This is a tale of the day I took a bite of butter like it was cheese. I blame Kyra.
And since I was going to be seeing some of the foodie-est people I know, I knew we had do do something incredible. No one-starred restaurant would do. Not when we could get reservations at one of the best restaurants in the world. And one we knew could handle the way we order food.
Going out to the French Laundry has been something of a dream of mine. It is on my list with Aviary here in Chicago. And about a year ago, I had the opportunity to do a little bit of correspondance with Lena, the chef behind the French Laundry’s incredible gluten-free flour blend, Cup4Cup (and no, I don’t get a discount because I love it so much, although that might be kind of nice…). And it was decided. The French Laundry was on my list.
So, I stalked OpenTable. Reservations open up exactly three months in advance, and I had one day and only one day durring my trip that I could make this work.
I made the drive from San Francisco to Yountville with Brandy Wendler, the gluten-free beauty who is currently Mrs. Northwest 2013, Kyra Bussanich, 2-time cupcake wars winner & owner of one of the best bakeries in the country, Charissa who owns the award winning Zest Bakery in San Carlos with her husband, Patrick and Andrew from Taste Guru. We met up with Alison from A Girl Defloured outside the restaurant.
You can’t get a bunch of food bloggers (or girls for that matter) together without a need to document every moment.
So document, we did. From the first glass of wine until our phone batteries died, we were happily snapping away.
With our party shoes on (well, mine were on once I got them back from Kyra), we descended on one of the culinary industry’s most famed locales. And, with a whole host of food allergies and intolerances, we challenged the kitchen to feed us.
Feed us they did.
I might have even eaten a piece of beet and not wanted to spit it out for the first time in my life. So, Chef Keller, your team must be magic, because that has never happened before.
And it wasn’t just some special sauce on the beets.
You could see the skill in the artfully presented dishes. Flavors danced. Each course was perfectly portioned, just a few bites each. Enough to fully experience the dish but not so much that you would be weary.
My favorite had to be the cauliflower. It was crunchy. Robust. Not at all what I expected. The courses were all like that. Surprises of flavor.
At some point, they must have figured out who Kyra was. Or they thought if they fed us more we might stop giggling.
They were wrong about that. But the surprise courses might have been some of the best. Mango sorbet and champagne granité. A root beer float that was unexpected. Spicy. Bright.
They couldn’t make us the desserts on the menus for us gluten free, so they asked us if we preferred chocolate or fruit.
Really? You have a doubt in your mind what 5 out of the 6 of us chose?
My phone was all out of juice by then, so you will have to take my word for it being divine. And then they served us chocolates. I might have had a peanut butter & jelly one.
At this point, Brandy & I had to run because we were talking to bloggers that evening back in San Francisco, and we were 5 hours into lunch. Our greedy friends didn’t save us any of the doughnuts that they made for us. Something about fried doughs not keeping well.
I tossed my wallet to Kyra and after some disproving glances from the hostess who looked like she thought we were running out on the bill, our experience of one incredible display of food artistry came to an end.
Except it didn’t.
That meal has been following me all week. Those vegetables have consumed my thoughts.
And the brioche.
Oh. the brioche.
They were clouds of yeasty goodness that punctuated an incredible meal. And frankly, I needed more.
- 7 grams (2 teaspoons) instant (bread machine) yeast
- 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- 230 grams (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 3/4 teaspoons) warm water, at 75°F/23.8°C
- 535 grams (3 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon) Cup4Cup gluten-free all purpose flour (see notes)
- 20 grams (2 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 158 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) eggs – this is about 3 eggs
- 22 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) egg yolks (about 1 yolk)
- 80 grams (1/4 cup) honey
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces – 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg for the egg wash
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) Maldon salt for sprinkling
- Combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stir in the warm water, and set in a warm place for 10 minutes. The mixture will be foaming and bubbly.
- Once the yeast has proofed, combine the Cup4Cup and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, honey, butter, and proofed yeast mixture.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour in a steady stream with the mixer running on low. Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 10 minutes. It will be very silky, almost like a cake batter.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place for an hour, the dough should about double in size.
- Using a rubber spatula, deflate the dough, turning it over a few times in the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, recover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Make an egg wash by beating an egg lightly.
- Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. Divide the dough evenly among the wells of the pans. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the maldon (or sea) salt. Set the pan somewhere warm for 40 minutes. You want the dough to raise and spread – but it will not double, so don’t let it sit for longer waiting for that.
- When you have about 10 minutes left of raising time, heat up your oven to 350°F. Bake your rolls for 15-17 minutes. You want the tops to be golden and a toothpick to come out clean when it is inserted into the middle.
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with the best butter you can get your hands on.