Meats and fishes were highly seasoned. I would even say they were seasoned to perfection. I did notice I was consuming a large quantity of water. When I judge barbeque water consumption also rises because of the high level of seasoning. It was all a good thing. We did have our choice of sparkling or plain water which was refilled after every course.

This was a memorable meal. The final act was when they filled our table with numerous desserts. The waiter even brought us a bag with two tins of sugar cookies to-go. He asked us if we wanted to see the kitchens were the magic occurred. We took him up on this offer to witness a beehive of culinary activity. What a fun and flavorful meal. There is a reason this is a Michelin Guide 3-star rated restaurant and we got to experience it.. Someday we hope to return.  When I returned home I hit the couch and still had a euphoric feeling from the symphony of culinary genius we had just experienced.