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The French Laundry’s garden

March 29, 2010

For some undistinguished reason I’ve always had this fantasy that Chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry was located in a secluded and overgrown forest in Napa,  somewhere off the beaten path. A magical mythical castle with a slightly toasted Brioche bread crumb path leading to its door. I envisioned it as concealed as aragonite forming in the shell of a mollusk and to my surprise it is just as pretty, but as visible as a salad dressing stain on a large white couch….. I guess some fantasies are better left in fables.

The French Laundry is on Washington, which is a busy street that runs through Yountville’s center square. Directly across from the restaurant is their garden; organic, pristine, proud and immaculate. And let me not forget, it is beautiful.

Full of promise and bounty, this incredible garden is stretched across 3 acres of land complete with a Greenhouse (which we forgot to enter) and a well-organized irrigation system.Would you expect anything less from Chef Thomas Keller?

Upon this discovery I naively thought for a moment that perhaps it was a community garden and then I glanced down at the and sign labeled carrots and was shocked and surprised to see The French Laundry’s name. I then looked across the street and there was the restaurant just sitting there, smiling, in all its glory. Yes, it is a glorious sight. I immediately sprinted across the street to take pictures. This is a culinary Graceland…and the garden is a central artery of this famed institution.

The garden supplies fruit, vegetables and flowers to two of Keller’s other restaurants, Ad Hoc and Bouchon, which are also on Washington in walking distance from The French Laundry. Rainbow chard was developing, the Allium was beginning to sprout, and the Strawberries where showing their first signs of life. In case you are wondering, we didn’t touch a thing! I promise. Can’t help but wonder if Chef Keller drives a car with a bumper sticker that says “Know your Farmer”. He should.


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