French Laundry 2011


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"Hans and Joan arriving."

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"Maureen and Julia with their 'cones' - Cornettes with salmon tartare and creme fraiche."

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"'Oysters and Pearls' - Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Kumamoto Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar."

"White Truffle Egg Custard in Shell with Ragout of Black Perigord Truffles."

"Butter roll. The first of a progression of breads."

"Stinging Nettle Flan, Sunchokes, Toasted Pine Nuts waiting for soup."

"Veloute of Chanterelle Mushrooms with Stinging Nettle Flan, Sunchokes, Toasted Pine Nuts."

"'Caesar Salad' - Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Tail, Caramelized Romaine Lettuce, Garlic Melba, Bottarga di Muggine."

"Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Saddle with Falafel, Marinated Eggplant, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt, Za'tar Jus."

"Boho Bel with Hobbs Bacon, Pruneaux d'Agen, Fennel Bulb, French Laundry Garden Greens, Dijon Mustard."

"Megan proposing a toast to Maureen. First, i think i speak for everyone when i say mike, you are an amazing, generous, dear man. Thank you for this most elegant and special evening. Now, about that troublesome maureen: Its easy enough to think of things to say about maureen, about why we love and admire her. There are the obvious things: her sense of style, her her long neck and blue eyes, her sense of humor, her haircut, her skinny legs, her ability to sniff out a bargain, her loyalty, her appreciation of nerds and her technology prowess. She's beyond perceptive and generous with her compassion. She's always fun at a party, her kids and husband are wonderful and devoted to her, and she cooks something special every single night. Forget admire, we envy the way she goes through life. But, sometimes, the most obvious attributes arent the most lustrous, the most impressive or enduring. Lets be honest, she cant always be this cute, can she? No, in my opinion, Maureen's greatest quality, the one that will keep her young and the one i admire most, is her brain. Sure, i love her laugh, her sparkle, but what i really love is a conversation with her. Do i love to dance wildly with her at a party? Sure. But i prefer to walk the stanford campus with her, solving all of life's problems. Maureen is a seeker...not in some new agey,weird way, but in an intellectual, authentic way. Shes a skeptic in the best sense of the word. She's always reading, always studying. Shes always moving forward with her mind. Travel writing, poetry, teaching....these are just some of the best iteration of her restlessness, her constant search to know more, understand more, try more. But intellectual, spiritual, geographic, psychic restlessness can be a curse, if you dont know how to turn it off, how to calm down. Though she doesnt think shes very good at staving off the what- ifs, the how much more can i gobble up before stopping - she is. She knows whats really important and never makes the wrong choice between options....she chooses wisely and always knows in her heart what's important. Her family, her friends, her history, the classic over the temporily chic, whether in literature or style, ethics or ephemera. Im so happy to be one of her friends, part of this special intimate group. Happy birthday, maureen, we love you."

"Maureen talking about the guests and their roles in her life."

"Joan. My sister extraordinaire, who laughs at my jokes, suffers through my manic episodes with patience and guidance and understanding, who shares my love of looking for that next new experience and unfortunately shares my hesitation to take action, a cynic with a dream, and a sharp tongue. You are beautiful and fun and so easy to be around. I am looking forward to the day you finally move here."

"Hans. Other than joan, you are the person who has known me the longest here, and truly my oldest friend. you went on a digging mission to see if your memories were accurate, and you unearthed the 17 year old young woman i once was. For my part, I found the funny, creative, adventurous spirit I knew. it has been fun to reconnect and see how our lives have played out in parallel. Being exchange students satisfied a questing urge we shared, yet it opened the door for knowing that the people we came to know and love would unlikely ever be with us at the same time. At age 17, you said that our lives would be forever goodbyes. For once, i will be the cup is half full person and say, let's look at it as lives full of a future of hellos."

"Valerie. The first friend i made in california, I remember sitting behind you in class and watching you toss your hair, admiring your physical charm, but also your intellectual side as we talked philosophy and literature. We moved on to more prosaic aspects of our lives and loved our daughters with equal pride. You are a strong woman, a shrewd businesswoman. You are also my flakiest friend (and that's saying something), we sometimes take months to reply to one another, but also know that, no matter what, we can count on one another in need. You are a person who understands me intuitively, never judges, always sympathizes, my partner in hypochondria, and thank goodness we have one other to talk ourselves down from each panicked episode."

"Deborah. My partner in analysis paralysis, who can hash over and take apart the pros and cons of any choice with me, and still not come to a conclusion after hours, days, months, maybe even years, and a thousand dish walks ...in all of our inefficiency. We've been together through some milestones in life. Our daughters met at nursery school, and we have seen them both off to college now. I remember when I told you I was pregnant with JT, and you cried. We are always hoping we will get together and get organized, stop procrastinating, start our lives. And maybe we will soon."

"Megan. I first spotted her in an infant parenting class for Henry and was drawn to her from the first, fascinated by her loose artistic clothing (post-pregnancy). She invited me over to her beautiful garden and i proceeded to dump my entire life story on her in the space of about an hour (which hans will tell you is just me, but i'm telling you is a mark of megan's interest in individuals and their stories and ability to draw us out.) megan forever offers me glimpses of the potential in my life, presenting goals that she thinks i should pursue, a counterweight to my analysis paralysis, a person who can motivate and inspire. Having a friend who believes in your possibilities is priceless."

"Mette. My newest friend, whom i picked up in a park, while we watched our sons gravitate toward one another, as i did to her (what can i say, i am a sucker for a foreign accent); we quickly realized we could count on one another, reserve judgment in all matters, support each other in parenting our boys and the tedium of household duties. I remember the boys in the back seat, barely verbal, starting to converse with one another pointing out buses, cars, as Mette and I in the front seat opened our own conversations. Like Megan, Mette has mastered the art of the leading question, and you know how I love that! We have a natural openness with one another which I believe makes us each feel at ease in the world and less alone, and I so appreciate your company."

"Julia. When you were 2 i held you on my lap at the pelican inn and said you were everything i had hoped my little girl could be... and you still are. all the mothers i know envy that I have you as a daughter. you are kind, thoughtful, intelligent, perceptive, nonjudgmental yet courageous enough to stand up for what is right. Munkle often reminds me when i despair that i have not achieved enough, that my children are my accomplishment; and, although i know i can't really take credit for who you are, i can say i am utterly proud of you."

"John. Anybody who can put up with living with me for 25 years has to be loyal. He is a safe haven, a considerate and responsible partner who always has given me the freedom to explore the world, in ways unconventional and altruistic. Some of you may already know that one of our first fights was about the fact that i dropped a straw wrapper on the car floor... and yet he has managed to survive my sloth and chaos and volatility and even maybe bring me up a notch... although, as anyone can tell you, the house is a much more orderly place when he is in charge and i am away. Thank you for your steadfastness in the maelstrom that is Maureen."

"John and Maureen."

"The Kleenex Tissue course."

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"Birthday Cake - Valrhona Bitter Chocolate Cake, Ivory Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Biscuit, Manjari Chocolate Ganache."

"Birthday Cake served."

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"Banana Sorbet with Gros Michel Banana Bread, Medjool Dates, Ginger Nuage."

"Delice au chocolat a la menthe with Feuilletine, Mast Brothers Chocolate Nibs, Brown Cardomon, Garden Mint Ice Cream."

"Coffee and Donuts - Coffee Mousse with cream and Beignets. Here we have the 'coffee' and cream."

"And here the 'donuts'."

"Visiting the kitchen."

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"Cool new earrings."

"Hostess showing off her glassware."

"My favorite model wearing her new outfit."

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