Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The French Laundry

I haven’t been posting any new recipes in the last few days, and I’m sorry for those who were in search of inspiration. And I have to admit, I haven’t been cooking either. Yes, this does happen once in a while! Instead, I was on a short escape to a great city, San Francisco, California. Although I was not behind the stove, I was certainly enjoying some good times and some amazing food… And I was really spoiled. I was taken out to the French Laundry in Napa Valley.
Chef Thomas Keller

For those unfamiliar with the French Laundry, it’s one of the world’s most renowned restaurants. Opened in 1994 by famous Chef Thomas Keller, it won best restaurant of the world both in 2003 and 2004. Since 2006 it even has 3 Michelin Stars. For many years now, it’s been figuring on the world’s top 50 best restaurants list.

The Restaurant's Front

The food consists of two unique nine-courses menus, none of which offers the same ingredient twice, and none of which are featured for more than one day. Add to that a few extra ‘surprises’ and you’re bound to walk out of this restaurant drunk from all the greatness. Trust me, it happened to me and I only had a ‘splash of champagne’, as the maître D’ said it. The bread is prepared at the local Bouchon bakery (also owned by Keller), the herbs are grown in the backyard and the cheese, butter, salts come from all over the world. Not one detail is left aside. And only the best work in the kitchen.

French Laundry Garden
My purpose here is not the offer a critic of this restaurant but to share an amazing food experience with you. To me, this meal was everything food perfection should be, and more. The service was impeccable (there is a 1:1 staff per client ratio) and the setting is simple yet majestic. If you ever are in the San Francisco area and have a few extra bucks to spend, then you should go here. You won’t regret it! I still dream of all those flavours I got to savour during my meal. And I consider myself privileged to have had an exclusive visit of the kitchen where I got a glance of the tall Thomas Keller who so happened to be gardening in the back that day (no, he’s not the one in charge of the kitchen anymore!).

Cauliflower "Panna Cotta"
with Island Creek Oyster Glaze and
California Sturgeon Caviar

Moulard Duck "Foie Gras au Torchon"
Pickled Asian Pear Relish, Celery Branch, Parsnip Purée,
Black Winter Truffles and Vanilla Sented Sauternes

Sautéed Fillet of Atlantic Black Bass
Manila Clams, Chick Pea "Croquette", Fennel,
Arugula and Saffron-Pepper Reduction

Sweet Butter-Poached Scallop
Roasted Cilantro Shoots & Chanterelle Mushroom "Pierogi"
and Hobbs' Bacon Reduction

Liberty Farm Peking Duck
Duck Confit "En Feuille de Bric", Couscous, Nantes Carrot,
Curried Sultans and Cilantro Shoots

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-Eye
Ribettes, Pole Bean "Cassoulet", Braised Mustard Greens,
Parsley Oil and Dijon Mustard

"Beets and Leeks"
"Boho Bel", King Richard Leeks, "Pommes Maxim's"
and Red Beet Essence

Marshall Farm's Wildflower Honey Sorbet
Chilled Hibiscus-Pink Peppercorn "Consommé" and Poached Rhubarb

"Délice aux Pistaches"
Shiso Gelée, Lemongrass "Crémeux"
and Granny Smith Apple Sorbet

And I most certainly have some inspiration for a few recipes to come…

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