French Laundry-Previous Incarnation
- Randy Salenfriend
With all the talk about the FL (and rightfully so), I began to reminisce about its' first life under Don & Sally Schmitt. Anyone have any experience with it back then? I went for the first time in about 1992 or so. Even then, it was the idyllic retreat. They had one seating and encouraged you to linger through the meal, taking a break now & then by meandering through the garden. We dined upstairs on a perfectly lovely summer's night. I can still remember strolling out on the balcony and looking out towards Highway 29 and then heading down the stairs to the garden.
All I remember of the meal was a delightful roast pork, pinot noir and an astounding cheese plate following our 3 hour dinner. Isn't it nice to think that although many things about the French Laundry have changed, some haven't? Nice to recall this little bit of history.
Along with their daughter and son-in-law, Don and Sally Schmidt now run the Apple Farm, a wonderful organic apple farm up in Philo, in the Anderson Valley. They also have 3 guest rooms on the property, and Sally teaches cooking classes (I took one of her "cooking weekend" classes 2 yrs ago and it was wonderful). They grow a wide variety of fresh apples as well as making jams, chutneys, apple juice, cider vinegar, cider syrup, and hard cider. Definitely stop by the orchard if you're heading up Mendocino way (take a right off Highway 128 just past Philo, onto the Philo-Greenwood Rd.) or check out their wares in season at the Ferry Plaza farmers market.
re: Brandon Nelson
Hey Brandon, nice to hear from you.
So true, fondly remembered as gracious folks and in my opinion, should be given more credit for being early trendsetters. When you think about it, they were really among the first to feature things that a lot of industry folks are doing now and that are taken for granted. Such things as wine/food pairings, tastings, 3 hour, 1 seating only tables among others. In addition, they were advocates for the whole wine country "experience" without really shouting it. Definitely ahead of their time. Chow.