We are not the typical French Laundry diner in that we have been many many times since 1995 – 17 years ago. We never look at a menu or the wine list – everything is orchestrated for us. Our only responsibility is to just sit back and enjoy and let the magic of French Laundry cast its spell.
A welcoming sight – the French Laundry Clip
Krug champagne to start – no photo
Gougeres – the standard FL beginning
Salmon Cornets – the other standard beginning
Soup – first a bowl is presented with puffed grains granola, barley, black rice, Medjool dates and Miner’s lettuce from Tucker Taylor’s farm from across the street (Refined Palate’s letterhead above is the the French Laundry Garden in its earlier days)
Then warm cauliflower veloute is poured on top – a lovely start
The signature dish of “Oysters and Pearls” – “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar – as good as always
Sashimi of Cured Australian Hiramasa Belly, Eggplant, Jingle Bell Peppers, Nicoise Olives, Arugula and Piquillo Pepper Marmalade – this was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat.
The eggplant had been shaved paper thin and covered the sashimi
Presentation of the next dish – a bit of drama!
Shad Roe “Porridge”, Hass Avocado, Finger Lime, Cilantro Shoots and Diane St Clair’s Butter – what a unique preparation of shad roe. There was a hint of applewood smoked bacon from the steam in the first photo.
Another signature French Laundry dish – Hen Egg Custard with a ragout of Perigord Truffles
Ash-Baked Holland White asparagus, Petite Lettuces, Rhubard, Kendall Farm Creme Fraiche studded with Black Truffles, Black Truffle Coulis – an asparagus never had it so good
Sauterne with the next course
Moulard Duck “Foie Gras au Torchon”, Cara Cara Orange, Celery Branch, Marcona Almonds and Juniper Yogurt
What made this dish extraordinary was that it wasn’t served with the customary Brioche, but instead “Hoe Cake”
The Hoe cake being presented. It was then cut into squares for service – no picture of the foie with the hoe cake, though as my photographer was too busy devouring it!
With the foie there is also a salt service:
Sel Gris (France), Fleur de Sel (France), Pangasinan (Phillipines), Jurassic (Montana). Alaea (Hawaii) Molokai (Hawaii)
Gulf Coast Cobia, Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Young Fennel, “Maltaise Mousseline,” Blood Orange and “Sauce Japonaise” ( think mirin, sesame and soy) – the different components of the dish plus the meaty fish was a lovely combination. The mousseline approximated a very rich blood orange flavored hollandaise.
Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Tail, Fava Bean “Raviolo,” Sunchokes, Fava Beans Blossoms, Sunchoke Chips, Black Truffles and a sauce that was based on Noilly Prat – another delicious combination with tender lobster
Black Truffles shaved table side – to say this is a generous shaving of black truffles is an understatement!
Buttermilk-Fried Wolfe Ranch Quail, Tomato “Pain Perdue,” Braised Swiss Chard, Pickled Green Tomato and “Barbecue Sauce” with Black Strap Molasses – who needs to go to the south
“Roncal” (sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region), Piquillo Pepper Marmalade, Royal Blenheim Apricot Puree, Red Walnuts, Arugula and Garden Blossoms – an elegant composed cheese course
“Coffee and Donuts” – now donut holes! My husband’s favorite ending
A French laundry meal is a special event – it is magical – every person there from the back of the house to the waitstaff, the managers, the sommeliers are part of an extraordinary team that goes out of their way to make each and every guest from the first time visitor to the “old timers” feel special.