Dinner at the French Laundry? Check.

Let’s take a momentary break from my sympathetic nervous system to discuss the finest meal I’ve ever had.

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Bryan started calling for a reservation three months in advance, and we ultimately secured a table for four on a Tuesday night at 9 p.m. I asked Bryan if that would mean we were getting the B team in the kitchen. His response, “The French Laundry doesn’t have a B team.”

Our dear friends Kayla and Josh Cagan were our plus-two, but Josh called in a bit of a panic two days before. He had a bad case of the flu. The French Laundry being a bit particular about reservations, we were doubly concerned. I wasn’t sure how we’d even begin asking other people. “Hello. Are you free tomorrow night? In that case, I have a personal financial question for you.”

Fortunately, one 48-hour nap and a clean shave later, Josh rallied and the Cagans flew up from Los Angeles to join us. You’d never know from this photo that Josh is sweating espresso:

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The day of, Bryan spent a few hours studying wine in hopes of convincing the sommelier that we took him seriously. We got all dressed up, arrived about fifteen minutes early, and stood around laughing too readily.

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All of us felt oddly nervous and self-aware until the sommelier came out and asked us if we’d like to have some Champagne in the garden. Yes, we certainly would. We walked outside to find Pink taking a smoke break with her husband.

(Aside: How crazy loveable is Pink? She was having this passionate, animated conversation with her husband — who I recognized from an ancient episode of Punk’d — and it made me feel all glowy for her. Hooray for the strong, fun girls. I didn’t shove my camera at her head, so if you’re curious, she looked like this:

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But there was no carousel horse for her to straddle. So maybe more like this?

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Only wearing a cute strapless maxi dress. Anyway, I digress.)

The meal was, appropriately, the meal of a lifetime. Our menu:

Amuse Bouche

Ahi Tuna Waffle Cone with Crème Fraîche

Remember what I said about Santorini? This smelled like Greece to me.

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Oysters and Pearls

“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

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Moulard Duck “Foie Gras Au Torchon”

Summer Grapes, Hazelnuts and Frisée

The guys figured out that this was essentially the world’s most amazing peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was served with warm brioche, which was replaced every few minutes to ensure that the temperature would be right for softening the Foie Gras. It was the epicurean equivalent of having someone hand you a dryer-toasty towel right as you step out of the bath.

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Very, very old salt from various regions of the world

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Sautéed Fillet of Sablefish

Sunchokes, Navel Orange, Pine Nuts, Arugula, and Niçoise

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Maine Lobster Tail “Pochee Au Beurre Doux”

Heirloom Beets, English Cucumber, Pumpernickel Purée, and Horseradish Crème Fraîche

The champagne grapes on the plate are not grapes. I believe they were bits of cucumber cut with the world’s tiniest melon baller. Also, they were frozen, which made me gasp.

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Salmon Creek Farms Pork Belly

Ibérico Ham, Candy Stripe Figs, Corn Beignet, and Sauce Pimentón

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Marcho Farms “Coeur de Veau”

Caramelized Apple Dumpling, Watercress, and Pickled Walnut Condiment

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My bread was stacking up, as I was getting dangerously full. All the baked goods are made at sister Bistro/Bakery Bouchon.

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Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf Grillée”

Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Broccolini, Tokyo Turnips, and Black Garlic Jus

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Andante Dairy “Cavatina”

Sour Cherry “Chiboust,” Fennel Bulb, Nasturtium, and Mustard Seed Shortbread

The top layer of this gave no resistance against the fork, almost like a meringue. I rubbed it all over my face.

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Honeydew Melon Sorbet

Compressed Watermelon and Basil “Nuage”

I love how the seeds on the plate read like caviar.

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“Gâteau Saint Nizier au Manjari”

Mango-Chili Relish, Mast Brothers Chocolate Cocoa Nibs, Lime Foam, and Coconut Milk Sorbet

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Lemon Verbena “Vacherin”

Tellicherry Pepper Panna Cotta, Lemon Verbena Sherbet, and Chilled Silverado Trail Strawberry Consommé

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Mignardises

I’ve decided I want one of these bowls. Gorgeous:

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Can you tell I was a little tipsy by this point? Yeah:

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They even sent us home with little packages of shortbread, which I rationed over four days of afternoon tea.

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It’s so rare to come across new flavors and sensations as an adult, experiencing so many in one evening has made me more aware of how much cruddy tasting stuff I eat without thinking about it. Eating like this is one of the most personal ways you can experience art, and I’ve decided to look into more restaurants I’d like to try so I can add them to the list as well. In the meantime, I’m paying a lot more attention to how my everyday foods taste, and investing a little more to buy better produce and prepared foods.

In all, it was an unforgettable night, and the company was just as good.

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Intel is making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List as part of its Sponsors of Tomorrow campaign. This meal was just one of ten dreams they’ve helped me achieve.

Paragliding is Not for Me

As part of my Mighty Life List campaign with Intel, I thought I’d go parasailing. I figured I could do it in Puerto Rico or Greece, but it wasn’t available, so Bryan did a little research near home. We’d mostly missed the parasailing season, but we could go paragliding instead, he said. It’s really similar, he said. Sure! We booked it. Then, I did a little research.

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Y’all. Paragliding is nothing like parasailing. They are so dissimilar, in fact, that the description on the parasailing Wikipedia page actually reads, “Parasailing is primarily a fun ride, not to be confused with paragliding [which is terrifying and will kill you dead.]” I teased out the subtext for you on that last bit.

