Feeling surprisingly spritely after our tastings the day before our next stop was an early lunch at three Michelin starred the French Laundry.
The French Laundry, which opened in 1994, was probably the restaurant that put California on the fine dining scene and emphasised the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. In fact much of the produce used is grown in the garden just across the road from the restaurant and this freshness shone through throughout my meal.
Much to the boy’s disgust I opted for the Tasting of Vegetables, with one very memorable deviation. I loved the presentation of all the dishes served to me, not least because each dish looked so colourful and organic. One of the first dishes, the Silverado Trail strawberry salad, set the tone for my meal perfectly – the early season strawberries were served on a delicious buttery almond base and were accompanied by al dente white asparagus.
Another stand out dish for me was the Alaskan crab – I originally asked to switch one dish from the tasting of vegetables for one of the options on the chef’s tasting menu and they were kind enough to oblige, however the dish I received was not from the menu but even better! Served in a very simple fashion the outstanding flavour of the crab claw shone through thanks to the perfect cooking. The accompaniments of crunchy baby carrots and beets complimented the taste and textures of the crab rather than overwhelmed it.
Towards the end of the meal there seemed to be a never-ending stream of puddings – not that I was complaining! I have to say I did have some food envy of the desserts that the boy got with the chef’s tasting menu but was more than sated by the hand-made chocolates – in particular the peanut butter and jelly chocolate which was heavenly.
The only disappointment on my part, bread fiend that I am, was that it was served cold (not that that prevent me from demolishing a slightly obscene amount of the salty bouncy pretzel sticks on offer…)
The service we received from Leah was impeccable and once again the Californian approach to fresh ingredients and unusual flavour combinations won me over.
We were further rewarded after our meal – as we left the French Laundry the sun finally came out and so we had a bit of a drive around to take in some of the views before heading on to our next destination.