Although Hong Kong is a shopping paradise, there are still a lot of brands you can’t find there – Carven would be a good example. I did not know anything about the brand until I found this gorgeous Carven draped skirt at Barneys in downtown San Francisco today. I immediately fell in love with it when I was trying it on as it did a fantastic job in accentuating my curves.
I wanted to know more about the brand so I did some research online. The french fashion house was founded in 1945 by Madam Carven as a haute couture house. As couture took a back seat to ready-to-wear, Creative Director Guillaume Henry spotted the brand’s need to move from couture to ready-to-wear and has spent the last year transitioning the house back into the spotlight. The brand has been gaining popularity since Henry’s debut collection for the house in Spring 2010. I sure hope the brand will come to Hong Kong soon.
It was the fourth of July and we were debating whether to catch the fireworks or have a late dinner at the French Laundry, an up-scale French restaurant located in Yountville, near Napa Valley, CA. Everyone voted for the French Laundry as it usually takes months to get a table there. There are only a handful of tables at the restaurant. It was named the best restaurant in the Americas in 2008 and is amongst the top 100 restaurants in the world. The dinner was quite an experience – the longest and most expensive meal I have ever had. It was definitely worth it.
There are quite a number of up-scale restaurants in Hong Kong, but none that I know of would require their guests to put on a jacket. At French Laundry, jackets are required for all gentlemen seated in the dining room. A tie, however, is optional. They follow a very formal dining etiquette. The staff were extremely well trained. They were meticulous, efficient, well organized and knowledgeable. Spacing in between courses was well orchestrated. It was like a perfectly executed synchronized production.
At the French Laundry, you will find two 9-course menus which change everyday – the Chef’s Tasting Menu and the Tasting of Vegetables (vegetable focused, but not vegetarian) – both offered at USD 270 per person. A few of the courses offered a choice between two items where additional charges may apply to some of the dishes.
After we selected our courses on the menu, our servers brought over two amuses to kick start our palates.
Gruyere filled Mini-Brioches
Warm puffs that simply melt in your mouth. A great way to wake your palate.
Signature Salmon Cornets
This is their second off-menu starter, cornets filled with salmon tartare, local chives ad creme fraiche.
And then the courses began arriving… __________
# 1 – “Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
I would not have had the oysters or the caviar if this was not Chef Keller’s most renowned dish. The oysters were very fresh and the salty caviar provided a perfect foil to the tapioca’s subtle creaminess. It was served with a mother-of-pearl spoon.
Royal Ossetra Caviar
Bayonne Ham, Smoked Strugeon “Panna Cotta” Scallions and Brioche Croutons
Signature bread from Bouchon Bakery down the street. The breads were served with two kinds of butter.
Local Unsalted Butter from Petaluma
Salted butter from Vermont
# 2 – Chilled Nantes Carrot Soup
Young Coconut, Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Cilantro and Madras Curry
Their vegetables are sourced from the garden directly in front of the restaurant. A very refreshing dish following the Oysters and Pearls, helped cleanse the sea water flavor in my mouth and get me ready for the next dish.
Moulard Duck “Foie Gras en Terrine”, Green Almonds, Sorrel and Rose Hip “Aigre-Doux”
# 3 – Grilled Fillet of Gulf Coast Cobia
Brentwood Corn, Summer Pole Beans, Sweet Garlic “Nuage” and Pimenton Emulsion
The fish has a steak like texture. The flavor of the sauce was just right as it did not take away the flavor of the fish.
Sashimi of Atlantic Fluke
Green Tea, Hass Avocado Sorbet, Finger Limes, Pili Nut, Red Raddish and Cucumber Blossoms
# 4 – Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Tail
Ruby Red Grapefruit, Fennel, Nicoise Olive Puree and “Sauce Noilly Prat”
The lobster was incredibly sweet and flavorful. It was expertly poached and removed at the point where it turned from raw to cooked so it had this unique bursting juiciness to it and just the right tenderness.
Four Story Hill Farm “Cuisse De Poularde“
Liver Mousse, Cepe Mushroom, Pearl Onions, Baby Beets and “Sauce Raifort”
# 5 – Salmon Creek Farm Pork Belly
Chanterrelle Mushrooms “a la Greque”, Cherry Tomatoes, Pickled Ramps, Petite Lettuces and Amando Manni Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pork belly may sound like a very heavy dish. However, the complementary vegetables provided just the right balance, giving it flavor without the richness.
# 6 – Marcho Farm Nature-fed Veal
“Gnocchi”, Fried Quail Egg, Broccolini and Spanish Caper Jus
The thick cut of the veal added to the meat’s juiciness. The quail egg provided a surprisingly good complement to the dish.
#7 – “Mimolette”
Royal Blenheim Apricot Jam, Celery, Piedmont Hazelnuts, Anise Hyssop and Black Truffle Coulis
The sweetness of the apricot jam was a great complement to the saltiness of the cheese. This was my favorite dish of the evening.
# 8 – Buttermilk Sherbet
Bing Cherries and Speculaas “Sable”
# 9 – Caramelia Chocolate – “Cremeux”
Gros Michel Banana, Georgia Peanuts, “Dentelle” and Salted Popcorn Ice Cream
After tasting so many dishes, I don’t really remember the flavor of each and every dish. However, the popcorn ice cream left quite an impression. I can almost taste it in my mouth. Never thought the combination of popcorn and ice cream could be so satisfying.
Lemongrass, Meiwa Kumquat, Black Sesame and Ginger “Anglaise”
Mignardises Expresso Ice cream
Dusted Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
I am not a very adventurous person when it comes to food, however, I had to make an exception that evening. I finished every single item that was brought to me on the Chef’s Tasting Menu. Yes, including oysters, caviar, quail egg etc. We completed the meal in about approximately 3 hours. It was already midnight by the time we finished as we did not start till 9pm. I really wished we were able to start the dinner earlier so I could have more time to admire each and every pieces of artwork that was presented to us.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599(707) 944-2380
Peter Pan collar is having a fashion moment this season. The look gives a cute, sexy and sophisticated vintage look but at the same time we have to be a bit careful with this trend as we don’t want to look like your favorite Disney character. I actually tried on one today and it just didn’t look right. I thought I was a milkmaid! Below are a couple of collar dresses that I think are pretty cute and affordable: