When I was diagnosed with celiac, my body was so run down that I was also diagnosed with sensitivities to dairy, sugar cane, garlic, blueberries, and eggs. Learning I would have to live without all of these foods for a year, on top of eliminating gluten permanently, left me at a loss. I called my mom, sobbing, and asked her in desperation, “What am I going to eat?” I wanted to be grateful that I finally had a way to feel better, but at 93 pounds I was so hungry.
At that point, learning to cook food that was healthy for me felt like a challenge, but eating out seemed all but impossible. What a journey that past six years have been! Two weeks ago my partner, Ben, and I got engaged. (Yay!) He said he wanted to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with another once-in-a-lifetime experience, and revealed that he had reservations for a celebratory dinner at The French Laundry. The French Laundry is a 3-star Michelin restaurant that was named “Best Restaurant in the World” twice (2003 & 2004.) It’s a seven-course meal, plus amuse-bouche and chocolates.
Here I was, celebrating a meaningful and wonderful life moment in a way I would never have imagined just a few years ago. It seemed like the French Laundry designed a menu just for me. For example, the amuse-bouche that evening was a salmon tartar served with a Gruyere pastry puff. Instead of the pastry, I was served a potato and black truffle dumpling. It was rich and delicate at the same time, and a perfect accompaniment to the salmon. Course after course they brought out beautiful, delicious food. Sometimes the dish was a complete departure from the written menu, such as the beef I was served in lieu of squab.
I could try to describe each dish, (the fish I ate that night was the best thing I’ve ever tasted) but words will inevitably fail me. What I want to convey most of all is that a world-renowned chef, who loves and understands food to an incredible degree, fed me an unforgettable seven-course meal. There wasn’t a single bite where the alteration to my dish tasted like a sacrifice had been made. On top of that, Chef Thomas Keller had the confidence to design and prepare a menu of food I can eat, knowing that it would be up to his standard of perfection. I want to thank Ben, who knew how much it would mean to me to share this experience. And I want to thank The French Laundry for providing such a memorable celebration of our engagement.
I don’t have recipes to share in this post, but I can recommend the Topaz Late Harvest that was served with one of our dessert courses. It is available in 375 ml bottles (half-bottles), which is perfect for a dessert wine because a small glass is enough.
I promise more recipes to come in the week ahead. If you have a request for how I approach one of your favorite meals, let me know in the comments and I would be happy to blog about it!