Beyond the Blue Door

Paul and I recently had the good fortune to eat at The French Laundry! For those of you who know me — you know I LOVE to eat. Almost as much as I love to sleep.

Getting the last minute reservation was total dumb luck. I called two days before we were heading to Napa and got the rezzie 30 hours before we showed up to eat. The meal was so many things — intimidating, exhilarating, scrumptious, tiring, spendy, inspiring — in sum, a foodie and chef whore’s wet dream. I was in hog heaven!

Never one to disappoint my readers, I took a million pictures — just like a proper tourist should. I didn’t care that I looked like a fool — this is a meal that should be fawned over.  You should revel in the art that Thomas Keller has created.  Allow me to take you on a photo journey of our evening:

The obligatory bathroom selfie -- what? It's NOT obligatory? Harumpf to you!

The obligatory bathroom selfie — what? It’s NOT obligatory? Harumpf to you!

 

Roped Paul into a selfie. His expression is priceless!

Roped Paul into a selfie. His expression is priceless!

This post is entitled “Beyond the blue door” because the French Laundry’s front door is blue. I’m super clever, right? Little known fact (well, not so little) is that the restaurant used to be an actual french laundry — hence the name.

The blue door

The blue door

In a nod to it’s old laundering days, every napkin has a cute clothespin on it. Yes, we stole ours. Please, do you think we’re rookies at this game?

The clothespin nod

The clothespin nod

There were two tasting menus offered, one veggie, one not.  Normally I don’t eat a ton of meat (read: no rabbit, duck, lamb or red meat) — but I made an exception for this meal. I’ve included pics of both menus for you. Check out the second line from the top — our menus were personalized and said “Andrea kicked cancer’s ass”. I mean, come on. Attention to detail anyone?

Tasting Menu #1

Tasting Menu #1

Tasting menu #2

Tasting menu #2

Don’t worry if you can’t read the menu — I’ll write everything out for you below. Here we go……..

OK, I’ve already lied to you — I don’t quite remember all the details of our amuse bouche. The first was a salmon ice cream come with caviar. The second was some sort of delectable cheese puff. Honestly, the ice cream cone thingie was one of the highlights of the meal for me. AH-maze.

The amuse bouche

The amuse bouche

The second amuse

The second amuse

Oysters and Pearls: “Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar. Perfect way to begin the meal — this was the perfect balance of rich and light — if that’s even possible!

Oysters and Pearls

Oysters and Pearls

Slow-Roasted Garden Beets: Silverado trail strawberries, celery branch, pearson farms pecans, miner’s lettuce and black winter truffle “coulis”.  Another fan favorite over here. I love me a salad — and that this one was all locally sourced, made my heart sing.

Beet salad

Beet salad

Our waiter told us this next one was chef’s attempt to to take us all back to childhood.

Peas and Carrots: Sauted fillet of pacific yellowtail, english peas, nantes carrots, pea tendrils and sweet carrot emulsion.

Peas and Carrots

Peas and Carrots

Clearly, I hated this one:

hated it :)

hated it 🙂

Herb Roasted Pacific Abalone: Sacramento delta asparagus, arrowleaf spinach “panade,” satsuma mandarins, garden turnips and applewood-smoked bacon. (Neither of us really cared for the abalone — too chewy for me — but everything else was awesome).

Abalone

Abalone

Next up — Thanksgiving on a plate. By far, one of the best dishes I’ve ever consumed in my life.

Four Story Hills Farm Poularde: Black mission fig jam, Garden cauliflower, cipollini onions and sicilian pistachio vinaigrette.

Thanksgiving - and boy did I ever give thanks

Thanksgiving – and boy did I ever give thanks

This next course is where Paul and I diverge. I went with the tasting menu lamb — but Paul upgraded to the Wagyu. I read somewhere that the wagyu served at the french laundry is grown and slaughtered specifically for this restaurant only. Who knows if that’s actually true or not. Paul said it melted like butter. I didn’t love the lamb  — since I don’t really eat lamb. So Paul got a double course on this one!

