12 days: on the eighth day of christmas: mchale… (2015)

•December 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Canapé: Oat Chip
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One of the three guest chefs at this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas whose restaurants I have not visited is Isaac McHale and his Clove Club in London, England.*  I know of him, of course, from his short stint with his merry band of Young Turks, which included James Lowe (now chef of Lyle’s in London) and Ben Greeno, who left the group to become head chef of momofuku Seiobo in Sydney, Australia (Greeno has since left Seiobo to become head chef of The Paddington in Woollahra, a neighborhood in Sydney).  But neither did I eat at their pop up at the Ten Bells, nor had I met any of them, nor had any of their food.

So, I very much looked forward to this eighth night, when McHale cooked with Christopher Kostow at The Twelve Days of Christmas.

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12 days: on the seventh day of christmas: floresca and ryan… (2015)

•December 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

2nd Course: Rutabaga
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Two more impressive culinary resumés you will hardly find in a pair than Kim Floresca‘s and Daniel Ryan‘s.  (It’d also be a challenge to find two more lovely and generous people.) Between the two of them, they’ve worked at The French Laundry, Alinea, per se, Alain Ducasse NY, and Eleven Madison Park; and together, they worked at el Bulli, Mugaritz, and, most recently, The Restaurant at Meadowood, where she was executive sous chef and he was the pastry chef.  That last stop is where I met the couple four years ago, at the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Since then, the two have left Napa to head their own kitchen and restaurant on the other side of the country.  Floresca and Ryan are now cooking at [one] in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I had the opportunity to eat in 2013.  Sadly, I had not seen them since then.

So, I was particularly happy when I learned that Christopher Kostow was calling them home to Meadowood Napa Valley for a reunion on the seventh night of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas.

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12 days: on the sixth day of christmas: wilkinson… (2015)

•December 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

1st Course: Fermented Kohlrabi
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At the start of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood, there was only one chef with whom I was not familiar at all.

I had neither heard of Matt Wilkinson, nor his restaurant Pope Joan in Melbourne, Australia.  And for this reason, when I was asked, as I always am, which dinner I most anticipated this year, I replied that it was his.  Halfway through this dinner series, on the sixth day, I finally got to discover Wilkinson’s cooking when he presented a seven-course dinner with hosting chef Christopher Kostow.
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12 days: on the fifth day of christmas: skenes… (2015)

•December 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Canapé: Eel
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I have eaten at Saison (San Francisco) nearly twenty times, and at The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena) nearly fifty times.  With only one exception*, I have eaten at these two restaurants more than all others around the world. I have also photographed in both of their kitchens many times, and have, over the years become intimately familiar with the ethos, service, and food of these two restaurants.

So it was with immense pleasure and delight that I found the highly talented chefs of both of these restaurants together in the same kitchen on the fifth night of the Twelve Days of Christmas this year.  What was surely one of the most anticipated dinners of this series, and the second time this year that six Michelin stars have cooked together at the Twelve Days of Christmas, chefs Joshua Skenes and Christopher Kostow produced a meal that was every bit as consistent and good as I have come to expect from their restaurants.
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12 days: on the fourth day of christmas: vallejo… (2015)

•December 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Canapé mise-en-place.

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One of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Mexico City was at Quintonil in the city’s posh Polanco district. The cooking there combined the saturated flavors and colors of Mexican cookery with the ingredients and sentiments of cultures abroad.  In particular, I remember blushing slices of ahi tuna with warm pico de gallo and an inky sauce made from pig ears, and a bowl of Iberian pork jowl marinated in achiote with beans and pickled onions (see all of the photos from that meal here).

Not having had the chance to return to Quintonil since, I was particularly excited to see chef Jorge Vallejo on the list of guest chefs for this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas, where he was the fourth to cook with Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood.
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12 days: on the third day of christmas: puglisi… (2015)

•December 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

8th Course: Smoked Cream

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At a dinner at relæ in Copenhagen a few months ago, I marveled at the amount of flavor coaxed out of carrots and seaweed – an unexpectedly dynamic marriage – and how simple and delicious chicken could be with little more than its crispy skin, blitzed into a crunchy crumble, and some cabbage (here are the photos from that meal).

Having had the pleasure of eating at Christian Puglisi‘s restaurant twice, I looked forward to seeing him cook at the Twelve Days of Christmas this year, where he was the third chef to collaborate with hosting Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood.
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12 days: on the second day of christmas: mlinarevic… (2015)

•December 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Mustards.

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A last-minute trip to Switzerland earlier this year landed me within commuting distance of Focus, a two Michelin-starred restaurant at the Park Hotel Vitznau on the quiet banks of Lake Lucerne.  Although I had seen pictures of the resort online, no photo could have prepared me for its breathtaking setting, nestled among the Alps with an enormous bear and bull staging their age-old rivalry on a field of green that stretched to the water’s edge. (Here are the photos from that meal at Focus.)

Nenad Mlinarevic, chef of Focus, was one of only two names unknown to me when The Restaurant at Meadowood sent me the final roster for this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas.  Since, I have enjoyed getting to know him through is cooking at his restaurant in Switzerland, as well as at Meadowood Napa Valley, where he was the second chef to cook this year with Christopher Kostow.
Continue reading ’12 days: on the second day of christmas: mlinarevic… (2015)’

 
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