California Culinary

After a week-long family retreat – I planned a day-date with the hubs.  We headed to Beverly Hills for lunch at Bouchon.  Chef Thomas Keller is known for classic French menus – and most notable for the award winning, Michelin three-star restaurant The French Laundry  near Napa Valley – it’s on my to do list.

It was a great experience.  Because of culinary school I was able to navigate the menu – defining French words and terms, clarifying the unknown, and explaining certain preparations that were defined only to be understood by those seasoned in the culinary lingo.  I basically was the walking, talking and wine drinking version of google search for the lunch menu. – Thank you culinary school, I now live to impress my dining companions.

The food was to-die-for.  The plates were so carefully prepared and were incredibly attractive before we even took a bite.

First we were presented with warm bread – I was starving so this surprise was welcomed with open arms.

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We ordered two appetizers.  One menu item and one of the seasonal specials.  The Fromage Blanc (which translates to white cheese) was delicious.  It was a mix of soft white cheeses mixed with herbs on top of grilled walnut bread – I had died and gone to heaven. The seasonal special was a variety of melons, beautifully cut, served with a lemon compote.

Husband ordered from the menu – he got the Moules au Safran (Mussels served in a saffron sauce) with fries.

I ordered another special, I forget what it was called but it was a summery cheese-stuffed pasta served over corn and cherry tomatoes in a light buttery garlic sauce.  Amazing.  The sauce was so good that I went ahead and wiped up the remaining with the bread they brought to the table at the beginning of the meal.  All dressed up and I was devouring the meal, probably in a very un-ladylike way but I have no apologies, sometimes you just have to let go and jump in.

Then came dessert.  Husband got a lemon sayabon tart, I was curious because I like all things lemon and I’ve made sayabon in class but not as a tart.

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I was very excited when I saw on the menu an almost exact replica of something I’ve done several different times in school – part of it was on the last exam to be exact -chocolate mousse with crème anglaise. So ignoring the fact that I was stuffed,  I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT – to compare, it was totally school related – homework if you will, so I found space in my “dessert box.”  Have you ever heard of that?  For those of you who don’t know, even if you’re the fullest you’ve ever been, think Thanksgiving maxed out – buttons undone and breathing is hard…then comes the pie!  You all of a sudden have space for a slice – that’s your dessert box, no matter how much regular food you eat it guarantees space for chocolate, pie or any other yummy delicious sweet treat  that crosses your path.

So back to lunch – we got the chocolate mousse with crème anglaise – this was fate.  The comparison is below, mine on the left and lunch on the right.  I would say they were 90% equal in terms of flavor and consistency, I’m pretty proud, and look at those quenelles (the smooth football shape made with a spoon)!

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This day date was a success!  It was fun to wear a sundress, eat lunch outside in beautiful CA weather, and compare my French Culinary Schooling to the menus and execution of an award winning Chef – Chef Thomas Keller has been referred to as “one of the best” so it was exciting to see & taste that level of expertise.

I have to say it has made me more confident in my own execution – it’s hard to explain why, but I feel like my school has really laid the groundwork making my goals seem more in reach than I had expected.  I’m happy to have had this eye-opening experience.



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