French Laundry

We were extraordinarily lucky to be invited to the 20th anniversary of the French laundry. We have been going to the French Laundry for over 19 years and have had the pleasure of tasting the cuisine of each executive chef. This special dinner featured French Laundry classics. The letter Thomas wrote to us at the dinner speaks volumes – what a wonderful person. This is why the French Laundry is our go to restaurant in the States and why we will continue to be supportive clients and more importantly friends.

Thomas 20th Letter

I will let the photos tell the story of our incredible evening.

F- Champagne

Champagne to start

F- Cornet

Cornets

F- Gougeres

Gougeres

F- Oysters and pearls

“Oysters and Pearls”- Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviaar

F- Salad

Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm – Brentwood Corn, Garden Radishes, Pickled Chanterelle Mushrooms and Wild Purslane

F- Bread after salad

Bread Service

F- Wine after salad

Next wine

F- Skate

Atlantic Skate Wing “Poelee”, Caramelized Savoy Cabbage and Whole Grain Mustard Emulsion

F- Lobster

Not a great photo – half eaten!

“Peas and Carrots” – Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Pea Tendril Salad and Sweet Carrot Butter

F- Wine after Lobster

Next Wine

F- Ragout

Another mostly eaten dish – my photographer was enjoying himself and eating instead of snapping!

“Degustation de Pommes de Terre” – Ragout of Garden Potatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Strauss Butter and Shaved Australian Black Winter Truffle

F- DuckF- Duck 2

Wildflower Honey Lacquered Liberty Farm Pekin Duck – Poached Brooks Cherries, Garden Turnips, “Foie de Canard” and Watercress

F- Beef

Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf” – Crispy Bone Marrow, Garden Beans, Oregon Cepes, and Blanquette de Champignons

F- Gateau

Gateau de Bleu D’Auvergne – Stewed Blueberries, English Walnuts and Cutting Celery

Not pictured: Photographer quit!

Strawberries and Cream – Mascarpone Sherbet with Tellieherry Black Peppercorn and Strawberry Syrup

Il Flottante – Thaition Bean Creme Anglaise, Poached Swiss Meringue, Valrhona Chocolate Cremeux and Spun Sugar

There is no way to convey what this evening meant to us. We feel like we are a member of the French Laundry family and we never take that for granted. We consider ourselves blessed.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

 

This recipe is from Epicurious and is delicious.

yield

Makes 6 servings

This is also terrific with yellow tomatoes. Garnish with thin cucumber slices and some chopped red onion, if desired.

 

ingredients

  • 2 pounds large tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound country-style bread, crust removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 1 cup chopped peeled English hothouse cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup water

preparation

Working over bowl, gently squeeze tomato halves to release seeds and juices. Strain juices, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible (about 1/2 cup). Discard seeds. Chop tomatoes. Transfer chopped tomatoes and tomato juices to large glass bowl. Add next 9 ingredients. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Working in batches, puree gazpacho with 1 cup water in blender until smooth. Pour gazpacho into coarse strainer set over large bowl. Press on solids to extract as much soup as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Serve cold.

 

Manresa

Manresa is one of our favorite restaurants and Chef David Kinch is a brilliant chef. We were extremely lucky to have a meal at Manresa on Wed July 2. I have horrible news – Manresa had a fire on Monday July 7.

News here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_26102133/los-gatos-manresa-restaurant-damaged-by-early-morning

Unfortunately we will have to wait for Manresa to reopen to have another incredible experience.

Our Meal:

M- drink

John decided to start with one of Manresa’s special cocktails – “Dirty Turnip”- dry vermouth. bison grass infused vodka, turnip and pickling solution from the turnip

BYO Wines for the evening:

M- Champagne

M- Silex wine

M- Chambolle wine

I will let the photos tell the “story.”

