Saturday, October 17, 2009
I Have Ben to the Top Of The Mountain...and the View is Spectacular
Contrary to anybodys belief on my own personal state of mind and the content that riddles this particular blog, I am not soley a jaded, chip on the shoulder elitist that takes valuable time out of his day to simply unload bags semantic waste on the industry that chose me as a member.
With every course of unwanted and seemingly indigestible plate of brussel sprouts and boiled cabbage, there is always the promise of an ice cream Sunday or piece of pecan pie as a reward. (let the record show I actually enjoy brussel sprouts and boiled cabbage, but one cannot escape the iconic image of undesirable when using these timeless examples). This is your (the readers) pecan pie!
This career in F&B marathon that most recently has yielded toil and torment have crescendoed in the form of the single handed best dining experience of my career!
I speak lovingly as to properly dictate the sheer gastronomical heights achieved by this sleepy little cottage in Yountville called The French Laundry, and accented so appropriately with the perfectly casted table of characters.
In attendance for this carnival for carnivores were some of my most cherished inhabitants of the earth from all generations and walks of life. All of whom, not only shared in, but overwhelmingly relished in appreciation for our 4 hour dining experience. "OOHHS and "AAHHS" abound!
The exterior of the French Laundry in Yountville is that of a Thomas Kincade painting. You know the place. Cozy brick laden cottage with wonderfully historic old gnarled trees wrapping around the front of the multi paned facade that allow just a peak into the candle lit kitchen from the manicured front lawn, not big enough to pitch a large camping tent on. Inviting to say the least.
Sufficed to say that I will not be reliving the marathon meal ingredient by ingredient, but rather touching on the aspects that set this place apart form all others.
Aspects like the servers in full pressed suits that are clinically clean. No traces of last night sweat on the cuffs of these pros, and all three buttons up the front fastened fastidiously accenting the perfect Windsor knot under a starched collar.....and her name was Shannon!
Allowing us to select between the left side nine course chefs tasting menu or the right side nine course chefs tasting menu in vegetables (both $240.00 U.S. tax and tip included), she sided up to the table and warmly greeted us before reciting every word with extra descriptors from memory from both sides of said menu. (reader be aware that these menus are completely different day-to-day, presenting any intellectual being the mammoth task of flawless execution.)
At four points in the nine course meal, we the consumer are forced to make a decision between two items. I.E. the Sauteed Fillet of Columbia River Sturgeon or the Sashimi of Japanese Hamachi, the Sirloin of Devils Gulch Ranch Rabbit "En Persillade" or the Moulard (not Mallard) Duck "Foie Gras En Terrine"...you get the idea.
Shortly after marking our decisions she vanishes and is only to be seen again twice during the meal itself and then constantly at the end. The rest of the duties have been turned over to her more than capable support crew. I will refrain now and forever from calling these people runners, bussers, or expos because that does their craft no justice.
Throughout the next four plus hours plates are placed from the left with the left hands in synchronized service right under your nose, and silently. Really-you look down and there is food, and you wonder..."how the hell did that get there" as a flash of black blazer ducks down the stairs just out of the corner of your eye.
Upon placed perfection an adorable little french man (no more than 20 years old) arrives and explains what is in front of you with a heavy French accent and the precision of a surgeon. (Also flawless)
Let the "Oh My Gods" and the "Can You Believe This" followed by the occasional "There Are No Words" ensue, but never...I MEAN NEVER..the "Holy Shits" and "Jesus Christs" (this isn't the place, as much as you want to scream it). And it is this way until the last morsel and sip of hot coffee vanish from existence.
This type of eating is art. It is so much more than food and beverage. It is religion.
The evening starts very quiet and perfectly postured with conversations of world travel and books you are reading, but ends with voice volume above clinking silverware and conversation of Kool Aide and nakedness, not unlike how any successful and appreciated meal should choose to dictate what a wonderful time one is having.
While this particular experience has now been checked off my bucket list, not unlike anything a person thoroughly enjoys, the thought of a potential second helping is salivated over, and rest assured while not being able to use my time there as a bar for the standards of my own restaurant, you can bet that I will roll my eyes a little more defeated the next time one of my own forgets to put a steak knife down before the entree course......
........I just couldn't get out without a parting jab at SOMETHING, could I?
Posted by Toby Tullis