Climate change, inequality and a recall vote: How the French Laundry embodies California


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When you finally arrive and drive right past without noticing — “I expected it to be perched on a mountain,” a tourist tells me — you’re reminded that, often, California wealth is subtle. Like the tech billionaire who shows up to dinner in jeans and flip-flops, or the celebrity who lives in a quaint Venice bungalow, the French Laundry’s exterior is not showy. From the street, the large, dark gray house — the first level covered in ivy and shades drawn, obscuring the faces of whoever is dining inside — is well-appointed but not extravagant. The sign out front is easily blocked when a stretch limo stops by to drop off patrons. The opulence at the French Laundry kicks in once you’re inside: in the food, the wine, the service.

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