M - petit fours

Signature dish of roasted red bell pepper and black olive madeleines

M- Croquette

Apricot, chervil croquette – you ate this in one bite and the liquid center was delicious

M- olive oil

Olive oil and spring savory ice cream, kale seaweed dried with kombu,

M- sea urchin

Sea urchin and fermented plum panna cotta, diced green apple, lemon juice, grapeseed oil, sea bean, borage flower

M- Bread

Bread Service – not shown incredible home made butter

M- strawberry

Strawberry picada with anchovies, dried crispy capers, sourdough, crunchy vinaigrette. raspberry ice, raw milk curd, basil ( I hope I got this right – I ask a lot of questions and want to know all the ingredients – the wait staff is very patient with me)

M- summer clams

Summer clams ( razor and surf from Mass), cape berries, malibar spinach, bachelor button flowers, salt wort, gelee – roasted lemon cucumber with bronze fennel

M- morels

Morels, Celtuce, nasturtium with levain, puffed buckwheat, ice plant, vichyssoise sauce

M- kinMedai

Kin Medai (snapper) with eggplant, tomatillo, sesame salt, amaranth

M- into the veg garden

Signature dish – “Into the vegetable garden” – I tried to get what was in this but was only able to get a few – dehydrated parsnip, chicory, potato, radish, turnip  – taking notes at Manresa is a challenge

M- Black Cod

Black cod with lightly pickled carrots, flowering coriander, coriander emulsion

M- Tidal Pool

“Tidal Pool” – abalone, puffed crispy rice, pumpkin seeds and dashi and onion broth to finish

M - Lamb

Spring lamb, confit of squash and porcini mushrooms

My photographer was getting weary and me his partner was also weary of taking extensive notes so from the menu presented to us:

Goat’s milk caramel, green curry sorbet…

…yogurt and matcha, cucumber with shiso

Peaches and Cream

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”

I only hope that all goes well with the reconstruction of Manresa and that Manresa opens as soon as possible. I wish David Kinch and his staff my best and I know when Manresa reopens it will be better than ever and I will be there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Providence

Providence is the best fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Michael Cimarusti is a genius – his gift is taking the best ingredients and combining texture and flavor to highlight that ingredient. GM/Partner, Donato Poto is an extraordinary host and manager. When we arrived who was at the valet station? Donato!!!!!!!! He will do anything to run a tight ship. The service is extraordinary and sommelier Drew Langley is a true professional.

The restaurant has been completely renovated. It is beautiful, tasteful, elegant and very comfortable

P - new wallpapeer

The new wallpaper is perfect.

P - new room

A section of the new room

We BYO our wine and I will just post what we brought.

P- Champagne

2006 Launois Champagne

P - wine

1985 Bienvenue Batard Montrachet, Henri Clerc

P - Rioja

2003 Lopez Heredia Rioja Blanc

P - Chhateau neuf du pape

2011 Chateau Neuf du Pape Blanc Domaine du Pegau

P - wine 1996

1996 Beaune les Cras, Camille Giroud

P - Meuller

1998 Mueller-Gators Eiswein

Now for our spectacular meal – A+++++++++++ We never look at a menu – we just let the Chef surprise us.

P- scallop taco

Scallop “taco” with nasturtium leaves, bubu arare (baby rice crackers), lime, olive oil

P - clam chorizo

Clam Chorizo – littleneck clams, chorizo consomme, red pepper confetti, chorizo espuma

P= Tai Snapper

Japanese Tai Snapper, basil and ginger syrup, basil oil, pickled ginger

P - Goma Saba

Goma Saba (Japanese mackerel), Calabrian chiles, cilantro blossoms, pickled red onions, cucumber, lemon, bronze fennel

P - Butter

Butter and salt for bread

P - Bread

Bread service – seaweed, plain, bacon

P - foam

Unfortunately all you can see is the smoked halibut foam poured on  top – blanched English peas, olive oil, lemon zest

P - uni

Santa Barbara uni, tapioca, coconut milk, red curry, basil, mint, peanuts – “Thai influence”

P - Hairy Crab

Poached Hairy Crab, lime, shellfish consomme. scallions, diced and sliced nectarines

 

P - Spot Prawn with sauce

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, peas, pea tendrils, prawn broth made with fennel, orange, madeira and the heads of the prawn

P - Beef cigars

Wagyu beef cigars, mayonnaise, celery leaf on top

P - Salmon

Columbia River King Salmon, wild French asparagus, morels, ramps, radish foam, smoked butter

P - sardine

Japanese sardines, roasted artichokes, tomato compote, ratatouille,  basil oil

P - Black Bass

Black bass, porcini mushrooms – this and our cheese course have incomplete descriptions – a lot of wine!

