After the first two parts of my French Laundry excursion, I've arrived at the final installment: the cheese & dessert. I must say, although I was ridiculously full at this point, I somehow managed to make room - which actually came as no surprise. The night we were there, Thomas Keller was actually at a big Food & Wine event in Aspen. However the man pictured, Corey Lee, the chef de cuisine, really took care of us. The entire evening was a fantastic (if not overly hot and stuffy - it was 109F outside when we started our meal!) experience. To see how the number one restaurant in America does dessert read more
After the proteins were finished, we headed straight to the cheese course. We all had the chef's tasting menu, so we were all presented with "Brescianella Aquavite" French Laundry Garden Beets, Bing Cherry Purée, Toasted Pecans and Watercress Leaves. Now I'm a huge stinky, gooey cheese fan, but I met my match that evening. Partially because I was full, but mostly because of the heat - with it being over 100F outside, earthy, pungent cheese was the last thing I wanted in my mouth.
After they whisked the cheese away (which I know is really sad, I still don't understand how I of all people could let cheese go), we were presented with a beautiful "Glace de Fruits Exotiques" Pineapple "Granité," Lilikoi and Coconut Sauce. This dish was nice and light and my warm palate definitely appreciated the bit of cooling down.
With our palates cleared, it was time for dessert. Jimmy opted for the "Composition de Chocolat Italien" Amedei Gianduja Chocolate "Creme Patissiere," Toscano Nut Brownie and "Nougat Glacé" while I ordered the "Summer Pudding" with French Laundry Garden Lemon Verbena Ice Cream and Summer Berry "Compote." Here's where I'm not sure what happened. I only had one bite of Jimmy's, it was delicious, but not mind-blowing - whereas mine could have been mind-blowing, but instead it was just awkward. I really wish I had also managed to get the size of the spoon it was served with into the picture. In my opinion, it was way too large for the mouth of the glass. When I tried to get a spoonful of all the layers (which when possible, was the best way to eat it), it was nearly impossible. I ended up with mouthfuls of lemon verbena ice cream foam and later, mouthfuls of mushy compote. It was oddly tragic as all the flavors were amazing. Definitely a fault in the plating (or was it simply just the spoon?) and not the dessert itself.
Once our slightly tragic desserts were devoured (I guess they weren't that tragic afterall) we moved on to the mignardises (sweet treats!). First up was either a creme brulée or fruit trifle. Jimmy received the trifle and me the brulée. Upon tasting each other's dishes, we promptly swapped plates. The trifle was a delight, and although I practically had fine dining coming out of my ears, I could have easily eaten another.
Next we were presented with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and then, a few minutes later, an empty silver plate. At first we were a little perplexed - the wine and food slowing down our thought processes - and then we realized it was for the truffles. That's right it was now time to choose from an assortment of truffles: peanut butter, coffee, strawberry & pepper, caramel, hazelnut. Then, nearly four hours after we began, we were given the check, some shortbread wrapped in ribbon and kindly asked if we would like to "retire to the outside courtyard" where it was cooler. We kindly accepted the suggestion only to realize 10 minutes later that it was by far the nicest way we'd ever been kicked out of a restaurant!