Monday, October 26, 2009

French Laundry

I ate at the French Laundry once a few years ago. This is what I had:

Before they served the first course they brought us little puff pastries with gruyere and these little ice cream cone looking things, in a savory cone filled with salmon tartar, since I did the “Tasting of Vegetables” menu, mine was filled with a puree of fennel and crème fraiche. .

First course: butternut squash “porridge” with Sicilian pistachio emulsion and black winter truffles. It was good, the flavors were nice, but the texture of the truffles, which is kind of waxy didn’t mesh well with the smoothness of the porridge.

Second course: Salad of mountain yam, red radishes, English cucumbers, Mizuna, Yuzu and Haas avocado coulis. This was probably the best looking dish of the night, but also by far the most disappointing flavor-wise. I’m not a radish fan though and the yams also had a radish like texture, so everything was in synch texture and flavor-wise but I just don’t like radishes.

Before the third course they came around and served us really, really lovely rolls and two types of butter, one salted, the other unsalted from a local dairy.

Third course: Beech mushroom “royale” with ginger-scented mushroom bouillon and gingko nuts. At the bottom of the bowl there was also a savory flan or custard. The flavors were superb, but the different textures, of mushroom and flan were uh, interesting to say the least.

Fourth course: Hand-rolled Yukon gold potato “gnocchi,” broccolini, San Marzano tomato marmalade, preserved Meyer lemon “Bottarga.” Okay so far everything had been good, but I wasn’t blown away. This is where dinner started to turn into Nirvana. The tomato marmalade was heaven. There are not enough adjectives and similes or metaphors to describe this dish, it’d be like trying to describe an orgasm to someone who had never had one.

Before the fifth course they came around and served a selection of different breads.

Fifth course: Roasted chestnut soup, romaine lettuce, celery branch, “Pruneau d’Agen,” and shaved black truffles from Provence. This was even better than the fourth course. It was as sublime as the second coming of Christ, all over my tongue. It was at about this point in the evening that I realized everything I had ever eaten hitherto in my life had been shit. Seriously, the French Laundry makes Boulevard seem like goddamned Denny’s. The soup was so creamy, and smooth and sweet and the Pruneau d’Agen and the truffles it was… I’m getting hard just thinking about it.

Sixth course: Confit of Chinese eggplant, black rice, sweet carrots, plumped sultanas, cilantro shoots and Madras curry butter. This was very simple and clean after the richness of the soup. A bit salty, a bit sweet but neither too over powering, it was very subtle. I quite liked it.

Again bread was served before the seventh course.

Seventh course: “Moliterno,” cardoons, Marcona almonds, frisee and black truffle vinaigrette. This was the cheese course and a really nice way to wind down dinner. Our server explained that the cheese was a pecorino romano which was aged with black truffles. Again, as with everything else, very lovely.

Eighth course: Diane St. Claire buttermilk sherbet with granola and honey-poached cranberries. This was fun. It reminded me of yogurts with granola but better, which was the point. It was a nice transition from the savory to the sweet.

Ninth course: Mandarin “Pralinosa,” Gianduja Chocolate Cake, Manjari Ganache, Satsuma Sorbet and salted Jivwara “Feuillantine”. This is the dessert in the picture in my previous post. I really liked this; the citrus did a nice job of enhancing but also balancing out the chocolate so it never got too heavy or rich.

Coffee, espresso and cappuccino were served along with amaretti cookies and chocolate covered macadamia nuts dusted with powdered sugar.

Finishing out the evening they served mini-crème brulees and Meyer lemon custard. I had the custard. It was perfect and simple and wonderful. They also served us a selection of homemade truffles.

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