I remember the first time I heard about The French Laundry (TFL), I was in culinary school and our teachers were telling us how it's the best French restaurant in the country and that their use of traditional techniques is to be admired. There were also rumors that if you managed to get your externship there that you would be cursed with the task to brunoise (1/8 inch perfect cubes, knife skill) a sack of black beans. I knew I would never work there, but I also knew that I had to eat there, but at a hefty average of $400.00 (on the low end) per person, I knew it would be a very long time before that happened.
Fast forward 10 years to our 5 year wedding anniversary, we decided to take the plunge and treat ourselves to a once in a lifetime experience.
The French Laundry takes reservations exactly 2 months to the day in advance at 10 am sharp. Getting a reservation is nearly impossible, everyone wants to eat there. It's a place to enjoy great food, great service, a beautiful ambiance, and to be seen. They have about 20 tables, so the reservations are gone in the blink of an eye! Matt called on December 21st, 167 times, until a sweet voice from heaven answered the phone and let him know that we would get the last table of the day! This was all done by 10:22 am, and I was beyond excited for the trip to Napa and for our dinner!
Fast forward 2 months, we arrived at our hotel on the 19th of february, and we had the best time ever. It was one of those epic vacations, the kind that changes you to the core, the kind that makes coming home a little sad.
Now to THE day, the 21st of February, 5 years ago on this day we were on a beach professing our love for each other in Hawaii. 4 years ago we went to vegas, and partied like rock stars. 3 years ago we went to a resort for a staycation. 2 years ago we were in Ohio and I recreated one of our favorite meals (Thanks, Chef Danny). Last year we went back to vegas, and then right to Hawaii. This year... Napa! Every year has been a wonderful time but I have to say, this one took the cake! We woke up, had breakfast and then got ready, we took our time, knowing that we wanted to do this whole day right! After getting dressed we headed over to the French Laundry early, to check out the garden.
Right across the street there is a square of land that is saved for the greenhouse and the garden, this is one of the things that separates TFL from so many others. They grow all of their greens, herbs and some vegetables right there. It's really cool, the garden and green house are huge and lush and thriving.
After walking around the garden, we started stalking strangers to take our picture, and we continued to do that until people got tired of us and moved on.
Then.... after walking around for about 5 minutes trying to figure out how to get inside, we found the entrance and walked in! The hostess was LOVELY! She greeted us by name as we walked in and said "Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Thompson" I'm such a sucker, I loved it! We walked back to our table, which was tucked into a corner in a little room off the main dining room, and I just new we had the best seats in the house!
The first thing that I noticed was the quality of the linen, then how superb the glassware was, it's all in the details. We hadn't even had a bite yet, and I already knew how amazing this experience was going to be.....
I don't want to give anything away but...... it was one of the most memorable, delicious and best meals/experience in my life.
The next post will be the food..... stay tuned!