All righty-dighty. Imonna roll here. I've cooked several things from The French Laundry cookbook, and they were all wonderful. STOP. DROP. And ROLL.
Fast forward to page 22. Rip that frickin' page out and burn the bitch. That is all I have to say. Oh, Nay, Nay. I have lots to say. If ever a dish sucked, this one did. I will say it's the suckiest dish that ever sucked in a lifetime of suckiness. The recipe was for Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beluga Caviar. I looked up panna cotta and found a lovely sweet Italian dessert. I don't know what panna cotta has to do with cauliflower and this CRAP, except that panna cotta does have gelatin in it. But, I'm a French Laundry Virgin, so bear with me.
Here's the freakin' page from French Laundry. Don't even bother reading it.
Now the French Laundry calls for gelatin sheets. I'll just use gelatin granules. Besides, where the hell am I going to find gelatin sheets on the Outer Banks???? I do not think this substitution had anything to do with the outcome of this dish.
Now, you know I love oysters. I love 'em raw. I love 'em steamed. I love 'em grilled. I love 'em fried. In fact, I just might marry an oyster one day. I opened the oysters and let the oyster joos drain into the dish.
After 30 minutes of simmering, I added in the cream, and simmered for 10 more minutes.
Into the mini-processor it goes.
Smush it up. Salt and pepper. Add some butter. Call me Pauler, but I don't think you can have too much buttah.
Here's my cauliflower puree. And I must admit, it's quite good, but then I like greens and stuff that smell up the house, so this is quite mild for me. Oooh. What's this? Gelatin. Screw the sheets the FL asks for. I'll just do the packages.
Gelatin going into the cauliflower.
Here's the cauliflower puree in the bottom of the wine glasses. Sad that I don't even have 3 wine glasses that match.
Now for the oyster joos. I have read and reread the French Laundry recipe and there's something I don't quite understand. After shucking the oysters, it says to strain the juices through a fine mesh strainer, then pour 1/4 cup water over the oysters and refrigerate. OK. I refrigerated both the strained juices and the oysters with 1/4 cup water. Then for the oyster jelly (I find myself having a hard time writing that - oyster "jelly". It sounds so wrong on some many different levels.), FL instructs me to "Remove the oysters from the liquid (DISCARD THEM) (emphasis mine) and strain the juice. You will need 1/4 cup of oyster juice." Why not just use the actual oyster juice? Perhaps I'm reading it wrong. And who the hell DISCARDS oysters? That is heresy, I tell you. All right, I'll get back on track. Just pour the gelatin into warm water.
Stir vigorously to dissolve.
Add a few grinds of pepper and stir.
Finally, coat the tops of the panna cotta with the oyster jelly and refrigerate until set. Oyster jelly. Those are two words that don't belong in the same universe, much less in the same sentence.
Next, it said to garnish with Beluga caviar. Harris Teeter didn't have any Beluga and I didn't have my glasses on, and I didn't realize I'd bought fish bait for a garnish.
Mr. Hawthorne arrived home from a long tiring day at work and wanted something to eat immediately. I had just the thing for him. He raised the spoonful of cauliflower panna cotta and oyster gelee to his lips, and at the last second, looked at me. As he describes it, my nostrils flared, my brow furrowed, then it was all over. Too late. Kind of like a fire-in-the-hole moment. As soon as this concoction landed on his tongue, he sprinted to the trashcan to disgorge. His words: "As soon as I got it in my mouth I knew something horrible was going to happen." "This is offensive." "This is the worst shit I've ever put in my mouth." "The only thing worse is throw up." "No, it's running neck and neck with throw up." "What the hell kind of crap caviar is this?" "That's frickin' fish bait." "On a scale, Beluga is up here. (He reaches above his head.) The black stuff I like is about here. (He puts his hand at his chest.) The shit you bought ... (He's searching for words.) There is no bottom of the scale for that crap." Mr. Hawthorne's mouthful in the trash. Thinking, surely he must be exaggerating, I decided to be bold and try it.
AAAAAAAAACCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you ever see the movie Big with Tom Hanks? There's a scene where he's at a corporate cocktail party and has his first bite of caviar and frantically tries to remove all vestiges from his tongue by roughly scrubbing with his napkin. Let's just say, I know how he felt.
All was not lost, however. Dixie seemed to enjoy it. But remember, this is the dog who likes to roll in nutria excrement and thinks she smells purty. This dish was truly horrid. Perhaps the worst thing I've ever tasted, although the paregoric I had to take one time for a horrible cough I had ranks right up there, but at least I had the pleasant side effect from the paregoric of getting high as crap. Reading the bottle, I thought surely the 1 teaspoon was a misprint and they really meant 1 tablespoon. Then, I figured it wasn't working at all and I should probably take a shot glass of it. By that time it was 3 AM, I was high as a kite, watching I Love Lucy reruns on TV, laughing hysterically. But I digress. I'm wondering. What was Thomas Keller thinking? It's got to be a joke, right? Or were there crack monkeys in the kitchen that day that came up with this concoction?
Now, if you think I'm making this up, please go to Carol's French Laundry blog and read her insightful comments on this dish. I even e-mailed Carol last night about this dish, it was so unbelievably God-Awful. Carol, I really thought you were exaggerating and blowing things a bit out of proportion, since I know your disdain for crabs and your not-a-lotta-love-there for oysters. I humbly apologize. I never should have doubted you. I think Carol's neighbor's son summed it up best with his description, and I quote, "the stupid pepper jelly with the diarrhea puree." I will NOT, I repeat, NOT, be making this again. I'm still looking for a tongue-scraper.