A Culinary Dream Come True

To start off with, I’m a foodie. I admit it.

I’m a food geek who not only really enjoys cooking all kinds of cuisines at home, I’m also an obsessed eater who goes out of my way to search out great food and drinks every where I go. Since I travel for my job, that has presented a lot of opportunities to dine at many different restaurants all over the United States, Asia, London and Amsterdam (so far).

In addition to food, my other obsession is photography and so I tend to take a lot of food related photos and videos. For this culinary adventure I made a short 4 minute film with a montage of photos summarizing the foods and wine we dined upon. Keep reading below for the details behind all the photos and be sure to check out the truffle shaving presentation included in this video as well.

Read on…

Last night we dined at a great place in my own state that is world famous and located a mere two hour drive from my house in our country’s famously great wine region, Napa Valley.

I’ve been reading all about this restaurant for years, watching food and travel shows about it, hearing stories about it from friends who have gone. Every time this restaurant was brought up, my anticipation grew exponentially year after year – for nearly fifteen years.

Even my foodie heroes Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman did a really cool show about their experience dining at this restaurant.  (Click this LINK to watch the 20 minute episode about their visit)

I’ll be honest, dining here has always been at the very top of my bucket list. I was really happy about finally getting to go here, I am still excited about it days later.

My good friend John who wrote a book about wine and runs the wine review website www.y9review.com had the idea for getting together and going to this restaurant a couple months ago to celebrate his birthday. Since I had just turned the big five oh a few weeks prior, I figured we’d make a huge celebration out of it… and we did.

He called and made the reservations and we were set.

We all waited with immensely great anticipation for those two months until the day finally arrived. January 16th, 2016.

The French Laundry is a 3 star Michelin rated, James Beard award winning restaurant located at 6640 Washington Street in Yountville California and is owned by Thomas Keller.

This restaurant is consistently in Restaurant Magazine’s Top 50 Best Restaurants List and  has won Best Restaurant in the World several times. Anthony Bourdain, who’s been filmed dining around the entire globe on his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown said The French Laundry “is the best restaurant in the world, period.”

That works for me, and after last night I can say I wholeheartedly agree.

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We had reservations for a 5:30pm seating for our group of six consisting of myself and my wife Ronda, John and his wife Shawn and Michael and his wife Tiffany.

We arrived a few minutes early and checked out the restaurant gardens across the street and then went inside to get started.

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Once we were seated we ordered an exclusive bottle of bubbly that is only sold at The French Laundry,  Modicum, “Schramsberg Vineyards,” Extra Brut, Blanc de Blancs, North Coast 2011. We then placed our orders for the Chef’s Tasting Menu with a few of us ordering a couple of the optional upgrade supplements.

My fellow diners John and Michael (who are wine experts) talked to the sommelier and had her do a custom wine pairing leaving the selections in her very capable hands. All she did was ask for a price range and region selection. She did not disappoint us. We enjoyed some very fine local Napa wines along with wines from Burgundy France.

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The service at The French Laundry is simply outstanding, and very friendly.

For each plating, new and unique dishware and silverware were brought out and napkins were replaced frequently as well. It was interesting watching the staff of four change out our tableware so often and it was interesting seeing and dining on the different types of plates. The wine glasses too were all different and very fine for every different wine we had, which made each sip taste all that much better.

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To start we were brought out their famous traditional canapes.
The first starter was Gougéres which were savory cheese puffs. The second starter was their famous Salmon Tartar Cornet with sweet red onion créme fraîche.

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For the first course we had the upgraded supplement option which was Royal Ossetra Caviar with Maine Lobster “en Gelée”, Horseradish ‘Bavarois”, Fine Herbes and Oyster Crackers. This was paired with Weinbach, Pinot Gris, “Cuvee Laurence,” Alsace 2007.

It was delicious! Such interesting textures and outstanding deep flavors.

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The second course was Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm with Spice Poached D’Anjou Pears, Sicilian Pistachios and Garden Chicories. This was paired with Arietta, Sauvignon Blanc, “On The White Keys – Artists Reserve,” California 2011.

I actually liked this better then I was expecting, it was very tasty and textural.

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The third course was Slow Cooked Fillet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout with Ruby Grapefruit Confit, Caramelized Garden Beets, Wild Sorrel and “Beurre Maltaise”. This was paired with Jean-Philippe Fichet, Mersault, Burgundy 2013.

The trout was cooked perfect and tasted great.

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The fourth course was absolutely delicious, Sunflower Seed Crusted Stoning Maine Sea Scallop with Charred Eggplant “Panisse,” Compressed Persian Cucumbers, Globe Artichokes and Brokaw Avocado Yogurt. Paired with Giorgio Rivetti-La Spinetta, Barbaresco, “Starderi,” Piedmont 1998

The crust on the scallop was amazing, really good interesting flavors and the crunch of the crust made a perfect marriage of textures with the soft scallop. We were all amazed with the great tasting eggplant panisse.

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In between courses we were given their homemade butters, cheeses and breads to enjoy. The bread were baked up the street at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.

Everything tasted absolutely delicious. We all loved the tasty cheeses.
Perfection.

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We enjoyed many different types of wines, they were all excellent and paired extremely well with each course that we were served.

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The fifth course was one of my favorites and was another optional upgrade supplement.

I planned on getting this dish for weeks. This was my first time trying real authentic truffles. Needless to say I was very excited to be watching the truffle presentation taking place before me at The French Laundry.

This dish was Carnaroli Risotto Biologico with “Parmigiano Reggiano” and Shaved Black Winter Truffles from Provence. This was paired with Giorgio Rivetti-La Spinetta, Barbaresco, “Starderi,” Piedmont 1998

The rissotto and truffles tasted really great, very delicate savory flavors.

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The sixth course was amazing and another first for me. I got to finally try Japanese Wagyu Beef. This course was another upgrade supplement that I had wanted to try for a long time.

The dish was Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu with Gold Potato and Gruyère “Rösti” with Garden Broccoli “Panade,” Sweet Carrot “Buttons” and Wild Mustard Blossoms. Paired with La Sirena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2006.

This was by far the best beef I’ve ever tasted.

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For dessert we had a variety of dishes starting with Andante Dairy “Mélange” with Golden Raisin “Pâte de Fruit,” Marcona Almond Shortbread and Cauliflower Cream. Paired with Philippe Foreau, Vouvray, “Domaine du Clos Naudin,” Demi-Sec, Loire Valley 2003.

I love desserts, I was in heaven.

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With desert we also drank a Cossart Gordon, Bual, 10 Year, Madeira MV and I had to try a good glass of port so I ordered a Cockburn 1983 Port. We finished things off with a couple glasses of 1953 Hill Vintage Cognac.

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Just when we thought the night was over, we all got invited to tour the kitchen and meet the Chef de Cuisine, David Breeden.

This was an amazing way to cap a night of the best fine dining we’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy. Seeing the kitchen and crew where the “magic” happens was very cool to get to see.

We are truly fortunate people. This was the dining experience of a lifetime.

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Cheers!

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