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The paragliding we booked involves strapping yourself to an instructor who’s attached to what can only be described as a large fan. Then you run along the beach and lift off alarmingly high in the air. It’s like flying a helicopter without an actual helicopter around you, or skydiving without an airplane, or building a pair of wings from feather and wax and jumping off the roof of your apartment.

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Nonetheless, we flew to LA to meet the paragliding guy on the beach. Between kayaking and zip-lining (which we’ll discuss in more detail soon), my adrenal system was rather taxed. My body wasn’t used to all this fight-or-flight action — the most my pulse usually quickens is when there’s a new episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” on the TiVo — so I was kind of a mess.

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It was too foggy to take off from the beach, so we had to wait around while I pondered the intricacies of Fast Descents and In-Flight Wing Deflation with my head between my knees.

A pinhole of light came through the fog, so we helped our instructor tow his equipment out onto the beach, where we waited for a few more hours. Four stomach churning hours, while sorority girls made human pyramids in the sand next to us, and I looked around for a paper bag into which I could breathe.

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When the weather refused to cooperate, our instructor decided we’d just have to go up on the nearby hills and jump from there instead. I lifted my head from between my knees and threw Bryan a panic-stricken look. “Uh,” I said. “Um.”

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Jumping off a cliff strapped to a fan was so very far from my original goal of being swept up like a kite over the water that I could no longer squint and see the comparison. Jumping off a cliff was not on my effing list. My throat began to ache.

We walked over to the cars to prepare for our drive. “From where will we be jumping, exactly?” I asked. “The hills up there,” the instructor said.

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The taste of tin filled my mouth. I blinked back tears.

“No,” I said.

“You’ll like it,” the instructor said.

“No,” I said.

“I’ve done it from there many more times than from the beach. Thousands of times.”

“No,” I said. “I have no desire to do this.”

And so we drove to the hotel, where I wept with relief and disappointment at my failure to strap on a pair.

The next day I met Eden for breakfast. Later Rebecca, and I headed out for an enormous bowl of sweet potato fries.

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And several glasses of wine.

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And after that I felt much better.

The end.

Intel is making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List. I’m learning my limits as we go along.

Mighty Closet: Courtney Skott, Outfit 5

Designer Courtney Skott does a high kick.

Jumper! Haaa-yah!

Courtney saw this BCBG Max Azaria pantsuit at Crossroads long before rompers came back in style. She couldn’t immediately figure out how to put it on, which she felt was a good sign. After some time wrangling in the dressing room, she decided to bring it home and figure it out.

Designer Courtney Skott in her living room.

Smart move, because it’s become Courtney’s version of the little black dress. That little diamond of exposed tummy skin is spot on. Courtney is smart about finding sexy clothes that don’t make her look too willing, if you know what I mean. She now thinks the jumper was an early sample, because she saw one at Nordstrom recently. She appears to be correct, because here it is. Did you pay $380 for yours, Skott? Yeah, I didn’t think so. High five.

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The leafy earrings are Eliza Page, an Austin-based jeweler owned by a friend of Courtney’s. Lots of great stuff there, by the way.

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Metallic sandals are Kenneth Cole Reaction.

And so Courtney Skott’s Mighty Closet comes to a close. Does anyone else feel like they could use a cigarette?

Mighty Closet: Courtney Skott, Outfit 4

Courtney Skott

This is Courtney just home from a long day of wit and wallpaper samples at Sugarbaker Designs. If you listen closely, you can just make out the opening strains of “Georgia on My Mind.” The red cuff is from Banana Republic.

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The dress is Joanie Char Silk San Francisco, a score from the Goodwill. The details on this piece are lovely, including the line of shell buttons down the left hip.

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Also? Epaulets with contrast piping. Thaaaat’s what I’m talking about.

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The pumps are vintage Charles Jourdan. I’m pretty sure you can play basketball in those.

Tomorrow we conclude our presentation with a jumper that out-awesomes all the other jumpers. See you then.

Mighty Closet: Courtney Skott, Outfit 3

Designer Courtney Skott

When Courtney was in Spain, she visited this Desigual coat obsessively before finally splurging. Courtney has always been budget minded. We agreed during the shoot that spending $100 on something is a whole deal. If I’m spending more than $25 on an item, I tend to think it over. Thrift shopping makes you a crazy person that way. Lately I’ve begun to realize that it’s better to come home with one perfect investment piece rather than a garbage bag full of not-quite-there second hand stuff, so I’m trying to be better about looking for clothes that are bargains, but maybe not steals.

Courtney says the coat splurge was worth it, because people stop her on the street to compliment her whenever she wears it. I love that, because the whole point of going shopping while you travel is having the “Where’d you get that? conversation afterward. “This? Oh! I picked it up in Barcelona.”

Designer Courtney Skott

These Cartonnier herringbone trousers from Anthropoligie are technically supposed to be “ankle length.” No hemming for the petite girl, hooray! This is a pretty typical work outfit for Courtney.

Designer Courtney Skott

The Dolman-sleeved sweater is from Crossroads, a second-hand resale chain that has so far featured prominently in the Mighty Closet posts. I dig the proportions of this outfit. Easy, but not baggy, with a well-defined waist.

Designer Courtney Skott

The necklace is from Crossroads too. Clearly we all need to spend more time at Crossroads.

Lace Up Oxfords

Staid lace-up oxfords by Biviel from Gimme Shoes. So sexy librarian.

Tomorrow, Courtney channels Dixie Carter circa Designing Women. Stay tuned.