Sunday, January 23, 2011

The French Laundry

Only a few hours left before the pinnacle French Laundry meal and the unthinkable happens. A bout of food poisoning like no other hits my innards leaving me slumped on the bathroom floor floor drenched in cold sweat and vomitus. Between spasms of agonizing pain, the inevitable sinks in..could I possibly make it to the French Laundry in less than 7 hours? 30 days of waiting for this day, plus an additional 3 weeks of calling time... must....surive....

Three weeks of calling busy phone lines at exactly 10 am everyday, exactly 30 days before the day preferred left us with the golden lunch hour seating. Not that I'm complaining, lunch seating is better than no seating.

Despite the horrid bowel-clenching experience last night, everything seemed to be a distant memory as I reached the rustic cottage that much resembled Hansel and Gretel's gingerbread lodging. There was nothing over the top, no razzle dazzle that one would expect from the caliber of TFL. Just a small brass sign that read 'The French Laundry'.

The French Laundry - you either know it or you don't. Therefore, I'm not going to go into an elaborate biographical frenzy of the who's and what's or the making of TFL. Nor am I going to describe each dish and break it down into its molecular components. You know that pithy saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words"?

Besides, I don't have the eloquence to give Thomas Keller's creation due justice.

Panna Cotta with Sturgeon Caviar

Spanish Mackerel "En Escabeche"

Sweet Butter Poached Lobster Tail and Coffee Chocolate Emulsion

Rabbit Shoulder and Tokyo Turnips

Thomas Farm Squab

Lamb Rib eye, Chanterelle Mushrooms and Garlic Pudding

Pomegranate Palate Cleanser

Caramelized Apples, Molasses and Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Cappuccino and Doughnuts

Not a breath of foam or a puff of nitrogen. Pristine, unadulterated ingredients that did not need extravagant heavy sauces to distract us from the fundamental ingredient. Never have I tasted lobster as sweet or as tender. And the squab, much to my surprise tasted of toro, but more rich and tinged with the slightest gaminess that told of its cage free existence. Nine surreal courses and a few edible take home relics which left me lusting for more.

As I make my journey home, a few pounds heavier, a lighter heart, I ask myself, 'Was that the culmination of TFL experience? What comes after this?'

The answer lies 6,000 miles away, across the Atlantic..

The French Laundry

6640 Washington St

Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2380