P - Cheese Cart

Cheese Cart

P - Cheese Plate

Cheese plate – I do know we had Comte cheese

This was a spectacular meal – it just doesn’t get better than this – absolutely A+++++++

 

 

 

Maude

Maude, Curtis Stone’s new restaurant is phenomenal. Thomas Keller has an expression that great cooking is all about finesse. Curtis Stone cooks with finesse. He has an unique way of taking a seasonal ingredient and handling it with inspiration yet not letting the ingredient be overshadowed as an overwrought creation. His ability to let texture play an important role in his dishes makes for great cooking with finesse.

M- Curtis

Chef Curtis Stone

Maude is named after Curtis Stone’s grandmother a very important figure in his life.

M - the real Maude better

A photo of Maude on her wedding day.

Chef Stone’s own words best describes the restaurant:

“It has always been my dream to open a tiny, little restaurant, where I’m able to cook with the very best of the season, and create an incredible menu that changes regularly. Maude, named after my dear granny who opened my eyes to cooking and food, is the realization of my dream.”

“Each month a single ingredient inspires a menu of nine tasting plates, and this celebrated ingredient is creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course. Some courses call for the hero ingredient to be at the center of the plate whilst at other times, it plays a supporting role to the rest of the produce and proteins making up the dish. By choosing a special ingredient to star in each course, from first bites right through to desserts, a beautiful, little challenge is born!”

The above is from the website:

http://www.mauderestaurant.com

Let me also add that Curtis Stone’s biography is very very impressive!!!!!!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_Stone

The  ingredient for the the night was rhubarb. Each dish was phenomenal. The service was impeccable. This is a must go restaurant.

My photos of the dishes are rather poor and honestly don’t do the dishes justice. They didn’t want me to use flash and as a result the color and quality of the photos are not very good.

M - first

Whipped Rhubarb, cucumber sorbet, marigold flowers – a refreshing, vibrant beginning

M- Chicken

Far left – Chicken wing that had been rolled in pimenton and then in rhubarb glaze and deep fried, rhubarb compressed celery, pickled rhubarb, rhubarb ranch dressing – you dipped the wing in the ranch dressing – what a treat and what a superb combination

M - Prawn

Santa Barbara prawns served escabeche style – carrot, onion, radish, celery, extra virgin olive oil and the grilled head of the Santa Barbara Prawn – as a good Bostonian I picked up the head and ate every single bit including the tentacles – I was in seafood heaven

M - white wine

White wine from their list – excellent

M - asparagus

Composed Salad – charred green asparagus, white asparagus custard, dandelion greens, brown butter croutons, rhubarb vinaigrette – this is where texture is such an important aspect of Chef Stone’s dishes – the toasty croutons were an essential component of this dish

M - Curtis working - open kitchen

The open kitchen and Chef Stone hard at work – his attention to detail is extraordinary

M - chicken pate

This photo just doesn’t do justice to this dish – Chicken liver parfait, spring garlic, crumbled pain perdue, rhubarb pickled spring onions, pickled mustard seeds, banyuls vinegar, herb puree (the green blob) – this was off the charts fantastic – again the texture from the pain perdue was crucial and the parfait was a rich and unctuous mouthful. “Finesse Cooking!”

M - Branzino

Branzino wrapped in rhubarb, zucchini blossom, fried zucchini, pickled peppers, fava beans, dehydrated nicoise olives, rhubarb puree as a base

M - Sweetbread

Sweetbread ravioli, rhubarb beurre blanc, turnip and rhubarb remoulade dressing topped with puffed rice (“overcooked” ) jasmine rice that had been fried – again the photo doesn’t do this dish justice – a triumph of flavor and texture

M- Duck

Duck 3 ways – duck breast, sous vide duck pastrami, savory granola with duck skin, smoked beet puree, leeks, dehydrated fennel – again flavor, texture and ingredient quality was handled expertly

M - cheese

Comte Cheese, underneath the slice of cheese –  Madeira-Rhubarb gelee, macadamia nuts, microgreens

M - underneat cheese

underneath cheese

M - Ginger Parfait

Red Rhubarb sorbet – I didn’t get a full description of this dish

M - last dish

Ginger parfait, almond streusel, vanilla-rhubarb gratin  vanilla poached rhubarb with sabayon), salted honey

What a meal – this was exceptional in every way. I hope I captured the essence of Chef Stone’s cuisine. Many restaurants are listed as chef driven – this really is – I can’t wait to go back!

