Laundry time!

I’ve been meaning to write about the meal we had at French Laundry from the minute we were seated in the restaurant. But here we are, nearly two months later. I was clearing up my desk and found the menu from that night so decided I should get typing, before it goes missing again.

When I knew that we’d be visiting Napa after San Francisco, I took a look at the French Laundry website and tried to make a reservation – of course, they were booked up for the next six months. So when we got to Napa, we thought we’d just show up at the restaurant and try our luck.. after all I’m sure lots of people cancel their reservations last-minute after waiting for half a year.

Luck would have it that they were able to find us a table. We had to wait about an hour but they were absolutely charming and served us drinks and let us go and have a walk around their vegetable garden, which was just across the road. It was great to watch chefs running into the garden from the restaurant, obviously to pick something that had run out.

The French Laundry garden

Once we were seated, Simon and I grinned at each other – French Laundry is one of the restaurants I’ve always wanted to try and we were sitting there, about to embark upon one of the best meals we’ll probably ever have.

I’m not going to explain every dish in detail as there were over 11 courses so I’ll just share the photos I took of each one (not the best images, it was very low-lit inside). Each plate that came out was absolutely exquisite – it wasn’t just the incredible pairing of flavours, but also the artful presentation. I stared at each plate for at least a minute or two before trying my hardest not to eat the contents all in one go.

Oysters and Pearls – sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar

Moulard Duck Foie Gras Au Torchon - fennel bulb, Santa Rosa plum, whipped white honey and pine nut vinaigrette

Three different salts to go with the foie gras

Sautéed Fillet of Atlantic Cod – charred onions, artichokes, toybox tomatoes, arugula and Spanish saffron

Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Mitts - Akita Komachi rice, shishito peppers, red radish, cilantro shoots and coconut curry emulsion

Wolfe Ranch White Quail - smoked buttermilk dumpling, Jacobsen's Farm apples, spigarello, red walnuts and sauce perigourdine

Tete de Cochon – ground cherries, Tokyo turnips, nasturtium and Dijon mustard

Snake River Farms 'Calotte de Boeuf Grillee' - bone marrow, hen-of-the-woods mushroom, Brentwood corn, romaine lettuce and jus d'Estragon

Tomme de Brebis, French Laundry piccalilli and watercress puree

Soy Milk Sherbet - black mission fig, young ginger and French Laundry Garden lemon verbena

Caramelia Chocolate Cremeux - Gros Michel banana, Georgia peanuts, Dentelle and salted popcorn ice cream

Peach Melba - Siciilan pistachio, Pain de Genes, Andante Dairy yogurt, biscotti and raspberry sorbet

Coffee and Doughnuts - cinnamon-sugared doughnut and a coffee cup filled with cappuccino mousse

Looking back over the photos, I’m amazed we managed all these courses with such ease. I left feeling happily full but not overstuffed. Each dish was incredibly memorable and I can still vividly recreate the flavours and textures in my mind.

We’ll probably need to go to LA again next year so I’m already trying to figure out how we can take a detour to Yountville.. this time I’ll make sure we book well ahead of time though, we might not be so lucky a second time!


Baking and eggs

I found myself at franc franc one evening, trying to find some plates and props for our the next foodie shoot. The more issues we do, the harder it is to get find stuff that isn’t just white or indeed, horrible and flowery. franc franc is one of the few places that stock more unusual, modern dinnerware. That being said, it’s also pretty pricey, so when I saw they were on sale, I snapped up some ceramic cocotte pots that I immediately pictured myself baking eggs in.

The next day was Saturday (yes I spent my friday night shopping for discount dishes) and it turned out Ben and I were both home and up early that day, so we decided to make breakfast.

As always, I hadn’t really planned ahead so we just cooked what we had in the fridge – some free range eggs, mushrooms, feta, and two bunches of asparagus, green and white, that Lee at Graze had left over from a catering job.

I quickly sautéed the mushrooms with some garlic and butter, whilst Ben blanched some of the asparagus. I added this into a mixture of two whisked eggs, some milk, salt, pepper and Italian parsley. After pouring this into the cocotte pots, I placed some roughly cut up feta on top and then cracked a whole egg over each. We popped them into the oven and meanwhile stewed some tomatoes, red onions and rosemary together.

Egg, asparagus and mushroom mixture

With feta layer

And another egg on top

Tomatoes, onion and rosemary

The pots took about 10 minutes to cook through, and we served them up with white asparagus and buttery toast soliders.

They came out really well, though could probably have done with a minute or two less in the oven as the yolk wasn’t very runny. In the end, we turned them out, upside down and covered them with plenty of the tomato sauce.

The final dish

Turned out and upside down, with tomato sauce on top

Cut open

Tomato sauce