A trip to Napa Valley and The French Laundry…

Welcome to The French Laundry.

On Sunday, May 15th, I celebrated my birthday at The French Laundry.  I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and finally, thanks to friend and client, Ruth Stroup, the stars aligned so that it was possible.

Everything was perfect, the weather was lovely.   All the roses are in bloom everywhere and the grape vines all have foliage, so everything is super green everywhere.  It’s before the season starts in wine country so it wasn’t too crowded. Just a spectacular day to be in the wine country of  Napa Valley.

The restaurant’s exterior is understated and elegant.  The grounds are beautiful and the kitchen is  unlike any other restaurant kitchen I’ve seen.  So many people working quietly and efficiently to put out spectacular dishes.

The interior garden of the The French Laundry.

The kitchen is actually a separate building from the restaurant.

The interior is also elegant and understated, and the first thing that you notice is how quiet it is…all the tables are full, people are eating, but there’s no loud conversation or clanking of glassware and utensils – for a busy restaurant it’s amazingly quiet.

As there were 10 in our party, we had the private dining room.  A large round table with a beautiful flower arrangement, lovely place settings, gorgeous menus, and the world famous folded napkins with The French Laundry clothes pin.

Our luncheon table.

Service is out of this world, there is someone quietly refilling your glass or refolding your napkin without your realizing that they are there.  All plates are served at the same time, so it’s like a ballet throughout the entire meal.  Each dish is explained in detail after it is set down for you to admire.  Wine is paired with each dish.

There were 9 courses and several “extra” surprises…

"Beets and Leeks", Maine Lobster Tail "Pochee au Beurre Doux", French Laundry Garden Leeks, Baby Red Beets and "Mousseline Raifort" (This was my favorite.)

Milk-Poached Four Story Hill Farm "Poularde" Hobbs' Bacon, Morel Mushrooms, English Peas and Tokyo Turnips

Andante Dairy "Nocturnes" Black Truffle Tart, Royal Blenheim Apricot, Fennel and Piedmont Hazelnuts








Because several of us were celebrating May birthdays, we were served two desserts…

Chocolate and peanut butter whip with truffles.

Mousse Au Chocolat Blanc, Morello Cherries and Marcona Almonds

We were there for 5 hours, taking a several breaks by stepping outside on the balcony to view the beautiful gardens.

Our parting “gift” was a beautiful bag with cookies, chocolates and our menus.

I highly recommend that if there is anyway you can, it’s worth experiencing this kind of dining at least once…

My thanks to Ruth and Yasuo for making this day possible for me!  And to my dear friend Peggy for sharing the day and doing the driving.

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