12 days: on the eleventh day of christmas… (kinch)

David Kinch and Christopher Kostow


“Lovely,” David Kinch sighed repeatedly as he walked through the hoop house at the The Restaurant at Meadowood’s garden, running his hands over trays of feathery herbs.  The head gardener here, Christine Kim, used to work at Love Apple Farm, a biodynamic garden with which Kinch partnered to grow produce for his restaurant, Manresa in Los Gatos, California.  Now, he admired her work here in Napa Valley. 

Kinch knows quality.  He understands it, and he appreciates it.  And for that, he has become one of our country’s most-respected chefs.  

Since I first ate at Manresa in 2006, I’ve seen his food evolve from having a more European influence to having a more Asian one.  Kinch brought a spectrum of these influences with him to the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  


5th Course: A Late Autumn Tidal Pool


There is a regular diner at Manresa who once suggested that Kinch try eating caviar with Brillat-Savarin cheese.  What seemed like an odd combination turned into a dish that Kinch served me at Manresa a few weeks ago, and then again on the eleventh night of the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  The cheese he turned into a creamy sauce, which was drizzled around crispy sunchoke skins and a generous spoonful of caviar.  It is an unlikely combination.  But, it’s an undeniably delicious one.

He also brought his “tidal pool” to Napa Valley.  This dish is an expression of the coast.  Regularly on the menu at Manresa, it changes with the seasons.  In this “late-autumn” version, there were meaty mushrooms, slivers of abalone, creamy sea urchin roe, and silky duck liver, all bathed in a warm, sea-rich broth brightened with fragrant yuzu.


David Kinch and Jessica Largey


Kinch’s game tourte caused quite a stir.

It was so unlike anything else he served, everyone noted.  This was classic, European cookery.  And yet, it was, perhaps, the dish that got the most votes (in my very unscientific polling).  

Kinch’s tourtes were formed into long logsvented with chimneys, and baked until golden-brown.  The tourtes were sliced into inch-thick slabs and served, simply, with some young greens and Agen prunes.

What impressed me most about Kinch’s tourte was the filling.  It contained three types of game meat (duck, deer, and pigeon), all of which was marinated in Armagnac and bound with a mix of duck liver and lots of black truffle.  The three meats were perfectly and uniformly cooked.  The tender, rosy nuggets of meat were suffused together such that, texturally, I could not tell where once piece ended and the next began.  From a technical standpoint, the filling was a masterpiece.

Amidst all the creativity and envelope-pushing of modern-day restaurant cookery, much of which is aimed at impressing an increasingly savvy dining public, it was wonderful to find a relic and reminder of the past provoke and thrill with as much excitement as this tourte did.


8th Course: Game Tourte


My two favorite dishes from Kostow’s side of the menu included a stunning aji escabeche with parsnip cream, and a straightforwardly delicious beef dish (bavette with fermented onions and grated Asian pear).

I also loved the sour cherry-chocolate “tart” that Kostow’s team served for dessert.  The “crust” of the tart was a frilly disc of chocolate feuilletine.  It was topped with preserved cherry purée and sour cherry “dippin dots.”

This dinner was book-ended by David Kinch’s madeleine and pâté de fruit duo (which bookends every dinner at Manresa).  As a canapé, Kinch served black olive madeleines with red pepper pâté de fruit at the beginning of dinner.  At the end, he served chocolate madeleines and strawberry pâté de fruit as petits fours.


9th Course: Chocolate-Cherry Tart


The entire menu from David Kinch’s dinner, with wine pairings by the guest vintner Malbec & Malbec is below, along with a slideshow from the eleventh day of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  If you would like to see the photos in a larger size, click through the slideshow to the Flickr album.



Chestnut “Truffles”
(David Kinch)

Scallop Chips
(David Kinch)

Black Olive Madeleines
(David Kinch)

Red Pepper Pâté de Fruit
(David Kinch)

Marinated Beef Nuggets
Shiitake mushrooms.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

1st Course

Brillat-Savarin, caviar.
(David Kinch)

Alienor Sauvignon Blanc
Lake County, 2010

2nd Course
Aji Winter Escabeche
Parsnip cream.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

3rd Course
Oyster in Seaweed-Citrus Ice
(David Kinch)

4th Course
Potato Cooked in Beeswax
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Alienor “Grand Vin”
Lake County, 2008

5th Course
A Late Autumn Tidal Pool
(David Kinch)

6th Course
Chilled Pork Broth
Juiced lettuce, mustard.
(David Kinch)

7th Course
Fermented onion, Asian pear.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Notre Vin “Clos Camille”
Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast, 2008

8th Course
Game Tourte
Black truffle.
(David Kinch)

Notre Vin Cabernet Sauvignon
Howell Mountain, 2004

9th Course
Chocolate-Cherry Tart
Preserved cherries.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Alienor “Luna de Miel”
Late-Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
Lake County, 2010

10th Course
Petits Fours
Strawberry pâté de fruit, chocolate madeleines.
(David Kinch)


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Photos: David Kinch and Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood’s garden at the Montessori School of St. Helena; plating Kinch’s Late-Autumn Tidal Pool; David Kinch and Jessica Largey plating sunchokes with caviar and Brillat-Savarin; David Kinch slicing game tourte; chocolate-cherry “tart.”

~ by ulterior epicure on December 26, 2013.

One Response to “12 days: on the eleventh day of christmas… (kinch)”

  1. brilliant. speaking of tourtes, the one from saison is my dish of the year, but dont tell anyone! countdown going on instagram still J

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