Our meals are not a typical FL meal. In fact, Corey Lee knew we were coming with 2 other guests who hadn’t been back to FL in 10 years. He suggested that we do a more classical FL meal – I sort of begged that he just do his thing.
A caveat: my notes on this meal are not as complete or detailed. We were with friends and it was hard to take notes plus focus on a primarily social evening. I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
The soup was presented with small cantaloupe melon balls sprinkled with nicoise olive crumbs
Then our server poured the cold cantaloupe on top – refreshing, light, a lovely beginning
Kahala Belly with peeled green grapes and white sesame puree – My first thought was sympathy for the poor cook who had to peel those grapes. What Corey does so well is the juxtaposition of ingredients.
Sturgeon with Applewood Smoke, Cippolini onions – Our server presented a glass covered bowl.
When the bowl was uncovered a haze of applewood smoke escaped from the bowl. On the bottom of the bowl was the sturgeon and Cippolini onions. The smoke infused the sturgeon with the applewood flavor so it was more than a gimmick; it was an essential flavoring to the dish.
Fresh water eel, Kirby cucumber, Perilla, sweet vinaigrette – The cucumber was thinly sliced and functioned as the wrapper for the eel (much like nori in an eel roll at a sushi bar). I didn’t get a full explanation of the vinaigrette, but knew it was soy-based and I am guessing it was similar to that used for eel dishes in Japanese restaurants, but not as thick – it was much more delicate in taste.
Santa Barbara Uni, Medallion of Eggplant, Korean Mint Blossom – the eggplant was the base of the dish with the uni on top – perfect, plump uni
Baby Amberjack (Inada), Shaved Turnip, Cherry Blossom, Nasturtium leaf, Cherry Coulis – absolutely perfect
The dish presented – Thomas Keller is known for his multi-plate presentations – notice 3 plates plus the covered small bowl
Stone Flounder, Beech Mushrooms, Ginger Broth – the ginger broth was light and delicate and a perfect match to the flounder.
From a google search re stone flounder: “Unusually the ishigarei does not have scales, but instead a few bony protrusions (the Japanese refer to them as ’stones’ hence the name) on the skin on its dorsal surface, that produce copious amounts of a rather foul-smelling fish slime. However, if one removes these the fillet of the fish possesses a firm, white yet oily flesh that is quite delicious.”
Abalone, zucchini, young squash, Meyer lemon emulsion – The abalone had been scored and seared, the squash from the FL garden was very, very young and just now blooming – I am in fish heaven.
Uni, brik filled with potato puree, sugar snap peas and black truffle coulis – Some might criticize Corey Lee for 2 uni dishes in one meal – not me. Corey knows I adore uni and one year Thomas, after asking John what my favorite ingredient was, made 5 different uni dishes in one meal. What characterized this dish was the textural contrast – the crispy brik, the smooth potato, the crunchy snap peas and the soft and melting uni. The black truffle coulis elevated the dish to a wonderful harmony of flavors.
Crispy Sandab with a FL “tartar sauce” – I was absolutely blown away by this sauce and in awe of the person who had to cut up the components – this was not 1/8” dice; it was closer to 1/18” dice. Sometimes, I truly hate the less is more approach – I could have eaten a dozen – not quite, but this was a terrific dish.
Confit of Tuna, Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Sea Bean (Marsh Jeune)
Then our served added Bonito Broth to the dish – an elegant and light enhancement to the tuna.
Another wonderful FL serving dish
Oyster Custard, Caviar, Gold Flakes – this was Corey’s “take” on oysters and pearls – he took the components of oysters and pearls and decided to improvise a new dish – novel, fun and a fresh approach to a classic dish.
Escargot, Corn, Chanterelles, Purslane, Corn emulsion – I hope I got this right, remember the amount of wine I have consumed , but my notes say that FL uses fresh snails and purges them with cornmeal. I know when I use fresh clams, that is exactly what I do. In any case, this was a marriage of ingredients that were meant for each other.
Lobster Mitts, Globe artichokes, Spicy Lobster Emulsion – good but I am a sucker for the lobster béarnaise dish.
Grilled Pave of Kuroge Beef from Shiga (from the Southeast, A-5 beef, fed barley and massaged for 2 years), Broccolini fleurettes, Pine nuts, Puree – I honestly can’t give a full description of this dish, but the beef was exquisite.
We were getting very, very full and decided to forgo a cheese course plus the parade of desserts.
Garden Basil Sorbet, Lychee Fruit and basil Seeds
Coffee and Doughnuts
Again, Corey Lee outdid himself – a beautiful symphony of a meal that was executed perfectly. I don’t for a minute take this for granted – I know the hours and hours it takes to not only plan this type of meal, but also to surpass the plans and have it prepared perfectly.
I have made no secret of the fact that my two favorite restaurants up north are Manresa and French Laundry. They are different in approach, but what sets them a part from every other restaurant is the commitment and dedication of these two chefs. These are just not dining experiences, but dining adventures that have been carefully and thoughtfully orchestrated. I am one very lucky lady.