Friday, October 28, 2011

The French Laundry

Prepared to head out to supper

Taking our Deerfield Ranch DRX to supper

Signature Laundry Pins

A half bottle of champagne to start the night
(chosen on their iPad wine list - an update from our last visit)

Michel Turgy, "Réserve," Blanc de Blancs, Mesnil-sur-Oger

Warm Gourges (Cheese Puffs)

Salmon Tartare with Creme Fraiche in Handmade Cones
"Oysters and Pearls"
"Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
First serving of bread with Cowgirl Creamery Sweet Butter made for TFL
and a whipped, salted butter (MrP's fave butter on earth)
Chanterelle Mushroom Veloute
Nantes carrots, Cipollini Onion Marmalade, Coriander and Curry Creme Fraiche
Salad of Black Mission Figs
Fennel Bulb, Piedmont Hazelnuts, Arugula and 100-Year Aged Balsamic Vinegar

"Fish and Chips"
Sauteed Fillet of Mediterranean Rouget, Garlic "Palettes" and Parlsey Coulis

"Smoked" Fillet of Atlantic Cod
Littleneck Clams, Confit Potatoes,  Celery Branch and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

(this was a play on New England Corn Chowder)
Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster "Mitts"
Jacobsen's Farm Pears, Roasted Salsify, "Herbes Fines" and Lobster Broth

Bacon wrapped Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin
"Musquee de Provence" Pumpkin, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberries and K&J Orchard Chestnuts

(You can't see it well, but this also had a rabbit kidney and featured a frenched rabbit chop. This is knife work at it's finest - something Chef Keller likes to feature -
highlighting the staff skills)

Wolfe Ranch White Quail
Sweet Peppers, Broccoli, Spanish Capers and Braised Pine Nuts

Snake River Farms "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee"
Baby Beets, Arrowleaf Spinach, Horseradish "Pain Perdu" and Aged Balsamic

Snake River Farms "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee"
Baby Beets, Arrowleaf Spinach, Horseradish "Pain Perdu" and Aged Balsamic

(MrP wanted a pic of his, too. - his best beef dish EVER)

"Comte Reserve"
Sour Cherry Clafoutis, Compressed Endive, Marcona Almonds, Arugula and Burgandy Truffle

Verjus Sorbet
Candied Cashews, Grapes and Mountain Mint
(This dish was designed to be a palate cleanser, following the beef - before dessert -
 but could have easily been the showcase; the flavor of the sorbet was incredible.)

Caramelized White Chocolate "Namelaka"
Piedmont Hazelnuts, Toasted Oats and Black Mission Fig Sorbet

To celebrate our anniversary they also brought out out a Chocolate Wine cCke

"Pommes Anna"
Funnel cake, "Pruneaux d'Agen", Rum "Anglaise" and Salted Caramel Ice Cream


As a special treat, guests last night were also presented with an original French Laundry classic
"Coffee and Donuts"
 consisting of a frozen cappucino semi-freddo with sugar dusted beignet.
They also provided their traditional caramel covered macadamia nuts.
MrP holding the copy of the menu heading into the French Laundry kitchen

Milton's (our main waiter - you can see his hand here) giving us a tour of the kitchen and explaining the various stations. Here is where the vegetables and fish(?!) stations.
Protein station, followed by Pastry (who are always the last chefs to finish up)
The two of us under the five stars of Thomas Keller

Wine Cellar

Chef Timothy Hollingsworth discussing next night's menu with one of his staff

Chef Hollingsworth
The one 'regret' we had of the evening was that we didn't even think to have our picture taken with him! LOL
He was very humble (upon congratulations of their retention of the Michelin 3 stars, his reaction was "Thank you! It's definitely a group effort!"

Autographed menu
(he's even got an elegant signature!)

Parting Gift

Shortbread and the unfinished macadamia caramel chocolates
At the beginning of the evening, we were unsure of whether our second visit could stand up to the hype of the first, which was undeniably the best dining experience we'd ever had. After visiting Daniel in NY, we'd both thought they might have won for 'best food'. (Our first visit to TFL having been our first three star dining experience, we were still learning the ins & outs of what we enjoyed).

