There are places like Chez Panisse and The French Laundry that I only dream of patronizing. They're not simply restaurants but events for which one saves and plans. And The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington is no exception.
A few months ago we were informed that Tristan's godfather, who lives and works in Switzerland, would be visiting and, in honor of the big law school graduation, planned to treat a select group of us to The Herbfarm experience. I'll never forget the moment I heard the news. Tristan hung up the phone and looked at me deadpan. "Bill is taking us to The Herbfarm on August 2nd." My jaw hit the floor and remained there for a good 5 minutes. Then the excitement set in.
In case you're not familiar, The Herbfarm, in a nutshell, began as a roadside herb stand in 1974 and evolved into a garage restaurant serving 6-course meals. Renovations occurred, a tragic fire struck and after 4 years in a temporary location, the new and current establishment was unveiled. Now considered one of the nation's most-celebrated dining events, The Herbfarm showcases local, seasonal 9-course dinners exceptionally paired with Pacific Northwest wine. As a matter of fact, much of what is served is harvested directly from the kitchen gardens or their nearby farm, not to mention that their warm, crusty bread is baked in a homemade oven out back. And the cherry on top? They churn their herbed butter on-site. Of course they do!
We arrived nice and early in order to take full advantage of the pre-dinner Wine Cellar Open House (they actually have wine from the 1700s!) followed by a hosted garden tour. Carrie Van Dyck had us nibbling leaves, eating flowers and smelling cinnamon basil. The restaurant's two lucky pigs, Basil and Borage, live in the midst of paradise and serve as the recycling/composting unit.
The theme of our meal was The Great Basil Banquet. Tasting the many ways this amazing herb was tucked into each and every dish was astoundingly delicious. Thank you, Bill!
Note: Due to the dimly lit atmosphere, most of the following pictures required a flash and ended up a bit shadowy. My apologies (but you'll get the gist).
Clockwise from left: Wood-grilled Local Sardine with Lemon Basil & Semi-Dried Cherry Tomatoes; Today's Herbfarm Egg, Soft-Scrambled with Dungeness Crab, Lemon Thyme & Paddlefish Caviar (my personal favorite); Puget Sound Quilcene Oyster & Genovese Basil Po'Boy
Marinated Wood-Roasted Summer Squash with Roasted Tomatoes, Blossom Stuffed with House-Made Chevre and Sweet-Basil-and-Nasturtium-Leaf Pesto
(look at that miniature cucumber!!)
Honey-Glazed Duckling Breast with its Confit, "Fog Drip" Chanterelles, New Potatoes, Summer Vegetables and Thai Basil
Housemade Prosciutto & Ruffled Basil Wrapped Fig with Basil-Scented Fall City Ricotta & BC Balsamico
White Chocolate Enrobed Sweet Basil and Yogurt Semi-freddo with Anise Hyssop Poached Stone Fruit, Lime Basil & Raspberry Consomme
Fennel & Basil Dark Chocolate Elixir, Thai Curry White Chocolate Foil, Basil Seed & Rose Petit Four, Madronna Tree Bark & Coffee Macaroon, Raspberry & Peach Pate a Fruits