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The French Laundry is a symphony of culinary genius. It has many talented musicians and the finest instruments that all come together to perform beautiful edible music. Our meal was so much more than just food but a form of performance art with many sensory delights. This restaurant has been on my bucket list for many years and we finally procured a coveted reservation. We would like to share this memorable meal with you.
The French Laundry is located in Yountville, California which is very close to the current wildfires. They were closed the previous week and assisted in feeding responders. We arrived for our 5:00 pm reservation. The building is nicely landscaped and does not give you a sense of the things to come. That is until you walk into the courtyard and see the window surronded showcase kitchen. We see numerous chefs, scurrying around the kitchen doing various food preparations. We start to feel the greatness to come.
We were seated in a small dining room and were presented with an I-Pad menu. We had several options of tasting menus. We could choose a vegetarian option or the more popular all-inclusive Chef’s Tasting menu. We could order upgrades with foie gras, caviar, and even white truffles. We choose to start out with the basic tasting menu and I use the term basic with a smile on my face.
I want to touch on the service as being an art form. We were served in flights beginning with a server bringing the proper utensils. She would suddenly appear with a knife, fork, spoon, (bone for caviar) in multiple combinations. When she would appear we knew the next course would shortly follow. When our food was delivered it would be delivered by sometimes two or more waiters. The dish would be served in unison like a choreographed dance. The waiter would then describe the dish. We tried our best to remember what he or she had said but it was all a little overwhelming at the time.
No two ingredients were repeated in this meal. Each dish had many components. This brought up the question; how do we eat this? Do we eat the dish as a whole or should we savor each ingredient? There is no right or wrong answer. We would do both. Each ingredient had its own merit and flavor. When combined with the other ingredients a marriage of flavors transformed the parts into a whole. Oh the dilemma of fine dining.
My beloved crumb sweeper appeared with a silver plated crumb tray and a matching fine tooth comb. You should have seen the smile on my face. We explained why I was so amused so she came back several times to sweep the table even though it was not needed.
One thing we noticed was how rich and flavorful the dishes were. Butter, cream and salt was used throughout. Meats and fishes were highly seasoned. I would even say they were seasoned to perfection. I did notice I was consuming a large quantity of water. When I judge barbeque water consumption also rises because of the high level of seasoning. It was all a good thing. We did have our choice of sparkling or plain water which was refilled after every course.