Ray and I had a blow out New Year's Eve dinner at the French Laundry years ago. It was a meal marked by big moments. When we first entered the restaurant, we were handed a glass of champagne. No, I'm sorry. We were handed a glass of THE champagne: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Elizabeth Salmon. Never underestimate pink and bubbly. Never.
We sat. We had courses. I don't remember each but I tell you, I sighed when they landed and I sighed again when I tasted. I do remember a lovely man, made lovelier by this: he leaned over my plate with a truffle and a mini-mandolin in hand and shaved until I felt silly in the tete. I'll tell you why this is big. I remember the truffle. If I'd eaten the dish anywhere else, the moment would have been muddied by a hamfisted chef burying it in sauce and pomp. The glory of truffle would have been lost in culinary hubris. Not here. I remember this truffle because I tasted it in all its earthy, porcine discovered glory.
(Fingerling: not a truffle but a buried find none the less.)
When the new year rang, Thomas Keller walked among us. And I thought, "He's really human. Go figure."
Just this Tuesday, a package arrived for Ray. He tore into it with an excitement not warranted by a delivery from Amazon.
"I got you a present."
He handed me a very big book. "Ad Hoc at Home" by Thomas Keller.
My husband knows how to whip up some happy.
And what do you know. Just after I'd discovered my mystery crop of fingerlings, I get a book by my culinary hero with a recipe to showcase them in all their potato glory and all I had to do was slice them and fry them in olive oil at 350º. And dust them with salt.
(so smokin' close)