 

Vin Bar/Valentino

In all my posts about Vin Bar/Valentino I have made it clear that I consider this restaurant one of the finest in Los Angeles. This is NOT a stuffy restaurant. This is not a restaurant for those over 50. This is a contemporary restaurant that is fun dining at its best. Piero Selvaggio is one of the best restaurateurs in the country. Chef Nico Chessa is an extremely creative chef handling the best seasonal ingredients with contemporary flair. We never look at a menu. We just let Chef Nico cook and Piero pick the wines. I urge the younger set to give it a try – you will be wowed by how good this restaurant is.

We started with a glass of champagne – not pictured.

Vin - first wine

First wine

Vin - first app

On the left smoked salmon, orange, almonds, arugula. On the right Dungeness crab, watercress, melon, cucumber, baby cherry tomato – the ingredients sang and were perfect given the unbearably hot days that has plagued Los Angeles

Vin - 2nd app

Baked Ricotta cheese, spinach, white asparagus, candied walnuts, aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil – again a masterful combination of ingredients

Vin - 2nd wine

Second Wine

Vin - tomato soup

Cold tomato soup, fresh oregano, bottarga, burrata cheese – not your ordinary tomato soup – this just screamed great ingredients handled perfectly

Vin - rice

I am not going to do this dish justice by my description. This is a dish that was created by Chef Nico’s mother. It is a rice salad, with La Tur cheese, roasted ham flavored with truffles, peas, tomato – A+++

Vin - last wine

Third Wine

Vin - laast dish

On the left slipper lobster wrapped in speck, tomato. On the right, veal salad –  roasted slices of veal, parmesan, roasted fennel, roasted beets, butter lettuce, olive oil from Umbria – now the photo doesn’t do these two dishes justice – they were inspired, contemporary and creative that would easily win Top Chef.

Vin- cheese

Cheese – I forgot to write the name -it was a combination of cow’s milk and goat’s milk, walnuts, strawberries, barolo wine

This dinner by Chef Nico was off the charts fantastic. He has an ability to extract the best from an ingredient without losing the instrinic quality of the ingredient. His blending of flavors is stupendous and couple that with Piero’s wine pairings you can expect a meal of Michelin 3 star quality in an atmosphere that is great for both the young and old.

Il Grano

I am going to sound like a broken record but I must repeat that Il Grano is a “must go” restaurant. Chef/Owner Sal Marino is amazing – his attention to detail, his extraordinary ability to get the best ingredients and his gift in that he lets the ingredients shine and not give you overwrought cuisine. We invited good friends to join us for a meal at Il Grano  – another meal of amazing company, extraordinary food and unbelievable wine.

Grano - champagne

BYO Champagne

Grano - crostini

Crostini with sautéed shishito peppers, dried bead crumbs, toma cheese

grano - smelt

Fried Wakasagi – Japanese smelt – with a sauce reminiscent of guacamole – pepper and smashed avocado

grano scallop

Seared Hokkaido scallop, oscetra caviar, Sequoia cherries, Purple carrrot and coffee sauce

Grano corton

BYO Corton

grano lobster

Lobster Catalonia, marinated onions, tomatoes, olive oil, basil

grano - montrachet

BYO Montrachet

grano - mushrroom

Porcini Mushroom Carpaccio, arugula, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, olive oil

grano - pea soup

English pea soup, olive oil, edible flowers

Grano - Lynch

BYO Lynch Bages

Grano - papparadelle

Home-made pappardelle, peasant ragu

Grano - Chateau de Beaucasse

BYO – last red wine!

Grano - rabbit

Rabbit stuffed with artichokes, caramelized onions, rabbit demi glace, edible flowers

Grano - lamb

Lamb loin, lamb chop, potatoes parmentier (my notes are very sketchy at this point!)

Grano - dessert

Apricot with amaretto, nectarine peaches with fresh mint, sequoia cherries with white chocolate

What a meal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A+++++++++++++++++++++


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