Sunday, November 25, 2007

French Laundry

Jane took us to French Laundry up in Yountville today. She and her two sons flew in from Denver last night, and we all rendezvoused in Napa today. The vineyards were spectacularly red and gold, with a carpet of green, as we drove up this morning under low clouds. Flocks of starlings looped over the road as we approached the town.

Eating here was something that Jane has wanted to do... the prix fixe prices put it somewhere above the financial limit that I set for eating a meal. However, I have to say that for a special occasion, it was really worth it. Each tiny course was like a little work of art. Each one had an interesting taste combination. By the time 8 or 9 courses were downed, over 3 hours, we were all stuffed and very very happy with what we had eaten. The ambiance was very highbrow and like a library - at first, we spoke low and in whispers. Later, the room warmed up as people pushed back their chairs and chatted more freely.

I had a glass of Riesling that was the best I've ever had. I had Maine Lobster Tail flavored with vanilla butter. Wow, so sweet and so tender. The French bleu cheese "bleu du bocage" was so strong and wonderful that even though it was one of the last courses, I had to eat every little bit.

There are only about 15 tables in the place, and a slew of waiters take care of you - not one per table, but all of them at different times. They took care to always place a plate in front of each of us at exactly the same moment. After placing it down, one of the senior waiters would "introduce us" to each item. Some of the details were too much, like what kind of chicken laid the eggs that my tiny omelette were made of, or where the local onions were grown. They make an effort to have locally grown food, and even the caviar was from Sacramento. Dan, who is a caviar aficionado, said it was some of the best he's had. Not too salty. They provided three types of salt, one of which was called "Jurassic salt". I pictured a dinosaur holding a salt shaker. It was extremely salty and a little pink in color.

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