december dozen…

•September 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The Restaurant at Meadowood

The email I hope to get each year finally arrived.

Christopher Kostow and The Restaurant at Meadowood will be hosting its eleventh annual Twelve Days of Christmas, which will benefit the St. Helena Preschool for All.  And for the seventh year, I’m the lucky guy who gets to go to Napa Valley in December to photograph it all.

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favorites of 2018: the restaurant edition…

•January 20, 2019 • 2 Comments

Sole, bream, turbot.

Last year, I got pretty worked up about an insultingly bad meal I had in 2017.

This year I have no barns to burn; only good news to share.

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kansas city: talking food…

•January 16, 2019 • 1 Comment

Stenbider

Did you know that salmon not only find their way up rivers to spawn, but they’re able to find the specific feeder branch, upstream, where they hatched?   It’s amazing.

But in Norway, scientists have noticed that wild salmon are struggling to find their home streams. Wild salmon that have been tagged and tracked by marine biologists are showing up far off track in spawning season.  And it’s becoming a problem.

Scientists suspect the increasing population of farmed fish in the Norwegian fjords are partly to blame.  Not only have these caged fish introduced diseases to endemic species, but they may also be disorienting local salmon and interfering with their natural spawning cycles.  I first learned of this issue at a salmon hatchery in Norway in 2013, and wrote about it on this blog shortly thereafter.  Informative conversations, like this one, that I had with Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft during this trip inspired him to create and host a series of events at his restaurant Lysverket. He asked me if I would help him, and I eagerly agreed.  The Friends of Lysverket series would bring me back to Haatuft’s breathtakingly beautiful corner of the world more than a dozen times over three years to learn about the incredible culture and unique foodways of that region.

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favorite desserts of 2018…

•January 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Flan de Queso Fresco

I have little to add to the thoughts that I previously recorded about pastryland in 2016, and which I reiterated in 2017.

The majority of desserts I encounter in restaurants continues to be overwrought.  Sadly, excessive plating remains a popular style.  And pastry chefs haven’t lost their interest in unorthodox (sometimes bizarre) ingredients. In 2018, I had desserts made with mushrooms, plankton, caviar, and seaweed.  I’m not saying these ingredients can’t be successfully used in pastries (to the contrary, one of my favorite desserts last year incorporated caviar magnificently), but most attempts that I’ve encountered have been… challenging.  I wonder how much further pastry chefs will stretch concepts and comfort zones.

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favorite dishes of 2018…

•January 13, 2019 • 1 Comment

Sunchoke

Before I get on with telling you about my favorite whatnots from 2018, there’s something I’d like to discuss with you.  What follows is partly an explanation, partly an admission, and all of it a disclaimer.

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travel: field and stream… (2018)

•January 10, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Lord of the flies.

Some of my happiest moments in 2018 were spent waist-high in cold water.  On especially good days, the sun glinted off the rushing stream, and glistened at the seams of the slow-moving eddies and pools into which my mind swirled.  In those peaceful afternoons, tiny flies hung in the air like a thousand points of light, stirring hope from the deep.

I pulled trout from the crisp, mountain streams of Utah, and beautiful cod from the inky abyss of Greenlandic fjords.  In the mauvey glow of morning, with San Francisco twinkling in the distance, sea bass fought my line, only to be swiped clean off the hook by a seal waiting opportunistically nearby.

Mauvey morning.

But those were the highlights.  As any fisherman knows, with the good, there is plenty of bad: long days in the pouring rain, or set against gust and gale, casting into sound and fury.  I had plenty of those in 2018 too.

A seemingly endless day spent tracing the icy banks in the snowy expanse of Nevada yielded nothing.  The second day was just as hopeless. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains, we shrugged.  And, turning to each other to call the day, I watched the slack line suddenly go taught.  You just never know.

But the tally never mattered. What endure are the many scenes from 2018 set amidst field and stream, all of them spectacular. Despite the excruciatingly early mornings, creaky cots, mosquitos nets, and the sweaty miles squishing along in waders, the adventure was great. And I am grateful for every minute of it.

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12 days of christmas: kostow… (2018)

•December 31, 2018 • 1 Comment

5th Course: Salt-Baked Prime Rib

All of the guest chefs have left.  On the last night of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood – the 120th dinner, and my 72nd – the kitchen returned to the hosting chef Christopher Kostow and his team.

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