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-Eye: Garden broccoli, caramelized green garlic, polenta “croutons” and “creme de morilles”.

Lamb

Lamb

Charcoal-Grilled Japanese Wagyu: Yukon gold potate “rosti,” black trumpet mushrooms, garden radishes, hearts of romaine lettuce, lava bean and “sauce bordelaise”.

Wagyu

Wagyu

“Soumaintrain”: Garden sunchokes, brown butter “beignet,” royal blenheim apricots, sunflower seeds and red russian kale. Yumm-o

Beignet

Beignet

Finally, we’re at course No. 8 — the dessert course (if you include the amuse, it’s really course No. 10). They give up on writing all this stuff out on the menu at this point b/c dessert is about 5 courses in and of itself. Died!

“Assortment of Desserts” Fruit, ice cream, chocolate and candies.

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Oh, I forgot to mention the bread! I didn’t take any pictures of it — but we were given two small plates of fancy butter to go with our bread. One was from Vermont and the other was local (I think). One was saltier than the other — and both were divine.

Alrighty, so 3 hours later, we finished eating.  It was after midnight and we were the last patrons in the restaurant. By now, we’ve befriended our waiter, and we’re having a good ‘ole time.  So I pull yet another touristy/foodie move and ask for a tour of the kitchen.  I read that you can totally do this. Our waiter was happy to oblige. We didn’t get to see any action as service was over and the kitchen was gleaming.  We did see chef (not Thomas Keller though) prepping his team for the next day. They were all gathered round the expediting table (died!).  Also our waiter confirmed that it is indeed true that there is CCTV to Per Se in the kitchen. How F’ing cool is that?

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I asked our waiter if a ton of people try to stage at FL — he said yes, but that they don’t really take anybody — some sort of liability issue.  I was sort of drunk by this point — so I don’t fully recall what he said. But wanted to include the tidbit for the other foodies out there. I tried to ask all the questions we wonder about!

Woosh. I am absolutely beat after writing this post. Hope you enjoyed it and hope each of you get the opportunity to eat at French Laundry once in your life!

xoxo

Dust off the Cobwebs

Hello friends. It’s been a long while since we last visited!  Sorry for the major hiatus.

Returning to work has been good. It’s been a pretty smooth transition, I have to say. I was extremely worried about going back — but am amazed at how respectful everybody has been about my part-time schedule.

I never, in a million years, thought I’d say this — but practicing law again has been, well, downright rewarding and fulfilling.  Utilizing that skill set and pushing myself intellectually – has been great.  It’s so funny how losing a year to cancer can make you re-evaluate everything.  It’s also funny to me how practicing law feels so right at this point in my life. I like the fact that it’s so structured and rule-based.  I take comfort in that — and, it doesn’t hurt that I was on the business side of Stella & Dot pre-cancer, and fundamentally understand how the company works/operates. So applying legal concepts to the business comes naturally to me.

The absolute hardest thing about going back to work has been the fact that I have to remind myself that it’s 2013.  I keep thinking it’s 2012 (from a business perspective as well) — but then need to remind myself that the past year has been a black hole for me — and that the company has grown a ton since I was last there.

Let me qualify that last statement, remembering what year it is, is not the absolute hardest thing about returning to work.  Rather, it’s the physical and mental endurance piece that’s been the hardest.  After three days (Mon-Wed) in the office, I literally need two days (Thur-Fri) to lay in bed and recover.  By Saturday I feel like myself again — but it’s dang rough on me.

This past week was particularly hard b/c we had company for Thanksgiving and we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 8 (and went to a friends holiday party and my niece’s Nutcracker ballet performance).  When I’m on the go non-stop and don’t have a couple days built in to relax, it all sort of goes to hell in a hand basket.

