Sunday, July 30, 2006


So, tonight we had some friends over for a French Laundry-themed dinner party. The thing was that you had to make a recipe from the French Laundry cookbook, and bring it with you. The dinner consisted of:

  • "Cornets" - Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche: Eric & Christy made these, one of the French Laundry's signature items. This was all about contrast. The soft, delicate tartare against the cripsy cone it's served in, or the chunky meat of the salmon contrasted with the smooth richness of the creme fraiche. Delicious little bites.
  • Gazpacho, served in hollowed out tomatoes: Steve made a fantastic, slightly spicy, rich gazpacho, which he served in hollowed-out tomatoes. A really nice touch, which lent a perfect fresh balance to the delicious soup. Easily the best gazpacho I've ever had.
  • Gruyere Cheese Gougeres: Ei-Nyung made these, which were basically a savory pat a choux, made with Gruyere. Holy smokes, these were good - fresh out of the oven, they were beautifully light, crisp on the outside, salty and nutty from the cheese, and warm, soft, airy on the inside. I probably ate eight of these over the course of the night, and would have been happy to have eaten eighty more.
  • Salad of Haricots Verts, Tomato Tartare, and Chive Oil: Ei-Nyung's second dish, this was a complex piece of work, with many time-consuming steps. But oh, goodness, it was worth it. The tomato tartare was the epitome of "TOMATO!" flavor, but not overbearing or overpowering in any way, when combined with the beans, frisee, or chive oil that accompanied it. The beans were coated in a flavored cream, and though this seemed odd when I first saw it, after adjusting to the idea, the flavor and texture were incredible. Delicious and beautiful, I'd eat it again and again.
  • "Fish and Chips" - Red Mullet with a Palette d'Ail Doux and Garlic Chips: This was my dish, and unfortunately, the Red Mullet was replaced by Black Cod. I'm sure this is a really awkward substitution, but we didn't really know what else to do. Unfortunately, the cod's skin was removed, which was another knock against the dish, which is supposed to have beautifully crisped skin. Alas! Still, this was essentially a stack of a parsley coulis, the Palette d'Ail Doux (a egg yolk & garlic paste, formed into discs, frozen, then breaded and fried - remarkably subtle and airy), two pieces of fish, a parsley salad, and some deep-fried garlic chips. More on the preparation later, but though the fish was not what was intended, the various flavors seemed to work together well, and the texture of the firm fish worked well with the light, airy garlic puck.
  • Whipped Brie de Meaux en Feuillete with Tellicherry Pepper and Baby Mache: Joe's contribution, a whipped brie, served with croutons, and Baby Mache, with some really beautiful old balsamic that he's kept stashed away in his little safe (at least, I imagine this is how he stores it). Instead of Tellicherry pepper, it's standard pepper, but still, the brie, balsamic, crouton, and mache combo was spectacular.
  • Lemon Sabayon - Pine Nut Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone Cream: Sean & Hoa brought these tarts, which were absolutely perfect. I can't really imagine any way to have made them better. The acidity of the lemon is cut by the richness of the mascarpone, and the pine nuts in the crust lend a subtle but distinct flavor that I never really would have expected. These things were worthy of being photographed for a cookbook. Stunning.
  • Strawberry and Champagne Terrine: Holly's terrine had an incredible strawberry punch, apparently from drying the strawberries overnight. The bold stawberry flavor was balanced by some mint, and the delicate flavor of the champagne jelly. Delicious, light, and a perfect way to end a meal.

More to come, including pictures, and some discussion of our part of the preparation process. Appoximately six hours of cooking for three dishes.


Blogger ei-nyung said...

What we should improve on for next time:

- Warn everyone (including ourselves) that things will take much longer than you think.

- Have all the prep happen in the kitchen rather than at the table. While it was a nice family-environment, I think we lost some of the "wow factor" because people could see the dishes before they were complete.

- White linens! :D

- Print up menus.

- Remember to take pics of each course.

2:38 PM  
Blogger ei-nyung said...

That said, it was a great time and I enjoyed each dish immensely! Good job everyone!

2:38 PM  
Blogger h said...

Agreed on all points! It was a fantastic dinner, and those improvements you listed would have made it even better.

I'll only add one of my own: convince my stomach to not reject un-baked eggs so I can more fully enjoy Seppo's and Sean & Hoa's dishes. While we're at it, not being gun-shy of dairy would have been nice too. :)

7:33 AM  

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