August 8, 2011

#3. Go to the French Laundry (again!)

french laundry!

You may remember that I had a goal to dine at The French Laundry during my 31st year of existence. I’ve been there twice before at different points in my life but I’ve been aching to try it again. Some people save money to buy a car, others save for expensive handbags or electronics. I save money for food. It’s always been this way, I swear. Before you say, “Tracy! You could have bought groceries for a few weeks with that meal from The French Laundry,” let me tell you the experience this past weekend was…EPIC. Epic in flashing lights, EPIC.

#3. Go to the French Laundry (again!) = DONE. But I couldn’t have done it without some help!

Thank you Joy & Wilson for helping us complete our party of 4!  Thank you Joy for making the meal absolutely memorable. I can’t believe you were willing to drive SEVEN hours to have dinner with us. I know The French Laundry might have had something to do with it. But seriously. You are a true friend. Also, I totally ate more than you. Not that we were in competition or anything… Thank you also for the Lemon Almond Meringues you made me! They were excellent & beautifully wrapped. I’m glad that I can finally say that I ate your food.

Wilson, nice try ordering off the menu! Thanks for driving up and staying up in Yountville. That was cool and I’m glad you let me use the bathroom in your hotel room. I can’t wait to try the makeup remover sample that I *borrowed* from your bathroom. I knew you weren’t going to need it.

Thank you Casey for bringing awesome wine for us! I know how hard you worked to figure out the wine for the evening. Don’t think I didn’t notice you toiling over your spreadsheets! Thank you also for driving us home safely that night through those crazy/windy roads. You’re my favorite eating partner/designated driver.

Thanks Rebecca for getting us a reservation less than a month before my birthday. You rock!  I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to go but you totally pulled through!

And a big THANK YOU to all of the people who cared for us so dearly that night!

Aubrey– I loved your tie and so did my husband! The service was impeccable and your enthusiasm showed. You also made me miss having long hair with your pretty braid. Seeing you bring out a black truffle in a humidor was the highlight of the evening.

Sophie– that bread box you put in front of me! Wow. Thank you for diligently wiping up my bread crumbs. I tend to make a mess, don’t I? P.S- You have a wonderful smile.

Mimi– Thank you for listening to the Joy The Baker Podcast! Hearing that you’re a fan made my YEAR! Wow!

Wine Guy– Thank you for the Grand Cru Champagne, sorry we did not catch your name nor the name of the Champagne producer but it set the tone for an amazing meal.

And thank you, Thomas Keller for being most excellent and hiring nothing but the best people to represent your restaurants. I’m going on a juice cleanse this week and was smart enough to spend the last few days before my cleanse inhaling your food at both The French Laundry & Ad Hoc. You are legit. P.S- I love your Creamed Summer Corn!

Here’s a peak of the menu!

It’s still going….

OK. We’re done! And they bring out a few add-ons too! Insane, right?

Unfortunately the light was low in the restaurant and both my camera phone & my DSLR had to work super hard! Perhaps next visit I’ll have lunch there and exploit natural sunlight? Good idea!

Here’s how we started…

french laundry

We were given a delicious tuna tartare cone & some cheesy gougères and an INCREDIBLE cold corn soup. Joy cried. Fact.

(not pictured)

Then we ate the “Oysters & Pearls” with a pretty caviar spoon! Fancy!

so cute.

There was a gazpacho…a foie gras crepe stack with sea urchin and here’s a delicious striped bass with baby corn!

In the background is a bottle of 2006 Rivers Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir; one of two Pinots Casey brought to dinner. This was followed by the 2008 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot.

blurry bass

Casey ordered the tartare of ear shell clam. It looks pretty, right?

The butter for the bread was AMAZING. They gave us salted & unsalted butters from Vermont & Petaluma.

ear shell clams

Lobster mitts. Makes me think of a lobster pulling cupcakes out of the oven…

lobster mitts

Ummm. UMMMM. GET A LOAD OF THIS TRUFFLE PARTY! There’s a C on my plate for CRAZY.

I think I shed a tear at this point. Wait no. I did. I really did.

TRUFFLES!!! holy shit

There was a chicken dish in between these two and here’s this tasty little lamb number. Amazing.


We had a cheese dish & a sweet tea sorbet palate cleanser & here’s my “Peach Melba” in quotes.

peach melba

Joy & Casey ordered this dish. I had a bite…or three. Unearthly. Seriously.

something amazing

Coffee & Doughnuts! But the coffee wasn’t coffee! It was a chilled coffee mousse!! WHAT?!

coffee & donuts

We also were given a plate of scrumptious chocolates, fancy macadamia nut candies & shortbread cookies TO-GO (see first pic).

we did it

We were the last people in The French Laundry that night. Clearly, we shut it down!

Now it’s time to start my cleanse…sigh.

  • Megan Gordon

    Amazing, Tracy. I’ve never been and would so love to one of these days….looks like a really special night; I’ve heard it’s truly a once in a lifetime kind of meal. So glad you got to go again and cross of another thing from your list! xoxo.

  • Ashley

    EPIC is right. I’m going with you next time.

  • Danielle

    This is totally worth a juice cleanse. Seriously. Went for the first time last year and reading your post has me wanting to go back. They make food taste more than just good/excellent/outstanding, it’s a whole other universe!

