Last August my most favoritest couple, Dave and Gina, invited me to the legendary French Laundry in Yountville, California. It was my birthday present and they figured I was someone who would really appreciate the food there. I had to wonder who wouldn't appreciate the food at the French Laundry. It was a profoundly pleasurable and relaxing weekend, but the afterglow lasted only until I had to hit Interstate 5 back home to LA. Traffic was that bad.
A couple of months later, I was approached by Asia! Magazine to contribute a story to an upcoming issue. I pitched a story about Corey Lee, the chef de cuisine of the French Laundry. The magazine gave me the greenlight to write the piece. That article was finally published and is available this month, April, although the issue is dated March 2007. Asia! Magazine does not yet have an internet edition available so the only way you can read it is if you pick up a copy (it's free!) at various locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other cities.
Here is a list of locations where Asia! Magazine is available:
Comics Mart outlets, Singapore (Serene Centre, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Orchard Cineleisure)
All Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Outlets, Singapore
Images of Singapore Bookshop on Sentosa Island
Singapore National Library branches
Gallery Hotel (S'pore), Pan Pacific Hotel (S'pore), The Ascott Apartments (S'pore), SPCA (S'pore), Hilton Hotel (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Shangri-La Hotel (Beijing), the Kerry Centre Hotel (Beijing), The Portman Ritz Carlton (Shanghai), The Pines (Shanghai), The American Club (Taiwan)
On board airlines SIA, SilkAir, Sri Lankan Airlines
Hey, Chubby, can you grab me a couple of copies while you're out?
The following are the first two paragraphs from the original piece that needed to be trimmed in order to fit my column space. So what you'll be reading is sort of a "director's cut" of my story. I apologize for the tease but I'm not allowed to publish anything more. But there are a lot of crazy delicious photos after the intro. Hope you enjoy it!
If you are lucky, it takes two months to the calendar day to secure a coveted table at the French Laundry. A married couple I know was just lucky enough to score a reservation for three and generously invited me to be the third wheel. Two months sped by and my engagement with what is widely regarded as the best restaurant in the United States had arrived and I was going to be late. The vehicular exodus from Los Angeles was almost apocalyptic, and it wasn’t even a holiday weekend. Everyone seemed to be leaving town and driving up north. I had a seven-hour commute to Napa Valley ahead of me and I already was behind schedule. At this rate, based on my frantic calculations, I would be about an hour late. My dining companions, David and Gina, treasured friends whom I’ve known for two decades, have been basking in California’s Wine Country bliss since the prior day. They are wiser than me. They flew. Now, the two lovebirds are probably sipping a spicy pinot noir (with a fleeting flutter of mushroom) born from a Russian River Valley vineyard while cozily lounging on the deck of a rustic yet chic bed and breakfast that overlooks picturesque vistas so inspiring it can make tourists weep. Meanwhile, somewhere on Interstate 5, I was guzzling a Red Bull, chasing it with Starbucks while adjusting my car seat in order to avoid lower back injury and inching along in weekend traffic so horrendous it can make a truck driver weep. Alas, I wasn’t even in Bakersfield yet.
By the time I crossed the Napa city limits I had all but eliminated my tardiness by shattering several speed laws and shaved off more time by eating my lunch as I steered the car with my knees. I still just might be on time for the best dinner experience of my life if I could only figure out exactly where this culinary Shangri-La is located. A quick call to my friends corrected my course and I’d at last make it to Yountville, California and to the French Laundry’s idyllic front steps with fifteen minutes to spare, not counting the time I needed to change from my cargo shorts and t-shirt into my genuine Italian pinstripe suit. Even though this is laid back California, the French Laundry does enforce a strict dress code. Perhaps this esteemed eatery takes clothing seriously because of its past life, once upon a time, as an actual French steam laundry, hence its name.
THE FRENCH LAUNDRY
6640 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599