Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Radish and the French Laundry

As an aspiring cook book writer... I am STILL in search of the best thing to do with radishes that does not make them a garnish (maybe they always will be...) But at the French Laundry - that mecca of food rooted in Napa Valley - I went there in Mid-June thinking THAT would be a fabulous time to experience the produce of that epically fertile area. I had wonderfully lush food, and all beautifully prepared - but so much of it was Not Local. It was lush but well, almost cliche lush. Oysters, caviar, scallops, tuna, duck.... I'm in Napa Valley and California in mid June... I want Late Spring Bounty. I get local butter, carrots and radishes. EVERYTHING else is from somewhere else.
BUt while enjoying myself, I am not to be daunted. What?, I think to myself will the French Laundry do with a radish?

As someone who strives to make the produce of the local farmers market, nearby farm and the small garden accessible to the average busy person with kids, the *Radish* is a bit of a challenge. Even the most kale eating, sunflower seed gulping tomato biting littler person is wary of a radish after the first bite. It is fiery for little tongues, and even big ones too. But if they could find a way to make it magical at the French Laundry, I would soldier on.

It came out lightly poached (or cooked sous vide in broth) and sliced paper thin.

The solution at the French Laundry to the radish was to use it (sparingly) as a garnish. I confess, this disappointment colored the rest of the meal (as did the large pieces of duck and tuna - while prepared simply and beautifully, they SERIOUSLY lacked in imagination. I can do simple and beautiful at home. If I pay that much, I deserve whimsy and complexity I choose NOT to engage in in my own kitchen.)

So the radish remains in limbo, and I must continue to experiment.

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