Finally decided to sit down and describe my food from The French Laundry. It was interesting that everything had an art deco style – signage, serving platters and plates. These are just some impressions, but I am struggling to recount my meal. I think the perspective is also very different now that I look back on it.
Salmon tartare with creme fraiche with red onion wrapped in black sesame seed tuile
Wow. The tartare was smooth and buttery and the creme fraiche was creamy and cool as well. A soft little crunch to the tuile, it was definitely an amuse that had me craving more. As my friend J said, “Mmm… meat on a cone!”
Grougeres made with gruyere cheese, (the one on the left is chickpea)
My friend M. has a dairy allergy, so they were nice enough to create him something special. The grougeres were wonderful, cheesy, warm puffs with just enough gruyere to make me happy. Slightly crisp, and meltingly creamy.
Cauliflower “panna cotta” with Beau Soleil Oyster Glaze and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar
Briny, salty, creamy and slightly sweet. You could really taste the delicate cauliflower flavor, but it brought out the natural sweetness of it. The caviar then provides little bursts of flavor.
Bread #1, local butter with sea salt, Vermont butter
This bread was so good. It was light, airy, buttery with just a touch of sea salt on the outside. I love that there are two choices of butter. The local was fattier and more creamy. The Vermont butter comes from cows that The French Laundry rents in Vermont. It was firmer and less fatty.
Moulard Duck “Foie Gras En Terrine” Sommerset Peaches, Whole Grain Mustard Aigre Doux, Arugula and “Foie Gras Genoise” and salt (from upper right) French sea salt, Japanese sea salt and 40 million year old salt
The slightly sweet genoise (the toast things) and peaches were amazing with the foie gras. Nice and rich, it didn’t have quite the overly livery smell that tends to remind me of cat food. The salt was pretty interesting. Some were saltier than others and more mineraly. It was long enough ago, I can’t remember which is which though.
Sauteed Sablefish with Ragout of Yukon Gold Potatoes, English Cucumbers, “Ikura,” Kendall Farms “Creme fraiche” and Garden Dill
Crisp, golden-topped firm sablefish. The fish was a little salty, though it was offset some by the potatoes, cucumber and salmon roe. I would have liked that potato and cucumber to be a little cooler so that it would have created a more interesting contrast with the sablefish.
Grilled Sea of Japan Octopus with Toybox Tomatoes, Saffron-Braised Artichokes, Fennel Bulb, Olive Oil Emulsion and Parsley Shoots
This was ordered by my friends instead of the sablefish. The best octopus I’ve ever had. It was firm and flavorful without being tough or chewy. I loved the sweet little tomatoes.
Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Brentwood Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, and Applewood-smoked Bacon
I’m not usually a big fan of lobster, but this was fabulous. Firm, flavorful and sweet. The sweet corn and Swiss-chard together were amazing. I LOVED the little sweet-salty flavor of the corn. I plan on trying to make the combination at home. The bacon was nice, but was eclipsed by the surprisingly big flavor of the lobster.
M’s sister took care of our wine for us. I <3 her forever. Paul, the sommelier helped select the 2005 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee. A nice old world white blend with Viognier. Hints of tropical fruit – pineapple – and very smooth. The 2004 Varner Pinot Noir “Hidden Block.” The “Hidden Block” refers to the 2.5 acres that the grapes for this wine are grown on. This opened up quite nicely. At first it was a bit smoky and earthy and first. But then there were some nice hints of cherry and berries.
Four Story Hill Farm “Poularde Parfumee a L’Ail et Aux Thym” Wilted Spinach, Cippolini Onion, and Caramelized Onion Jus
Probably the least interesting of all the dishes for me. I’m guessing the chicken was sous vide, which is a technique that I have yet to enjoy. I always find meat sous vide to be slimy. That really put me off the dish overall. Though I guess I enjoyed the spinach.
45 day dry-aged snake River Farm Beef Sirloin with Akita Komachi Rice, Matsutake Mushrooms, Broccolini Fleurettes and Kanzuri Sauce, Bouillon-Poached Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Ribeye, Toasted Barley, Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Thumbelina Carrots and Sauce Bordelaise
This course was a choice between the $65 supplement sirloin or the lamb. My friends ordered the lamb, while I decided to go all out and try the sirloin. It was fairly tasty with a nice salty crust to it. I really enjoyed the kanzuri sauce which is made of a Japanese red pepper and yuzu sauce. It was more creamy and slightly citrusy than spicy. Did it all go together? I’m not sure. The lamb, on the other hand, was pretty transcendent. Super flavorful, tender and a perfect medium rare. I wished I had gotten the lamb instead.
Andante Dairy “Acapella” with Celery Branch, Perigord Truffle Vinaigrette, and Grated K&J Orchard Chestnuts
Wow. This cheese was so pungent that I could only have one bite. I was surprised that something like this was on a tasting menu. This does not appeal to every palate. Weird choice. Did come from the dairy that made the local salted butter.
Grape Sorbet with Sultana “Financier”, Verjus Foam and Raisin “Coulis”
Yay for palate cleanser. It tasted like really good grape soda in sorbet form. A little candied champagne grape was a cute touch, but texturally a little strange compared to the lightness of the sorbet, verjus and financier. In retrospect, I feel like once we hit the desserts the level of the meal went down a little.
“Charlotte aux Poires et Aux Dates” Bartlett Pear Sorbet, “Japonais” Candied Hazelnuts, and Amedei Chuao Chocolate Sauce, “Tartue Aux Figues” Truffle Honey-Mascarpone Ice Cream, Caramelized Puff Pastry and Jacobsen’s Farm Figs, “Delice au Chocolat et a La Menthe” with Amedei Chuao Chocolate-Mint “Parfait” and Mint Syrup
I can’t remember too much about my desserts. I liked the candied hazelnuts, which I’ve had on the chocolate hazelnut dessert at Jaleo and I love. What I remember most was how overwhelmingly sweet the pear and fig desserts were. Very, very sweet. The mint dessert reminded me of an Andes chocolate.
Creme brulee, pots de creme with raspberry bottom, vanilla cream on top
Ideal creme brulee. I don’t really know what else to say. Good custard and a nice burnt sugar crust, but I guess I wasn’t blown away. My friend J. for some reason got a pots de creme. I got once taste and he wouldn’t let it go. It was amazing. Creamy vanilla and custard with such awesome fruity coulis at the bottom.
Powdered sugar, milk chocolate, caramel-covered macadamia nuts; black pepper and Nicoise olive financiers, Valronha chocolates, (starting from first layer calissons with orange zest, pate d’framboise, chili truffles
The macadamia nuts were weird. Soft tooth through the chocolate and then a tooth-rattling bite through the caramel into the soft fatty macadamia nut. That was… bizarre. I loved the salty touch of olives in the financiers that are made with almond flour. Valronha chocolates were REALLY, REALLY sweet. Ugh. Painful.
Calissons are a specialty of Provence. Made from almond paste, I’d found them to be pretty disgusting before. These were balanced out nicely with small bits of orange peel. The pate d’framboise were lovely concentrated chunks of raspberry flavor. Awesome. Chili pepper truffles. Spice and chocolate. Interesting combo, and not too sweet.
Wow. The end.