Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sadness and Lung Cancer

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Monday, June 26, 2006

The French Laundry

Okay, I'm finally responding to one of my first not-from-friends (although those are completely lovely too) requests! Sorry about the delay, but I had some serious scanner issues to work out. So now that they are (sorta) conquered - above is the copy of the tasting menu from French Laundry!

First of all, the details at the Laundry are astounding. For example - the lighting fixtures have three little laundry-label symbols on them: machine wash, no tumble dry and iron if necessary. Very cool. [Hubby comment: other French Laundry pluses are lots of knowledgeable servers, a great sommelier, and presentations like performance art.] Now for the food!

First up, the panna cotta. The custardy cheesy goodness was very nice, but the caviar was the star. Fresh and succulent it just about melted on the tounge. I had a nice sparkling wine - actually a true champagne. Possibly the best bubbly I ever had. Next up... FOIE! Yes, the lovely product of force-fed duck smeared over nice brioche. And when each plate of brioche had sat on the table for 3 or more minutes, waiters came by with fresh hot bready goodness. I joked that the waitstaff must have a timer, and the server said, "Well, mostly, yeah." Totally deadpan.

Oh well, I have no future as a comedian.

Next I had 'boudin'. The sausage like thing, not the Foreign Legion thing. But mine was made of Walleye Pike. I would not have been able to tell you where, exactly the summer truffles were, but I could definitely taste them in there somewhere. And let me tell you, if all bacon was like that I would eat it every freaking day. To hell with cholesterol I would die happy.

Okay, and the Caesar salad? Didn't look like any freaking Ceasar I ever saw... but that's okay 'cause the lobster was smooth and succulent.

(Side note, John Stewart just said 'testicu-lar-dar' while talking to Lance Armstrong - no joke!)

Next was the only dish I didn't much care for (besides the sweet ones. Those who know me know that I don't much like desert. Now I know that possibly one of the best chefs of the world can't make me truly crave sweet stuff. I must be defective. But we already knew that!) which was this little ball of rabbit meat on a bone. Now I liked the bone - marrow yummy - but the little ball of meat was just a little dry and not quite... there. [Hubby liked the spice combination on Thumper quite a bit, though.]

The ribeye of lamb was great. Yummy yummy. Not a dish that pushed any culinary envelopes, but it was a superb example of classic French lamby goodness. I even like the mint tapenade, which never happened before. [Hubby sez: sure, hindsight is that the $150 extra for two servings of Wagyu (Kobe) beef seems desirable now.]

And that was the end of the realy good stuff for me. There was one more course and then sweet stuff. And I just don't like sweet food. But we had a scary good meal for a scarily huge amount of money.

But for my taste, in ten years when I can afford to to that again, I think I'm going back to Cyrus. Cyrus just pushes the food harder, tries for more and has more fun. But I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't had the chance to eat at both.

And if I could go for $200 a plate including wine I would do it again next year. Just not for $200 a head plus wine. Yikes!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I got a request!

And I promise to respond. Just not this entry - I promise to describe my French Laundry experience in sickening detail... but after I've scanned my copy of the menu into my Mac. 'Cause they give you a copy of the day's tasting menu when you leave after your meal.

So cool.

But now I have to tell you about my new obsession - Hex. Yes, it's on BBC America, and yes that makes it more likely that it will suck, but trust me, it doesn't! The show is about a witch, who doesn't know she's a witch and an ancient curse. It's all good, baby! And I get to watch the commercials for Footballer's Wives, which I think are probably better than the actual show.

Aw yeah.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Vacation n stuff

Wow. We're having a foodie vacation to end all foodie vacations.


I'm not as cool as Karla, so I don't have pictures of my food, but DAMN we've been eating well. The hubbie and I are in Sonoma, CA - one of the epicenters of good vino. And we're less than a hop, skip and/or jump away from THE epicenter of the American wine industry - Napa. Now, folks 'round here (i.e. Sonoma) say that Sonoma is for wine and Napa is for auto parts. I disagree... but Sonoma wines really really don't suck. And the wine tours / wine tastings don't suck either.

So here's a list of our favorite tours:

-Hess Collection

Okay. So I cheated. The Benziger winery is the only one I listed that's an actual winery tour - ya know, the vines, the land, the caves, etc. Hess is just a really kick ass modern art museum in the guise of a winery. Yeah - the wine's good, but really the flaming typewriter is the true draw.

