The French Laundry

aka The culinary experience of a lifetime


Daria and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary wtih a special treat today -- dinner at the French Laundry. In case you don't know about this place (surprisingly I hadn't heard of it till Daria mentioned it -- a sin for a Foodie like me), it is one of the most famous restaurants in the US and throughout the world (do a Google search to see some of the hype). I also didn't realize what an amazing feat it was to get reservations at this place (all credit to Daria's persistent calling) until much later. The way it works: the restaurant starts taking reservations 2 MONTHS in advance of the day you want to eat, with phone lines opening at 9:30 and generally all spots (62?) are gone in an hour or so. Oh, and their phone is nearly always busy! Supposedly it helps to be a VIP of sorts or have connections, but Daria managed just fine --> she's a VIP in my book =)

Before going on with my thoughts on the experience, I wanted to share a little bit about us. Daria and I are defintely what I would call "Foodies" or food people. A little exchange will help explain things. The following is a tidbit from a conversation between two of my friends and former colleagues, Tony Givargis and Victor Hill:

Tony:  Victor, you may live to eat, but I eat to live.

As food people, we are more like Victor in his outlook on life than Tony. We take great pleasure in a well-prepared meal, and have a very high regard for the culinary arts. I'm a definite foodie: I watch the food network, I have Iron Chef gear, I've read food books (books about Chefs/Cooking schools) and cook books for fun, and I'd attend the CIA (Culinary Institute of America, not the other CIA) in a heartbeat if it was economically viable.

Now that we've got that out of the way, on to the experience. The only other "Haute Cusine" I've been privy to is Chez Panisse at Berkeley, and I must admit that the French Laundry was more impressive. We had the Chef's Tasting Menu which consisted of 9 plates (small portions, but still incredibly filling in the end), all of which were fantastic (though the Maine Lobster was the best, IMHO). Daria: Well, that's just because Puneet did not dare have foie gras, which was the be-all and end-all of my food experiences! I believe foie gras is liver of a goose raised on special diet with daily massage, for exquisite tenderness of the meat... Only a few farms in the world go to the trouble of doing all this, hence foie gras is among the most expensive edible things out there, by weight. (The most expensive one must be saffron...) Puneet also missed out on the poached oyster with a side of caviar, owing to his highly erroneous opinion of caviar. Unfortunately, he happens to agree with the description of caviar solicited by an ex-coworker of mine: "Little fishy balls that explode disturbingly in your mouth"... I guess some things you just have to grow up on in order to appreciate. Like black salt (but that's another story altogether). We also had Champagne, a half-bottle of some white (Daria: not "some white" but Viognier, a very nice aromatic concoction; you'd think they make it from herbs, not grapes) along with the opening plates, and a half-bottle of Barolo with the later-half of the meal. (Daria: Ahh.. Barolo... If only it wasn't $80 for half-bottle!) The service was impeccable, and I don't think I've ever had a waiter at a restaurant tell me the plate being served (along w/ all ingredients -- "A medium-rare burger, with grilled onions, Hickory BBQ sauce and onion rings on the side"). I could go on about the food, but I'll let Daria fill in that part in her blog... (Done! All the stuff in blue was indeed my blog.) This was one of the most memorable (and most expensive) meals I have ever had -- I joked with Daria that we'd have to eat Ramen for the next several months to make up for the costs. =)


Since we dressed up for the experience (dress code: jackets required, ties optional for men... nothing specific for women, probably assuming they'd use their chance to dress to impress anyway), here's your opportunity to see us looking nice. When we hit the road, jeans, hiking boots and unisex t-shirts are more likely to be in vogue.

Puneet and Daria at French Launry Daria surrounded by flowers