There are restaurants that star in my recurring gastronomic fantasies. Among them is Thomas Keller's The French Laundry.
This month marks the 15th anniversary of Chef Keller's Napa Valley culinary vision and the 10th anniversary of The French Laundry Cookbook, a compendium that tells the stories behind the menus created at his Yountville restaurant.
The wit and the whimsy behind these beautifully focused small plates bring food enthusiasts out for tasting menus which never replicate a food or flavor at a cost of $240 per person.
Beginning with a signature amuse-bouche of Salmon Tartare Cornets with Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche and ending with mignardises, the menu is famous for its Oysters and Pearls, Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar - among others. There are websites dedicated to cooking their way through this gorgeously photographed tome.
Each night's variation just a bit different from the last, Chef de cuisine Corey Lee collaborates with staff and purveyors to produce nightly menus from what is fresh, local and seasonal. The result is magical.
The one word that is a recurring theme in Keller's restaurants: finesse. And if rumors are true, NYers will be treated to a new Keller restaurant this fall.