Four years ago today, I wrote about my meal at the French Laundry. Can it have been that long ago? I still can taste the "Oysters and Pearls." I can still smell the flowers in the garden. I can still recall the first taste of foie gras on my tongue as years of vegetarianism evaporated in one bite, never to return again.
There have been other meals, even other amazing meals, but there's never been a meal like that one at the French Laundry. I doubt there ever will be again. I no longer even consider it in my "top ten meals" because it can't compare to anything I eat now. That's not to say what I eat now isn't as good, but rather that the French Laundry meal was a point in time long ago, and I was a different eater then. I had never spent so much on food before (nor had I ever saved up for a meal before). I'd never eaten foie gras before. I'd never ordered Champagne without knowing its price — though I'll admit to a serious heart palpitation in the garden after we order our Champagne and I realized I had no idea how much it would cost.
The meal at the French Laundry was a turning point for me, a sea change in my culinary life. I started eating meat and dairy again, and I rediscovered my passion for cooking and for food. You could say the meal at the French Laundry has led me right to where I find myself today: passionate about food and spending as much time as I can learning and writing about it on this site. So thank you Michael Ruhlman for introducing me to Thomas Keller with The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection and thank you Chef Keller for sharing your perfection with me for one night.