Sunday, December 12, 2010

French Laundry, 11/29/10

This is my first holiday season as a blogger and I will be honest - I have no idea how my fellow bloggers do it. It is such a busy time of year: getting ready for the holidays, getting work out of the way so you can enjoy the holidays, and in our house anniversary and birthday celebrations. Whew! But it is time to catch up a bit...

A couple of weeks ago we had a wonderful leisurely reprieve from the holiday season when some dear friends of ours treated us to the French Laundry. In a time of chaos, topped by a small natural disaster we were dealing with, I can't tell you how much this time with friends meant. The meal was sublime, but the company even better.

French Laundry gets a lot of press of course, and it is always interesting to see the reactions in light of the hype. We ate there once to celebrate our fifth anniversary. I had just been diagnosed with Celiac disease and didn't know that my childhood seafood "allergy" was not accurate. At that time restaurants had only sort of picked up on the gluten-free dining, so I definitely felt that I missed out on some of the experience. I still dream of the white truffle risotto I had during that first visit, but had to experience other signature dishes vicariously.

This time I have to say, really outshined the last. The service was wonderful, the food nearly flawless. I loved the butter poached lobster with a sweet curry sauce, while my dining companions raved about their Japanese white fish, and my husband adored the quail. I did want a bit more inventiveness from the pastry department, but how many people out there crave miso and pepper desserts? Gianduja and chocolate mousse will win over everyone, and my husband found the first permission dish he truly enjoyed in his dessert, and his cream cheese ice cream made him swoon.

I think that is the thing that makes French Laundry almost unique - the flavors are not terribly out there, and while they do use some modern culinary techniques the flavors are mostly familiar - but they are spot on familiar. And that makes you want to return for more.

So, here are pics. The light was very low, so you can see how unsteady my hand is sometimes! I am sorry I don't have dish labels right now. I need to call The French Laundry and see if they have a copy of the menu from that night. But like I said - it has been a crazy time...

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