While there was really nowhere to go but down, somehow The French Laundry's staff managed to make this visit even better, outdoing themselves once again. The food was exquisite, the the service was spectacular and the experience was second to none. Still #1 in our books - in both experience and food,

(As a side note, I told MrP that had I died last night, it really would've been my perfect day - fabulous day of exercise, followed by the best meal of my life!)

Day 3 in Napa - Part One

We figured it was only fair that The French Laundry gets it's own post - plus today's bike can stand alone. It was a solid, enjoyable ~22 miles of biking. If I'm honest, it was the one day in Napa that I had more say than MrP. It was one of my 'must do' things for Napa. He booked it, but I pointed him in the right direction (and today, I had the final say in which route we took - determining how long we rode). Yep, I'm a bit of a planning nazi. Whatcha gonna do about it?!

Anyways, we checked in at Napa Valley Bike Tours just after 10 this morning for our self guided tour (meaning they'd deliver lunch at 1 to a winery along our way with a picnic area - which ended up being the beautiful Clos du Val since we knew they had a lovely, scenic area). They also picked up any purchases made throughout the day.

Starting out our route North out of Yountville on a beautiful, quiet country road

I loved this gnarly tree - and MrP loved the longhorns

Welcome to Napa Valley indeed!
We actually cycled through the Yountville, Stag's Leap, Oak Knoll wine districts

Opus One has a pretty cool building - even from the service road street

Hello gorgeous!

MrP heads in to visit our first winery stop - Silver Oak

The Tasting Room at Silver Oak

A couple from Pennsylvania took our picture in exchange for me taking theirs

Fountain looking from Tasting Room into vineyards
(none of which are Silver Oak's)
Purchased a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon - Palmer count: 21

Our second winery visit,
another recommendation from our cycling guides,
Plumpjack Winery

MrP couldn't be serious for one shot after picking up a bottle of their Chardonnay
Palmer count: 22

Robert Sinskey Vineyards (crossing Silverado Trail was a bit challenging)

Tasting Room at Robert Sinskey

Sexy guy in bike shorts at Robert Sinskey
(AKA happy camper with a bottle of Zin being picked up for us)

Palmer count: 23

A second visit to stunning Clos du Val
but this time, it was to eat in their beautiful picnic area for lunch

Sandwiches, Apples, Water, Chocolates, Chips, Potato Salad for lunch

Enjoying lunch

I love hydrangeas and these were beautiful!
(MrP took my pic with these green ones rather than the pinkish ones that had a spider web among them)

We didn't stop, but rode past Trefethen Family Vineyards in our attempt to get to Chandon, then Elyse in time for our scheduled visit. We did enjoy the Trefethen wine with supper at The Cliff House, though.

What a day for a bike ride.

Here we are, cycling along

Making faces

And then the creep comes along and says "I'm gonna get you!"

So we stopped for a proper photo together

Domaine Chandon
We hadn't heard many complimentary things about the people working at Chandon,
but we had a great experience. Our tasting guy was playful, personable and gave "Canada"
an extra Signature sparkling wine glass (clean one for me, the one we used for MrP)

Beautiful grounds at Domaine Chandon
We did the Classic Flight to try the wines we knew we could get at home...

and discovered their classic brut is quite a tasty number. We'll pick that up at home!

Resting at Domaine Chandon

Redd - the restaurant by day
(since our visit was at 6:45 on Tuesday, we couldn't get a proper photo)

Since it was along the way, we took a few pics of the unassuming ex- Laundry

I can't wait to share our supper details...A-FREAKING-MAZING!

The French Laundry/Ad Hoc Gardens across the street from The French Laundry

More garden (there's little tags with the French Laundry logo indicating what's growing)

Elyse Winery, named after the daughter of the owner/winemaker
After trying their C'est si Bon and Cab Sauv Port at Redd, MrP had to try more.

They have a funny story about their brother label, Jacob Franklin

MrP pets the winery dog, an older Boxer genteman

Leaving with a bottle of C'est si Bon (It's so good)
Palmer count: 23

After our day of cycling, we headed back to the hotel for a shower, rest and preparation for our big night out. I feel like I should warn you - the photos were NOT great. The restaurant prefers no flash used (as is the case at most fine dining establishments), but were too nice last time to obviously tell us to turn the damn thing off. LOL

This time, we knew better, so our photos are not so amazing, but we met Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, took a kitchen tour and had an outstanding evening.