A Hawaii transplant living it up on the East Coast for the past 14 years (Boston and Stamford, CT). I write about food, books, adventures in CT and NYC, products I love, the oxford comma, and my current journey of trying to go from lazy sack of potatoes to marathon runner. But mostly I write about food. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 1, 2012
French Laundry: A Foodie’s Dream Come True: Things I Ate with White Wine* (Part 2 of 3)
*Not a legit pairing master over here
Before they started inundating our table with our 9-course dinner, they started off with 2 little amuse bouche (bouches?). The first were gruyère cheese gougères, little puff pastry dough balls filled with cheese and hot out of the oven. The second was Thomas Keller’s famous smoked salmon cornets filled with red onion crème fraîche. As this particular amuse bouche is one of my top five dishes in the world to eat, I’ve tried to recreate it using The French Laundry cookbook. It was a raging disaster. The cornets burned my fingers (taking weeks to heal) and after all that the cornets still did not resemble a cone at all. And the taste – absolutely disgusting! So more so, it was impressive.
Our first course on the menu was a choice between either the French Laundry’s famous Oysters and Pearls or something I will just call an onslaught of caviar (for a $50 supplemental fee). Now caviar is fantastic but Oysters and Pearls also make my top five favorite dishes in the ENTIRE world so that was an easy selection to choose between. The actual name of the dish, ‘”Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar’ includes two butter-poached oysters sitting on a tapioca custard made with eggs, cream, crème fraiche, butter and oyster juice. And served alongside a huge spoonful of caviar.
The second course was another choice between two dishes. I went with the ‘Moulard Duck “Foie Gras en Terrine”’ served with fennel bulbs, peaches, marcona almonds and a white tea “gastrique.” Thomas Keller has spoken often about his belief in the “law of diminishing returns,” meaning the more you have of something the less you like it. Therefore, his dishes are typically established based on the idea that he wants you to finish each dish wishing you had one more bite. However, when it comes to dishes like foie gras, he throws this belief out the window, providing generous portions so that the customer really gets the flavors and appreciates it. Hey, that’s fine by me. And I swear, this was some of the most amazing foie gras en terrine I’ve ever had. It came with warm brioche bread (which is switched out by the wait staff after 10 minutes or so in order for the customer to always have warm bread on hand) and 3 different salts: a Filipino deep sea salt, a Brittany hand harvest salt, and the most impressive, a Jurassic salt (read: millions upon millions of years old) harvested from the copper mines of Montana.
For Ryan’s second course, he went with the other option, ‘Jardinière de Légumes de Printemps.’ This was fresh vegetables such as beets, carrots, and carrots from the French Laundry gardens and served with meyer lemon, oyster lettuce, and green goddess dressing. I’ve never tasted vegetables so delicious in my life. Every night French Laundry produces two menus, a regular chef’s tasting menu and a “tasting of vegetables” menu as well. I had never thought about getting the vegetable tasting menu before, but after stealing delicious bites off of Ryan’s plate, I’d love to go back to sample a full tasting of vegetables… though maybe with a request for at least one dish substituted for foie gras!
The third course was the last of the either-or dishes with the options of (a) Sautéed Fillet of Daurade: Big Fin Squid, Spanish Saffron, Rice, Chorizo, Parsley and Red Pepper Emulsion,
or (b) Soft Shell Crab “En Feuille De Brick”: Cara Cara Orange, Baby Beets, Red Ribbon Sorrel and Green Peppercorn Sauce.
What can I say (and I also figured it was time to give you guys a break on my food gushing), both dishes were superb. Although I do think that I liked Ryan’s soft shell crab dish better than my own fillet of daurade (I kept stealing bits of food off his plate, because my own 9+ courses were clearly not enough).