It was by far the most expensive lunch I have ever had. And likely will ever have!
But it so happened that our friends from Singapore, finishing up their year in Stanford, wanted to dine at the French Laundry before they left. I’ve wanted to eat there even before I moved to the Bay Area some four years ago. And my birthday was right around the corner. So it became a graduation-farewell/birthday lunch at French Laundry. And it really is about who you know. Reservations at FL are snapped up as soon as they are available so one can keep calling and calling and never quite get one. And yet here we were, on the July 4th long weekend, on the day of their 19th anniversary no less, thanks to a friend who knew someone!
And it was exquisite! It is after all, a Michelin three-starred restaurant (and the only Michelin-starred establishment I have ever been to).
The service was impeccable. The food not just fantastic but beautifully presented and so well-paced that the many courses flowed so nicely and we didn’t feel stuffed. Ok maybe at the end, with all the mignardises (or petit fours) especially those delicious little macadamia nuts, I was getting full!
But oh let’s start at the beginning.
With their anniversary, every diner was treated to a glass of sparkling white wine. It was my first glass of alcohol in a year so I was naturally delighted!
The first few courses were my overall favourites. The cornet was crunchy and salty and just kinda like eating a tiny salty ice cream cone. And the gruyere gougeres? Warm and cheesy and a wonderful pop-in-the-mouth treat.
Thomas Keller’s signature Oysters and Pearls (pictured top right) was a delectable sabayon of tapioca pearls topped with caviar and oysters. Playful and delicious.
The little egg cup held a truffle-infused chawanmushi-like custard of salty goodness with a thin potato chip (the line through it is a fresh chive) to dip in. It was earthy and mellow.
Those were my favourite dishes. Until I met the cheese course (pictured top right).
Now there were several courses in between like a little salad, some salmon, a lobster and crab cake, and a wonderfully cooked and perfectly seasoned steak. But I truly was blown away by the simplicity and ingenuity of the cheese course. The cheese course, of all things!
It was essentially a goats milk cheese served with shaved fennel, aged balsamic, black mission fig jam and a pine nut brittle. The supple softness and tartness of the cheese balanced so beautifully with the sweet-salty balsamic and the sweet-crunchy brittle and the fig jam. It looked deceptively simple, but those were a few bites of heaven!
A fascinatingly light plum sorbet dish (bottom right) was followed by a choice of two desserts.
As a chocoholic who has to have some chocolate everyday, I aimed straight for the chocolate dessert. Here’s the description:
Devil’s food, Valrhona chocolate ‘marquise’, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Marshall Farms burnt honey ice cream (pictured bottom left)
The ‘Strawberry-Vanilla Custard’ though sounded a little less exciting:
Almond ‘pain de Gene’, Tahitian vanilla macaroon and French Laundry Garden strawberry sorbet
Doesn’t it sound like a dream? So I was a little disappointed when I was served the strawberry dessert and the chocolate one was given to the husband.
But when I tasted the strawberry dish, I had the tingles. All the way to my toes. It was refreshing and summery and put a huge smile on my face. I was floating on lovely pink dream!
And when the husband and I switched plates and I tasted the chocolate dessert, I just wanted more of the strawberry! I seem to be coming across some Amazing strawberry desserts this year!
And we were still not done!
An array of handmade chocolates was presented. I picked one of stout and a hazelnut one. Other flavours included peanut butter and jelly, salted caramel, mint etc. Then some little doughnuts, macadamia nuts, caramels and a little mousse dessert that looked like a cappuccino were served.
And finally we were done.
An amazing meal. A gorgeous once in a lifetime meal.
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