The French Laundry * Ad Hoc * Napa
Posted on Monday, June 25, 2012 · 1 Comment
Prior to Mother’s Day – I want to say a couple weeks beforehand – Taro told me we were going somewhere, but it was going to be after work ended. He didn’t say anything more than that despite me asking a bazillion questions. ”Is Emi going?” “Are we flying?” “Is it San Diego?” ”French Laundry?!?” The last question Taro actually gave me a funny look and said, “No.” I didn’t think we were going anywhere too far, especially since Emi had a doctor appointment on that Monday (He actually told me the day we were going, which happened to be Father’s Day). So I patiently – okay, more like impatiently – waited. And finally Taro revealed the secret plan, but only because I would have to spend a night and some away from Emi. He told me on Mother’s Day, as we sat at Bouchon celebrating my mom. The way he told me was quite funny and cute. He bought me a bento box, which I have always wanted, and at each layer, there was a slip of paper. As I unfolded each one, I kept on saying, “I don’t know where we are going,” even though in my head, I was shouting, “French Laundry, French Laundry, French Laundry! Are you we going to French Laundry?!?” So at that third slip, I still adamantly claimed I didn’t know where we were going and slowly started babbling about whether the place was in Napa…and then I finally knew when I really looked at Taro’s face. And at that point I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs.
But Taro told me not to say anything, especially to my best friend, Kris, because he couldn’t get a reservation for 4. (We have been talking about French Laundry for a couple of years now.) So even though I was ecstatic about going, I was so conflicted that I couldn’t tell Kris and have her be there with me for what could potentially be the best dinner EVER.
And then I accidentally stumbled across an email. I blame Taro for leaving it open on the iPad and I kid you not, it froze on that email. I ordinarily would have ignored it except I saw Kris’ name on top and the subject line: FWD: Napa. And then I couldn’t help but skim over it and realized SHE WAS GOING, TOO! All I could think was, those sneaky people! And then I was so happy that Kris and Adrian would be joining us for what could only be an incredible Sunday.
To say it was incredible wouldn’t do it justice. It was the best Sunday I could ask for. We hopped on a plane (Thank you, Jet Blue, for that great mystery offer in my email that paid for all four of our tickets!), drove for an hour, and began our day in Yountville at Ad Hoc. Yes, it was a Thomas Keller filled Sunday.
After brunch, we went tandem bike riding to the vineyards. The first few minutes of bike riding was me panicking and shouting, “You’re going too fast, Taro! Slow down, slow down, slow down!” I have not rode a bike since I was in high school so there was much anxiety and fear, especially since I was just staring into Taro’s back! However, once we figured things out, we headed over to Opus One and enjoyed a couple glasses there. Afterwards, we biked to Cakebread, which had a wonderful tasting. I credit it to Don, who was not only knowledgeable on the wines, but generous with sharing different years for us to compare and contrast! We had fun tasting and socializing and I am still amazed that we were able to bike back to our hotel! Our legs were definitely jello-like and I was pretty tired…but not too tired for dinner.
French Laundry. As I write this, I still cannot believe that we went. I can’t believe Taro called for a month trying to get reservations. That is commitment, patience…but most of all, love. He knew I wanted to go, and he made it happen. So this is our unbelievable food journey at The French Laundry.
“Oysters and Pearls” – “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapoica with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar:
Royal Ossetra Caviar – Lychee, Garden Cucumber, Young Ginger and Meyer Lemon:
Mollard Duck “Foie Gras Parfait” – Blueberries, Purple Top Turnip, Komatsuna, Graham Cracker and Vanilla Glaze:
Grilled Fillet of Gulf Coast Cobia – Ruby Red Grapefruit, Radishes, Cashew, Chili and Shishito Pepper Viaigrette:
Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Tail – Sweet corn “Pain Perdu,” Green Tomato, Zucchini, Frisee and Basil (Left):
Four Story Hill Farm “Poularde” – Hobbs’ Bacon, Haas Avocado, Baby Beets, Romaine Lettuce and Kendall Farms Creme Fraiche:
Blackmore Ranch Wagyu – Turnips, Morel Mushrooms, English Peas, Bearnaise “Mousseline” and “sauce Bordelaise” (Left) and Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rack – “tabbouleh,” Globe Artichokes, Roasted Grapes, Cilantro, Marcona Almonds and Charred Eggplant (Right):
“Landaff En Feuille De Brick” – Santa Rosa Plums, Petite Onions, Parsley and Nicoise Olives:
“Marjolaine” – Praline Mousse, “Dacquoise” and Banana Sherbet (Left):
Cream Cheese “Bavarois” – Acacia Honey “Granite,” French Laundry Garden Strawberries and Black Pepper “Aigre-Doux”:
The service was amazing at French Laundry and I especially cannot thank the sommelier enough for not only giving us a quick tour of the kitchen, but also asking Michael Wallace to sign our menus and take a picture with us. From start to finish, it was everything I imagined…and more.
On Monday, Kris and Adrian picked up goodies from Bouchon for breakfast before we headed over to Castello di Amorosa for not only a tasting, but a tour. A castle in Napa! Who could ever imagine? The tour was pretty interesting, especially since there was a torture room – with actual things to torture an individual! – along with the fact that the materials used to construct the castle were brought back from Europe.
After our castle tour and wine tasting, we enjoyed lunch at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.
Before saying goodbye to Napa, I had to stop and get some goodies for my mom at Bouchon…along with macarons for myself. However, this wasn’t our last stop. We were crazy enough to swing by Hog Island Oyster Company for a dozen oysters. Taro said we had literally four minutes to consume them so we could make it to the airport in time.
And that was our trip. Magical. Fantastic. Amazing. I’m lucky to have Taro, but also great friends like Kris and Adrian who helped plan and make this something that was not only special, but unforgettable.
Categories: EAT · Tags: Ad Hoc, Ad Hoc Napa Valley, Ad Hoc Thomas Keller, Blackmore Ranch Wagyu, Bouchon, Bouchon Thomas Keller, Cakebread Winery, Castello di Amorosa, Chef Michael Wallace, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Cream Cheese Bavarois, Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rack, Four Story Hill Farm Poularde, French Laundry, French Laundry Chocolates, French Laundry Shortbread Cookies, Grilled Fillet of Gulf Coast Cobia, Landaff En Feuille De Brick, Macarons, Marjolaine, Michael Wallace, Mollard Duck Foie Gras Parfait, Ohnoyoudidnt Macaron, Opus One Winery, Oysters and Pearls, Royal Ossetra Caviar, Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster Tail, The French Laundry, The French Laundry Napa Valley, Thomas Keller