French Cuisine in Napa Valley: The French Laundry

Like any foodie and fan of Chef Thomas Keller, The French Laundry has been at the top of my list of Michelin star restaurants. After fully paying off one of my student loans, I decided to take the plunge and treat myself by joining my “Foodie” BFF and a group fellow foodies in SF for Chef’s Tasting Menu at The French Laundry in Yountville in Napa Valley, CA.

Our meal began with a complimentary glass of champagne and the best cheese and crackers that I’ve ever had. The fun shape of the crackers and the “cheesiness” in the center reminded me how much I loved having this snack in my childhood whenever I came home from school.

Oysters and Pearls. This beautiful dish comprised of “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. Delicate and flavorful, I could feel the subtle, refreshing taste of the sea from the oysters and then the luxurious creaminess of the sauce.

David Little’s Dry Farmed Sunchokes. The fun, whimsical presentation consisted of Chantenay carrots, caramelized sunchoke puree, crispy barley, pea tendrils and Sunchoke “Ravigote.” I really liked the two different approaches of preparing the sunchokes – one as caramelized and the other as a puree. Light, flavorful, and inspiring. Now I know how I can attempt other ways to prepare sunchokes at home!

Slow-Cooked Filet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout. An unexpected fish course of charred eggplant “béchamel,” marinated cherry tomatoes, nicoise olives and opal basil. The filet looked the same to me. However, a bite of the filet with the eggplant, tomatoes, olives and basil were delightful. Bechamel is typically heavy but made of eggplant, it was light and delicate.

Big Island Abalone “Fricassee.” Musquee de Provence Pumpkin Porridge, CA Chanterelle Mushrooms, and “Creme de Champignons.” All of my favorite fall, comfort foods in one. The pumpkin porridge with the cream of mushrooms was earthy, rich, creamy and delectable.

Salmon Creek Farm Kurobuta Pork. A surprising pork course of caramelized turnip top “pierogi,” savory cabbage, glazed garden turnips, and “Sauce Raifort.” Pork, cabbage and turnips tend to be boring and bland – each alone. But well-cooked with a nice sauce, exquisite! I savored every bite of the pork and was impressed by the flavor of the turnips due to the caramelization. The tasty cabbage helped cut through the fat from the pork.

Herb-Roasted Elysian Fields of Farm Lamb. An amazing lamb course with La Ratte Puree, Garden Romano beans, preserved cornito peppers, arrowleaf spinach, and Spanish Caper-Brown Butter Jus. Lamb tends to have a “gamey” aftertaste, which I’m not a fan of. However, the puree, peppers and jus made the meat of the lamb rich, savory and flavorful.

Assortment of Desserts. An incredible variety of desserts that excited my sweet tooth. Three of the many stood out for me. The first one that impressed me was the peach. I love the bright colors and the sweetness that fruit typically has with each bite. I loved the freshness from the peach and was impressed that it wasn’t as sweet as I thought since there was syrup on over it.

I love chocolate and hazelnut, especially together. This lovely, multi-layered cake reminded me of a Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, except without the heavy frosting that tends to overpower the cake itself. The ratio of cake and frosting was perfect, and I could taste all of the flavors.

It’s not a Chef Keller restaurant without the popularly known macarons. Two seasonal, peach macarons that brought me back to the first dessert course – the peach! I was glad that I received two because I popped the first one in my mouth so quickly as I love Chef’s macarons. In the second time, I was able to really taste the light, sweet flavor of the peach.

The Chef’s Tasting Menu at The French Laundry was an unforgettable, incredibly amazing meal. If this is on your “Foodie” Bucket List, please go and check it off your list as soon as you can.

For more information about the menus (as they change daily), reservations, and The French Laundry, you can visit their website at

Happy Eating!

All images and content © 2017 Carol Vu, unless otherwise indicated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s