On Monday I was whining to Paul that I went back to work too early, and that I couldn’t possibly get through the work week.  Well, true to form, Paul was having none of it. He pushed my ass right out of bed and wouldn’t allow me to make excuses. So off to work I went, and it was difficult for me, but I muddled through (and made the wise decision to outsource a few projects to outside counsel).

Sadly, this week was no better for me. I’m coming off of a crazy Thanksgiving weekend, just finished a crazy three-day work week, and am now jumping into more craziness.  We had dinner with friends last night, a holiday party tomorrow night, a wedding in LA on Sunday, the Warner Brothers back lot tour Monday, and then back to work Tues-Thurs. Whoosh, I got tired just typing all of that!

In any event, I know from my WordPress stats, that most of you really enjoy seeing pictures. So let me indulge ya’ll (read the slideshow captions).

xoxo,
A

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11.12.13

Today marks my return to work at Stella & Dot as their Corporate Counsel. It’s like the first day of school!

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Hoopla 2013 Recap

I had a blast at Hoopla this year and would be remiss if I didn’t thank Tracey S. and Julie S. for making me an honorary Gem Fatale for the event (they even let me crash their team picture at the VIP dance party!)

I’m happy to report that I did a decent job of pacing myself. The first day I pushed it, I mean, who wouldn’t — it’s the fashion show and the new line reveal. But it was so nice to see all of the Stylists and Home Office team — I just was running around like a crazy person visiting with everybody.

After the fashion show I went back to my room to change and rest, then hit up the Gem Fatale’s team party.  Tracey let me escape to her room to lay down for a spell before we pushed on to Tysh’s Diamond Jubilee (thank you to Tracey for letting me use your tempurpedic pillow and to Christy G. for giving me the bracelet off your wrist to get into the party — it pays to know people, and Tysh’s sister, in particular!!).  Tysh’s party was off the chain — she and her hubby are a real inspiration!  Tracey and Julie, always the mama bears, made sure I was in bed at a decent hour. They walked me back to my hotel room and had me there by 10:45. I then proceeded to order room service and talk on the phone until midnight. Win some, lose some!

On Day 2, I attended a ton of training. It was awesome to be able to sit through the actual training and not be running around behind the scenes as a HO employee. I really learned a lot about my personal business and got pretty amped up! I had lunch and dinner in my room and got into my jammies. I was dragging and knew my body needed the break. But, then at around 8:30 it was time for the DJ-O dance party at The Chateau.  Katie (my pal and Dir of PR for S&D) and I walked over together. Sadly, I got carded and was stupid enough not to bring my ID with me. What? This is Vegas, do they really card people? Apparently, yes they do. So we got split up b/c I had to head back to my room to get my license.

Once back at the party, I headed up to the VIP rooftop (again, pays to know peeps and work for HO!). I saw a bunch of my friends from Home Office and was hanging with them for a few minutes before my mama bears swooped in and nabbed me.  They took me back to their team’s banquet and I mainly hung out there (b/c everybody else was dancing on top of the banquets, I had a nice cushy seat for my lazy bum!). I also hung in Tysh’s section, with my HO peeps and at the bar 🙂

I promised myself I’d leave at 10:30 latest. Yeah, right. At a little past midnight, I got a text from Katie (who I still hadn’t seen since the ID debacle). She was in the DJ booth and wanted me to join all the other HO peeps. I passed (so mature of me, right?!) and went back to my room to rest. Proud of myself for making grown up decisions. It’s really hard when you’re in such a fun environment. And those of you who know me — know I love to paaaaart-hey!

Good thing I didn’t go to the DJ booth too, I saw Maddie the next day icing her foot and, ultimately, I saw that she ended up with a cast before she even left Vegas. I suppose I just broke the cardinal rule of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Whoopsies!

After the club, on my walk back to my room, I ran into Dana, who BTW, was a dancing machine together with Ha! It was nice to catch up with her for a bit.

