12 days: on the first day of christmas: orlando (2014)

~ Kicking off the seventh annual Twelve Days of Christmas with hosting chef Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood a couple of nights ago, an event with which I have been a part since 2012, was Matthew Orlando, chef and owner of Amass in Copenhagen, and Jonata and The Hilt wineries.  [To read more about this collaborative […]



Kicking off the seventh annual Twelve Days of Christmas with hosting chef Christopher Kostow at The Restaurant at Meadowood a couple of nights ago, an event with which I have been a part since 2012, was Matthew Orlando, chef and owner of Amass in Copenhagen, and Jonata and The Hilt wineries.  [To read more about this collaborative dinner series hosted by Kostow at his three Michelin-starred restaurant at Meadowood Napa Valley, refer to the restaurant’s website.  You may also read about all 24 dinners from the past two years on this blog.  I have provided a full inventory of the dinners from 2012 and 2013 at the bottom of this post.]

In keeping with the last two years, I plan to post short recaps of each of this year’s twelve dinners here, with a slideshow of photos.




Orlando’s cooking career began, in the coastal kitchens of his home state of California, merely as an accessory to a life of snowboarding and skateboarding.  Since then, he has recorded some meaningful time in two celebrated kitchens.  He spent three years cooking at Per Se in New York (straddling both Jonathan Benno’s and Eli Kaimeh’s tenures). And, more recently, he spent five years in the kitchen at Noma in Copenhagen, where I first met him in February, 2013.  It was his last week at the restaurant as chef de cuisine, and it was his day off.  So he came in and joined my friends and me for dessert at the end of our meal.  He told us about his own restaurant, which he opened later that summer in a nearby warehouse.

Earlier this year, in September, I had the opportunity to visit his restaurant, Amass, a cavernous space with big, picture windows framing a field outside, which runs along the banks of the Copenhagen canal.  (You’ll find photos from my dinner at Amass on my Flickr account.)


Fermented Potato Bread


As in past years, Paolo Lucchesi at the San Francisco Chronicle will be interviewing all of the chefs cooking at this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas.  You’ll find his interview with Orlando on his blog, Inside Scoop, where Orlando briefly described his approach to his collaboration with Kostow for this dinner.

Quite a few of Orlando’s dishes at the Twelve Days of Christmas were adapted from ones that I had at Amass, like aged carrots encrusted with crispy bits of caramelized yogurt; and potato bread served with a spicy, vegetable condiment (at Amass, the condiment was made from pickled cabbage; at the Twelve Days of Christmas, he used kale and Calabrian chiles). The bread dough, made from fermented potatoes, was formed into thick discs, quickly grilled to set the shape, brushed with butter, and finished in the oven.  The bread was quite dense, but very moist on the inside.  The outside was dusty with char marks, with a slight hint of smoke from the grill.  Served warm, it was incredibly comforting.

Instead of pork neck and apples under a canopy of kale, he served venison with pears topped with a rainbow of chard. And adapting my favorite dish from my dinner at Amass to the ingredients available in Napa Valley, Orlando switched out crosnes* for aged beets in a dish that also included dried plums, warm almond oil, and a dusting of black limes.  As with the original, this dish was was an phenomenal meeting of flavors and textures.

At Amass, I had a terrific salad of lettuces with “croutons” made from compressed layers of chicken skin.  At this dinner, Orlando tossed those chicken skin “croutons” with chopped scallops to a make a delicious filling for a “dolmade” wrapped in young, tender beet greens.  This was served as a canapé.


1st Course: Buckwheat-Cured Trout


Kostow’s team presented two canapés and three courses, two of which put twists on skin.  One dish presented a gorgeous piece of cured sea trout with a super-crisp “skin” made of buckwheat and vegetable ash.  The fish was served with a baby turnip and a creamy sauce made with turnip tops.

The other dish featured slices of beautifully cooked roulade of guinea fowl stuffed with black truffles.  The hen was wrapped in a thin sheet of yuba, and then fried to crisp the tofu wrapper to mimic the fowl’s “skin.”  The slices were blanketed with paper-thin coins of king trumpet mushrooms, and drizzled with a rich reduction of  guinea jus.


Jonata and The Hilt


Below, you’ll find the menu from the first night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with Matthew Orlando, with wines by Jonata and The Hilt.  Following the menu, you’ll find a slideshow of all of the photos that I took at this dinner.


Scallop, Chicken Skin
Wrapped in beet leaves.

Black garlic chip.
(Matthew Orlando)

Sunchoke Chip
Sunchoke purée, trout roe, and sea lettuce.

Lardo, bean.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)


First Course 
Buckwheat-Cured Trout
Crisp buckwheat “skin,” radish.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Second Course
Buttermilk, pickled Douglas fir, sour curd.
(Matthew Orlando)

Third Course 
Rye porridge
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Fourth Course 
Red seaweed, plum, almond oil, and black lime.
(Matthew Orlando)

Fifth Course 
Guinea Hen
Black truffle, soy.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Sixth Course 
Walnut, pear, rainbow chard.
(Matthew Orlando)

Seventh Course 
Parsnip, dark chocolate.
(Matthew Orlando)

Eighth Course 
Caramel Ice Cream
Fried candy cap, chestnuts, and cep oil.
(Matthew Orlando)


Jonata “Flor”
White Wine, 2012 

The Hilt “Old Guard”
Chardonnay, 2012 

The Hilt “Vanguard”
Pinot Noir, 2011

Jonata “El Alma”
Red Wine, 2009

Jonata “La Sangre”
Syrah, 2009


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Below are links to my posts and photos from all of the Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended over the past three years at the Restaurant at Meadowood.  Each chef is listed with the restaurant with which they were cooking at the time they participated in the event (some have moved on to other projects and restaurants).


Scott Anderson (Elements; Princeton, New Jersey)
John & Karen Shields (Formerly of Townhouse; Chilhowie, Virginia)
Phillip Foss (EL Ideas; Chicago, Illinois)
Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions; San Francisco, California)
Jason Franey (Canlis Restaurant; Seattle, Washinton)
Matthias Merges (Yusho; Chicago, Illinois)
Mori Onodera (Formerly of Mori Sushi; Los Angeles, California)
James Syhabout (Commis; Oakland, California)
Nick Anderer (Maialino; New York, New York)
David Toutain (Agapé Substance; Paris, France)
Josh Habiger & Erik Anderson (The Catbird Seat; Nashville Tennessee)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon & New York, New York)
Rodolfo Guzman (Boragó; Santiago, Chile)
Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca and Roberta’s; Brooklyn, New York)
Tim Cushman (O Ya; Boston, Massachusetts)
Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner; Raleigh, North Carolina)
David Chang (Momofuku; New York, New York)
Matthew Accarrino (SPQR; San Francisco, California)
Mark Ladner & Brooks Headley (Del Posto; New York, New York)
Rasmus Kofoed (Geranium; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine; San Francisco, California)
David Kinch (Manresa; Los Gatos, California)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


* Orlando told me that the original version of this dish that I had at Amass was created rather spontaneously, when his gardner’s successful experiment with growing crosnes yielded a small batch, only enough for about 20 portions.

Categories 12 days 2014

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