Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Where do we go from here?

Shall we continue?

Scottish Grouse "Cuit en Cocotte" - French Laundry Garden Tokyo Turnips, Hobbs' Bacon, Brussel Sprouts and Prune "Jus" (1/2). The first of two meat courses with the choice of the above pictured Grouse or the Rabbit shown below. As mentioned by our service captain when taking our orders, the grouse did have a strong game flavor, but I tend to prefer that myself. Apparently, grouse is also one of the ten rarest and most expensive things to eat.

Sauteed sirloin of Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit - Cipollini Onions, Sweet Carrots, Artichoke Puree and Dijon Mustard Sauce (2/2). While flavorful and moist, I preferred the grouse with it's stronger flavor.

Elysian Fields Farm "Selle D'agneau Rotie Entiere" - Black Rice, Cauliflower, Sultanas, Cilantro Shoots and Curry Sauce. This lamb was amazingly juicy and tender. While we were eating this dish, all of us agreed that the dish was delicious, but we couldn't quite identify that taste that made it unique. Sure, the servers had previously described all the elements of the dish, but I was too preoccupied trying to find the right angle for my picture. Eventually, we identified the curry sauce. Lamb and curry. Delicious.

As we waited for the next course, we took a couple moments to really sit back and absorb the environment. Above my head, I noticed that engraved onto the lamp shades were symbols that resembled hieroglyphics. Looking closer, turns out they are the same symbols that you see on the tag of your clothes...the symbols for laundry.

The ever growing bread plate after yet another bread service.

Hello blog world! I am hiding my face like this in the picture because (a) I like to keep semi-anonymous on the internet, (b) sad because the meal is coming to an end, (c) so overwhelmed with happiness, (d) frustrated because someone took pictures with flash in a nice restaurant, (e) absolutely stuffed and overwhelmed that I have more to eat, or (f) all of the above.
"Tomme Du Berger" - Jacobsen's Farm Beans, Chorizo, Piquillo Peppers and Arugula. All cheese courses should be like this. At the high end restaurants I've been to thus far, I've usually seen the waiter wheel out a large cheese cart with a wide variety of cheese. They dutifully cut small slices of cheese and spoon out crackers, jams, honeys and nuts onto the plate. Not so at the French Laundry where this was an actual, plated course. This semi-soft, semi smelly (mmm, smelly cheese are the best) cheese is a mix of sheep and goat's milk and paired beautifully with the spicy chorizo, peppers and arugula. This is a combination I'd love to try at home.
At this point, we were stuffed beyond belief...enough so that we asked to take a small break. We wandered outside to the balcony and enjoyed the crisp, cool air along side another party. I hadn't ever taken a break in the middle of a meal at a restaurant before, but it was incredibly refreshing. Meanwhile, we managed to snap a few pictures of the group as well as the picture above from the upstairs balcony looking at our table inside the restaurant.

Diane St. Clair Buttermilk Sherbet - "Pain Perdu" and Huckleberries. We returned to our table to being the dessert courses. I'll admit, when I saw this on the menu, I just couldn't get excited for this course. Thomas Keller of course proved me wrong. I loved the subtlety of the flavors and the mix of textures.

Sesame Seed and Chocolate Gateau - Tahini Ganache, Domori Sambriano Chocolate Creme and Shiso Sorbet (1 of 2). For a chocolate dish, I liked this. Don't get me wrong, chocolate is good stuff. Really good stuff. But I can only eat it in limited amounts and I'm not too much of a fan of those chocolate desserts served at most restaurants that are super rich. This one had a nice balance and the sesame/shiso combination worked surprisingly well with the chocolate.

Genoise De Pignons De Pin Grilles - Honey-Poached Cranberries, Marscapone-Pine Nut Ice Cream and Aged Balsamic Vinegar (2 of 2). Wonderful combination of not overly sweet flavors that blended flawlessly. I'd like a bottle of the aged balsamic vinegar and a pint of the ice cream to go.

Thankfully, the sommelier was kind enough to list the wines we had enjoyed throughout the night.

Although we had reached the last course, there was still more to come. Dual plates were set before us and we all sat in our seats, excited to see what came next.

This canistar looks a little spage age-ish.

But inside was a heavenly assortment of chocolates, nougats and candies. While one of each would have been excessive, it would have been nice to have multiples for sharing purposes.
A rather large container of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I'll take a canister of these to go as well.

At this point, we were hurting from the fullness. And yet there was more! Truffles of all sorts..and of course we asked for one of each! Passion fruit, peanut butter, mixed berry, coconut, hazelnut, and banana. I think the group favorite was the hazelut.

Finally, along with the check, we received a parting gift of shortbreads. 9 plus courses and many glasses of wine later, we were quite content, to say the least.

So what did we think of this ultimate foodie destination now that we finally dined there? Everything was perfectly cooked. Everything tasted great. A handful of dishes blew us away while others were simply good.

That said - would we go back? Perhaps sometime in the future to see how things change at the restaurant. But on any given day? I think I'd rather dine twice at Michael Mina/Gary Danko/top tier SF restaurant/etc. in exchange for one dinner at French Laundry. Or go to Alinea.

So where does this leave us? I certainly never imagined actually dining here until much later in life and having finally reached a goal that you didn't expect to meet, it makes your life a little tispy turvy. It makes me re-examine my defintion of success in life and my goals in life. All this over one dinner is kinda crazy, huh? Overall, it's made me realize I'm one lucky girl.
I've been privileged to not only dine at one of the world's premiere restaurants, but to have dined there with some unbelievely great friends who appreciated it as much as I did (and who can put up with the crazy picture taking and blog talking). Yup, I'm pretty damn lucky.

Chu These:
Beautiful photos and descriptions of the French Laundry from No Salad as a Meal
French Laundry from the blogger that's cooked all the recipes in the French Laundry cookbook - French Laundry at Home
Experiences at the French Laundry through the years by Refined Palate, who has been to FL 100+ times

1 comment:

jonathan said...

Wow, they look really great and beautiful. Presented so well and color plays are perfect. And why did you hide your face, lol... Thanks!