Day 3 saw more training as well as my 38th birthday. I didn’t tell anybody at Hoopla it was my bday b/c I didn’t want to make a big deal. But I did duck out of training early to grab some vino and play the slots. Happy to report that after feeding close to 80 bucks into the damn Wheel of Fortune slot, I won it all back plus a little at some other slot. Yay me!

Then I flew home to Paul and Lucy and we went out for a birthday dinner (and, as you know from my previous post, my real birthday surprise was yet to come!)

So, what did I take away from Hoopla? Well, for one, I’m able to make the right decisions for myself in order to care for my post cancer body. Two, it’s always amazing to be surrounded by such an inspiring group of people. Three, the training was AH-MAZE. Danielle is fantastic at her job. D, you’d be proud of me — I just reached out to three potential hostesses and planted the seed for future Trunk Shows! Four, if you are going to spill a glass of wine on the CEO, Jessica Herrin, you pray that she doesn’t remember it was you who did it (yup, party foul by me on Day 1 — maybe I can play the cancer card if she remembers?!).

To the amazing and incomparable Home Office team and a special shout out to the Field Dev team, in particular — HOORAY to you. Congratulations on a spectacular event

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It Takes a Village

So many people have come out to show their support for us, it’s been incredibly moving and amazing.  In an act of solidarity, my hubby, my mom and my dad all shaved their hair off too.  In addition, I was blown away when Tracey Schwartz, a Stella & Dot Stylist and friend, who lives in Texas, also buzzed her hair off.  Tracey and I have been in constant contact since my diagnosis — she’s been a great source of support and strength for me.  She told me early on that she was going to chop her hair off alongside me, but I thought she was bluffing.  Below is the picture to prove she that she says what she means and does what she says! Go Paul, Mom, Dad and Tracey — you all are my heroes.

We had a number of visitors over the past few days — each brought with them little treats for us.  Tom and Melissa Yu-Gac brought us light-hearted conversation and laughs, Angela (our wonderful nurse from NOVA (our IVF clinic)) brought hugs and a cashmere hat and gloves to keep this baldy warm.  Shadin and Marwan brought food for the soul in the form of Little Star pizza and salad! And, last, but certainly not least, Melissa Trousdale dropped off two handmade soft ‘n fuzzy hats for me. She took the time to make me a fleece Bills hat! It must’ve been a challenge to match up the pattern to get it just right. I LOVE this hat and wear it around the house all the time! Thank you to all of you for helping re-charge our batteries over these past few days. It is so much appreciated.

Me? Well, I pushed through my “bad” days and am up and about again. I’ve been diligently doing my PT exercises daily and I go for a walk daily as well. In general, my body sort of aches and I’m tired a lot of the time now. It makes me question what’s going on with my white blood cell counts. So far, my counts have been fine, but I wonder if I’ll be able to keep that track record up much longer.  I suppose only time will tell.

Today I may head over to the mall and window shop a bit — or I may just walk around the ‘hood and then come home and watch more episodes of Downton Abbey (I just got the first season on Apple TV!).  Oh, I forgot to mention that my brother Bob stopped by for a bit yesterday, we were plotting which slow cooker recipes to make (we’re nerds, I realize). He’s been really great about stopping over at least once or twice a week. It’s a nice break for Paul especially, because the two of them can talk about golf etc. Thanks Baab, your visits really do help 😉

Other than that, I’ve been playing around with tying head scarves onto my head — because starting tomorrow –I have a full social calendar that will force me to leave the house in more than just sweats!

On Wednesday, I’m having lunch with Cindy Hess, a partner at my old law firm, Fenwick and West.  Thursday is Paul’s birthday — so I am taking him out to dinner in North Beach and then to the Buena Vista Social Club for a proper Irish coffee.  Friday brings a number of doctor appointments followed by a stop off at Stella & Dot’s Director’s Retreat! I can’t wait to see all the Stylists and my work pals. It feels like it’s been ages!

Well, that’s really it for this post. Not much to report other than slogging through cancer. Sorry!