Dear The French Laundry,
How did a humble baker girl like me end up at a fine establishment such as yours? Seriously. Breathtaking. How did this happen?
Ok… truth be told, my friend Tracy extended a last minute invite, I basically ran to my car in my slippers, a dress on a hanger flying behind me, and I sped from Los Angeles to Yountville in a cool 7 hours. I forgot my lipstick. Thank you for not judging.
Is it The French Laundry, or can I just call you French Laundry?
We’re on a first name basis, right? Good. Thank you.
French Laundry. You are Fancy. Capital F, Fancy.
… I can tell by the generous amount of gorgeous Thomas Keller flatware, delicious amount of caviar, and generous amount of champagne.
You brought me this tiny pearled spoon scoop and I thought about accidentally putting it in my purse for 3.45 seconds. It’s a good thing I remembered that I don’t steal things. I love that little scooper. Well played.
You have salts from all over the world. One of these is from the deep ocean, one of them is a French grey salt, one of them is a 40 million year old salt from Montana. Wait… did you say 40 million years old? Is Montana even that old? I believe you.. mostly because you serve your salt in a swan.
I’m humbled by your salt choices. Truly. So delicious. So delicate. Refined. So much refinement.
French Laundry, your Cold Corn Soup almost made me cry. You brought giant truffles out in a dehumidified box. Whoah! You served me Lobster Mitts…. I didn’t even know that was a thing! Lamb with pine nut vinaigrette? I love you. Every bite was entirely humbling. I mean that most sincerely.
You did a thing to me… I think it was called Caramelia Chocolate “Cremeux”. Don’t judge me for only being able to pronounce one of those words correctly.
Chocolate mousse, caramel corn, Georgia peanuts, ridiculous banana puree, and and and and Salted Popcorn Ice Cream. It was the best dessert to ever happen to my mouth. I thank you. My heart thanks you.
The thing is, French Laundry… the thing is this: you’re fancy… to be sure… but you and your staff have a way about you. You somehow make ultra fine dining feel like an intimate home dining experience. You make the most delicious, perfectly executed food taste like mind blowing home cooking. I mean that with the most respect possible.
Your food tastes like community. It tastes like love and pride. It taste like dedication, education, and attention. It tastes like knowledge and technique… and it tastes like you love your grandmothers. It is everything that is good, brought to its highest potential. Inspired. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know… but you blew my mind.
Would now be a good time to mention that we wrote ‘booyakah’ in your guestbook?
Yea… that happened.
Oh! We also took a picture outside in the dark. Tracy was holding her lightsaber. Totally normal. Nevermind.
Thank you, French Laundry. That sounds trite, but I mean it from deep down inside.
Ps. Please don’t show your pastry chef these cookies. Seriously. They’re no biggie. Like… seriously.
Back to real life.
Back to my boring old cookies.
Light, crisp, and delicious meringues.
Egg whites are whipped with granulated sugar, salt, and lemon juice until they’re stiff and glossy.
Then we fold in ground, toasted almonds, and cornstarch.
Humble… but I like where this is going!
It’s like nutty marshmallow fluff!
I’m into it.
These cookies can either be piped or spooned onto the cookie sheet.
Keep them close on the baking sheet because they don’t spread. Easy!
Top with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Generous. We like generosity.
These cookies were a gift to Tracy, to say thanks for French Laundry invite.
Packaging is key when you’re dealing with Tracy, so I tried to keep it cute.
Oh! And I had to write a note… even if it got awkward. Note paper from Anthropologie.
Lemon Almond Meringues
Makes about 2 dozen small meringues
adapted from Biscotti
1/4 cup finely ground almonds (I ground slivered almonds because it’s easier)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Use a spice grinder or food processor to finely grind slivered almonds. Measure out 1/4 cup of ground almonds. Place ground almonds on one of the lined baking sheets and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place in a small bowl, toss in the cornstarch, and set aside to cool.
In the bowl on an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites and pinch of salt on medium speed. Make sure that the bowl and whisk are completely clean and dry, egg whites are sensitive. Beat until frothy peaks form. Increase the mixer speed to medium high, and gradually add sugar. Add lemon juice. Neat until mixture is glossy white and holds stiff peaks. This took me about 6 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add ground almond mixture and lemon zest. Gently fold together until mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Transfer meringue into a large pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or you can simply use a large soup spoon to dollop meringue onto lined baking sheet. Create 2 inch circles either using the pastry bag or spoon method.
Generously sift powdered sugar on top of the meringues. Top with slivered almonds.
Place sheet trays in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave meringues in the oven until they’re completely dry. When cool, remove meringues from the baking sheet and enjoy. Cookies can be stored, in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.