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The French Laundry

31 May

Napa, California March 2009

This meal would not have happened if R had not stayed awake until 2am for two work nights two months to the day that we’d be in Napa Valley. And we were thrilled on the 2nd night when he managed to secure a table at French Laundry! Thank you R (for calling and sponsoring)! 🙂

Armed with a rather sketchy map, we navigated through the tiny vineyard towns of napa and ventured into Yountville – home to 4 Thomas Keller establishments, Ad Hoc, Bouchon Bakery, Bouchon and The French Laundry. Our first night in Napa we settled in on Ad Hoc and had breakfast at Bouchon Bakery the next morning. Our 2nd night’s dinner was to be spent at The French Laundry – the wait was over!!

Welcome to The French Laundry!

Dinner was scheduled for 5.45pm, pretty early for Singaporeans, but as we found out – very necessary as our entire dinner took 4 hours to complete! All the food was Amazing, how they pair all the finest ingredients assemble it to make a dish and truly an art! there’s so many textures and tastes for your tongue to suss out 🙂 No complaints about being overworked here! I will write less and let the food speak for itself!

Our Maitre’d was a dashing young man who’d driven across the US from Miami to Yountville the moment he was offered a job at TFL – it would have been insane to pass the opportunity by!

The French Laundry Menu for 23 March 2009

There are always two menus to choose from, a Chef’s Tasting menu and a Vegetarian menu of 10 courses each.

Menus change daily and many of the ingredients used are harvested from TFL garden just across the street

and for certain courses, you get to choose between two selections

A souvenir for all guests – a wooden French Laundry peg

A toast!

coupled with Aged Cruyere Cheese Choux Pastry Puffs (I called them Cheesy Poofs)

These were gone in 2 seconds!

Scottish Salmon Tartare marinated with spring onion and lemon oil, Sesame seed Cornette sitting on a bed of red onion creme fraiche

Inspired by Baskin Robbins ice cream cones
Oysters and Pearls
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and California Sturgeon Caviar

Bread with butter
Front to Back: Bread from Petaluma shaped in a cheese cloth, Bread with fleur de sel produced in Vermont.

The TFL Garden

Gathering Ingredients from le TFL Garden

Let’s get back to dinner!

Moulard Duck “Foie Gras Au Torchon”
with Granny Smith Apple Relish, Heirloom Beets, Watercress and Dijon Mustard
(Front)

This was my selection for this course. Foie Gras Au Torchon literally means Foie Gras in Dishcloth

Moulard Duck “Foie Gras Au Torchon”
(Back)

It was to be eaten with

Salt to accompany the Foie Gras
(Anti-Clockwise from Front) Grey salt, Salt from the Philippines, and Pink salt from Montana

I liked the Grey Salt best!

Salad of Compressed Asian Pear
with Red Radish, Pine Nuts, Mizuna and Andante Dairy Yoghurt served with Warm Brioche

R had the Poached Asian Pears and it was served with Warm Brioche (i love the word brioche it makes you feel like getting cosy on your couch and sip on a cup of cocoa). And when TFL says warm they mean warm, after a while of having the bread on the table they noticed that we hadn’t touched it and would have turned cold and promptly brought a fresh one!

So the thing about these tasting menus that some restaurants have (Iggy’s [Singapore] and Tetsuya’ [Sydney] do it in a similar manner) is the graduation of tastes and types of food used (it goes from light to heavy and the crescendoes and then you start on a slow descent from the height of flavour from the heaviest dish)

Grilled Pavé of Japanese Bluefin Tuna
with Chorizo, Sunchokes, Fava Beans, Meyer Lemon Gastrique and Nicoise Olive Essence

“Tartare” of Pacific Kanpachi
English Peas, Turnips, Tosaka Seaweed, Perilla and Navel Orange

Maine Lobster Tail “Pochée Au Beurre Doux”
with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Celery Branch and Black Truffles from Provence

When they served this dish, I was super thrilled cos I’d learnt how to cook lobster in such a manner in a class conducted at Raffles Culinary Academy (in a mixture of butter and water called Beurre Monte)  This mixture helps to retain the moisture in the lobster meat while it cooks.

Marcho Farms Sweet Bread “Raviolo”
with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Sweet Carrots, Parsley and Green Garlic

Super tender meat within the not-too-thick raviolo skin – Italy’s answer to dumplings!

Elysian Fields Farm “Selle D’agneau Rôtie Entière”
with Arrowleaf Spinach, Califlower Fleurettes, Poached Sultana Raisins, Sunflower seeds and “Jus au Piment d’Espelette”

This was cut from a whole roast of saddle lamb, succulent and to R’s relief without the smell of lamb

“Appenzeller”
with Speck, Globe Artichokes, Arugula and “Sauce Romesco”

Appenzeller cheese is a hard cow’s-milk cheese produced in the Appenzell region of northeast Switzerland.

French Laundry peg basking in the romantic candlelight
Diane St. Clair Buttermilk Sherbert
with Cream Scone, Sour Cherries and Earl Grey Tea Foam

I love the way they scoop the sherbet – not your typical ice cream globe shape, very classy eh? They’re known as quenelles 🙂

“Mousse Au Chocolat Amedei”
with Toasted Cashews, Curry “Arlette” and Gros Michel Banana Ice Cream

An Amedei Chocolate Mousse – award winning chocolate with a brand of chocolate considered to be the most expensive in the world. (Check it out here) The wonderful folk at TFL found out from R that we’d recently gotten engaged and added the finishing touch of a lil congratulatory chocolate sign on our desserts.

“Parfait Au Citron”
with Candied Buddha’s Hand, Pistachio Biscotti and Lemon Snow

I had no idea what the Buddha’s Hand was but looking for it on Wikipedia (Check it out here) and boy does it look weird! Nonetheless it was INCREDIBLY SOUR! the same goes for the Lemon Snow

Our Invisible Mignardises!

After our dessert, our maitre’d presented each of us with a rectangular metal plate and the first thing that came to our minds was WOW invisible food! But it turned out to be a cold plate for our Mignardises (tiny bite-sized desserts) they were really tiny

Mignardise – Tiny Cake

Chocolats!

Commemorating our Dinner with Menus signed by everyone working that night and Short Bread to take home!

Before we left, our Maitre’d presented us with a folder of the day’s menus signed by everyone on shift that day and a little bag of Shortbread cookies for us to remember them by. And our last treat for the night was a visit to the kitchen! I was thrilled (dumbstruck literally – R ended up asking all the questions while I took pictures)

A visit to the kitchen! (see the 5 stars, 3 are Michelin)

Kitchen Groupies 🙂

At The French Laundry, as Thomas Keller says, It’s all about Finesse!

The French Laundry

6640 Washington Street

Yountville, California

+1 707 944 2380

Reservations Recommended at least 2 months to reservation date

French Laundry Website

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