And here's our list of favorite things to taste:

-Benziger (yeah - they're that good)

Okay, okay. The Sinskey experience this week wasn't all that it could be. (They're not in the Army this week - har har!) But based on prior tastings and bottles - damn, that's good wine! And even if this week's tasting wasn't perfect, the staff presented with wines with knowledge and humor. That definitely counts for something. For example - hubbie and I had great wine at Etude - I mean really really good. But for the first half of the tasting, the staff member leading the session seemed as enthusiastic as a stick in the mud. He warmed up... eventually. Or maybe we got drunker and cared less. Who knows, and who cares. He didn't really help his wine sell. The wine had to take up his slack. So that's why Etude, although outstanding, didn't make the list. But Benziger. Hmmmm... Benziger. Benziger just blew me out of the water with the goodness and the sustainable agricultural practices and the friendly people and the quality and the lusciously fabulous GOODNESS of the wine. (Did I mention the goodness?)

So yeah, we're now a member of their wine club. Go figure.

Now, before I get to Bell, Acacia deserves a honorable mention. There is a man there named Mike. And he is funny. No - really really funny. He works at the tasting desk and does other odd jobs part time. I know he has a wife and a dog and that he thinks the entire world revolves around his needs and wants. Fortunately for us, he needs and wants to be entertaining... and he is. So if you're in the area, hit Carneros and see Mike. If' he's not there, Acacia probably doesn't deserve an extra trip. But if he is, oh boy, life is good.

On to Bell. Bell winery is small - like only nine permanent staff members small. But they have these wines... and they are good. The staff is good too. We managed to score a tasting during the bottling and the director of hospitality and marketing was quite happy to show us around. How cool is that? Her winery had a major thing-a-ma-joober going on and she took the time to shuttle our ignorant butts around. But oh - the wine - it was so good. I'm currently sipping on the 2002 Sonnette... ya'll you WISH you were my taste buds right now.

Oh yeah, you SO do.

San Fran is up next, and hubbie and I have been fortunate enough to score reservations at the French Laundry. Exciting! A restaurant that literally EVERYONE raves about. I can't wait. Last night we ate at Cyrus - another restaurant with a killer rep. I had seared foie gras with rosti and a carmelized onion like thing. SO GOOD. The previous course was Japanese Pen Shell with sweetcorn and pickled ramp greens. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? But then, there's this article on the Pen Shell that makes it sound like a tolerable bivalve. But only tolerable, right?

You'd be wrong. So very, VERY wrong. 'Cause it was so good. Yum. Ramps! Chewy but not tough goodness! Sweet corn! Yay!

So the foodie vacation continues. I can't wait. French Laundry, here I come!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The bad day before the good day

So the bad day was today. As you might expect from the title 'cause I know ya'll are just such smart readers! I did most of my damn credentialing paperwork for my upcoming job. I measured the stack of paperwork - the stack was 4.5 inches fucking tall. I am SO not kidding. And when I went to turn it in - I found out that I hadn't needed to do half of it. The assistant would have been happy to do most of it for me! Yargh!

I was stressing so hard about getting all that shit done today I gave myself one of the worst headaches I've had this year.

BUT! All is not lost. 'Cause gtuess what...

Vacation starts Friday! Yeah, it's with my mother. But still! California here we come! We'll be gone for nine days, so I might be incommunicado. I may bring the spiffy new toy, but it weighs a ton and has (honestly) crap for battery life. So I may not. We'll see.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I grad-u-muated!

Wow. Holy crap, I'm an adult. When the fuck did that happen? Most of my friends are adults too... and I have photographic proof.


We all growed up and stuff. Graduation was a blast, even with the inevitable and lamentable speeches. But they didn't go on too long, and the skits and SNL-style news jokes were a hit. The food was the same as it always is - some sorta nut-crusted chicken thing with what tries to be pesto rice but is actually just green and bland with overcooked veggies.

So now I've gotta get on with being adult... scary. And to really nail down my status as a 'mature individual' my husband is, as we speak, applying for a promotion. Holy crap! I hope he gets it. It would be really nice to have everyone else acknowledge that he's a FREAKING GENIUS.

'Cause he is, really. He's way smarter than I am. And no one gives him the credit he deserves. Which sucks. So promotion good.