  • Klariza

    That’s it this is now on my list of things to do before i turn 30… good thing i have 6 years to save up lol

  • Rebecca

    Tracy, Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your experience with us!! I could ‘almost’ imagine being there with you as you described your culinary adventure!! I can’t wait to go back…hopefully before the year is over! Happy cleanse! xo

  • sara

    so super jealous. Someday, I am going to eat there and take my dad with me. We will have the greatest time, is it weird that I can see the future memory happening? good luck with your cleanse!

  • Greedy Guts

    I thought your pics were great at capturing the quality of The French Laundry. Haven’t been yet but would love to go – it looks pretty special. Good for you for checking it off your list.

  • annie

    Loved reading both accounts of this amazing dinner (yours and Joy’s)… incredibly fun and delish!

  • Heather @ chiknpastry

    Those shortbread cookies are a-mazing (dinner isn’t bad either!!).

  • Dana

    Happy birthday honey! Way to do it in style! We were supposed to eat there in May and it just didn’t happen, still on my bucket list. I’m glad you had a wonderful night.

    • Tracy

      Thanks babe! You should TOTALLY make it there. The vegetarian menu looks AWESOME. I saw the word BURRATA and almost ordered that menu. hehe!

  • Katrina

    This place sounds awesome!

  • joy the baker

    wait. crap. WAIT! when is your actual birthday? i keep forgetting! oh wait… next week.
    right? help.

    worst friend ever,

    ps. i totally love your birthstone… just fyi.

  • Kathryn

    Oh man, that looks amazing! It’s definitely on the list for when I finally get to the West Coast!

  • Jessica Ann

    Oh my GOD. I am so down with saving up for amazing meals. Who needs another stupid holiday?
    One day I will make it to The Fat Duck, godwilling.

  • Vanessa

    Sigh… I’m determined to get there one day. The food looks amazing. Damn that Thomas Keller.

  • marci

    beautiful photos, as always, Tracy!

  • Chelle

    Soooooo jealous! I can’t wait to go to the French Laundry (maybe one day when I’m old and grey…)

  • Mandy@Withmilkandflour

    Sounds like you celebrated your birthday in style! I know the feeling, after spending a week eating and celebrating my birthday, i feel the salad and exercise DVD beckoning.

  • Nicole

    It is completely genius to have a meal like this before your cleanse. I like how you roll!

  • Kasey

    Matt and I went to celebrate our first anniversary. Definitely the most memorable meal I have ever had in my life. By the end of it, Matt practically had to roll me back to our hotel.

    • Tracy

      For some reason I didn’t feel absolutely stuffed. I think I found another stomach somewhere in my body….hehee!

  • lynn @ the actor's diet

    french laundry is on my bucket list! i’d drive 7 hours from LA to eat there too!

  • Sam Hill

    We were there just two nights before you. How good were those macademias!

  • Julie @BananasforBourbon

    Heh. I admit when I first started reading I thought “she’s paid to eat there 3 times?!” But you’re so right. Everyone has their things they go all out for. I like that way of looking at it. I guess I should start saving… It was obviously an amazing experience. I am in awe! Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you. 😉

  • Jenna Meyer

    You are so hard core!!!
    FL the night before a cleanse–you can’t touch this!
    I have been getting ready for my cleanse for a week already (I don’t even start until next Tuesday). I stopped coffee and wine first– that was rough but not as rough as this week when I stopped all bread/grain and meat.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!
    (Can’t wait to read about it)

    • Tracy

      Oh wow!! I start on Thursday but am in the prep phase right now. I’ve been having sooo many food fantasies. It’s CRAZY.

  • Danielle

    That popcorn ice cream looks out of this world! Happy birthday to YOU!

  • Amanda Barkey

    this post makes me want to cry… looks A-MAZ-ING. im going to look at it again.

  • la domestique

    The French Laundry is going on my 30 things before 30 list. Oh yes it is!

  • Jen

    I loved your thank you list–it was like an acceptance speech at the dining out awards! And I would have totally ordered the Lobster Mitts. Yes, definitely.

  • Cyndi B

    Happy 31st Birthday!!! .. Never been to French Laundry, wanna go!! Been to Bouchon, yummy. Did you stop at the Bouchon Bakery for sweet treats on your ride home?

  • Kristine

    wow, how can I thank you enough for sharing that? It has LONG been my dream to go there just once in my lifetime, I’ve calculated how much to save/when to go/ all the terrible things that could happen to prevent me from going, etc. This was some vicarious fun, THANKS AGAIN!!

  • sherri lynn

    LOVE this post! After listening to every podcast you two do together, I can only imagine how fun this dinner was. All of the food looks amazing!

  • Ad Hoc, Yountville › shutterbean

    […] this week I showed you our pictures from The French Laundry and today I'm gonna give you a sneak peak of our Brunch at Ad Hoc (another EXCELLENT Thomas Keller […]

  • Amanda Celeste

    Happy Birthday! I love you and Joy’s friendship so much! I listen to your podcasts every week and I just think you two together are so entertaining and so much fun!
    Glad you had a great time celebrating!

  • 365- Week 31 › shutterbean

    […] The French Laundry. Nuff […]

  • Peach Tart With Pistachio Streusel & Mascarpone | Beyond [the Plate]

    […] Tracy recently spent a weekend in Napa to celebrate her birthday at The French Laundry. Outside of that mind-blowing, life-changing meal, she dined at a host of other establishments, Ad […]

  • Jessica Ann

    Wait… I think I may have put two and two together. Is Wilson Joy’s gentleman friend?
    So if they got married, would he be called Wilson Wilson? This makes me feel a bit like a confused Sherlock Holmes.

Leave a Comment