12 days: on the second day of christmas: mlinarevic… (2015)



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.


4th Course: Beef Cheek


As the name of his restaurant suggests, Mlinarevic’s cooking is precise.  His presentations are simple and clean. The colors on the plate are bright, and generally, his dishes were light.

At Focus, Mlinarevic only uses Swiss products, a testament to how resourceful he is given the breadth and depth of his menu.  Not able to maintain that sort of exclusivity in Napa, he did try to convey a sense of his homeland.

Into one of the canapés, he incorporated maluns, a traditional Swiss dish of grated potato tossed in flour and pan-fried in butter (it looks like a golden-brown love child of rösti and spætzle). Although it’s usually eaten with cheese and apple sauce, he served the crispy bits of potato here with trout roe, crème fraîche, and dill.

Another canapé that Mlinarevic served was a potato dumpling inside of which was a Swiss saucisson filling with leeks and mustard.


Nenad Mlinarevic


Both of Mlinarevic’s fish dishes were very light – an alabaster slice of ocean perch with salsify and mushroom; and a painterly, pastel plate of trout with an incredibly fragrant nasturtium cream rolled in a thin veil of shaved kohlrabi.

As at Focus, his meat dish at Twelve Days of Christmas was heftier, a meltingly soft fist of braised beef cheek with charred onions and tarragon.





The Restaurant at Meadowood has been serving a dish of whipped alpine cheese with roasted kuri squash glazed with black truffle honey.  I had it during regular service the night before the Twelve Days of Christmas started.  So, for this dinner with Mlinarevic, Kostow switched out the hard mountain cheese he had been using for Sbrinz, a specifically Swiss alpine cheese.

Perhaps the highlight of the night for me was a bowl of thinly sliced lardo stuffed with geoduck belly, rolled like a tortellini, and served with thinly sliced pieces geoduck and a broth of geoduck tinted with concentrated broccoli juice.  The geoduck was so silky, sweet, and clean that where the pork fat ended and the geoduck began I could not tell.


Day 2


Below, you’ll find the menu from the second night of the Twelve Days of Christmas featuring Nenad Mlinarevic.   To see all of the photos from this dinner, CLICK HERE.


Brown butter and black truffles.

Trout roe, dill, and crème fraîche.

Swiss Saucisson
Leek and mustard in a potato dumpling.



First Course 
Ocean Perch
Salsify, mushroom.

Second Course
Broccoli, caviar.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Third Course 
Kohlrabi, nasturtium.

Fourth Course 
Beef Cheek
Onion, tarragon. (Mlinarevic)

Fifth Course 
Alpine Cheese
Sbrinz with pumpkin, truffle, and honey.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Sixth Course 
Pear Sorbet
Roasted pear, pear molasses, malt, and yeast.

Seventh Course 
Black Walnut Marzipan
Preserved cherry, beet.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)


Joseph Phelps
Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Leo Steen Wines
Chenin Blanc, 2012

Brick and Mortar
Chardonnay, 2013

Enfield Wine Company
Syrah, 2013

Dunn Howell Mountain
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999


Day 2


Below are links to my posts and photos from all of the Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended over the past four 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)


Matthew Orlando (Amass; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Frank Castranovo & Frank Falcinelli (Frankies 457, Prime Meats; New York, New York)
Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf; Dranouter, Belgium)
Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère; La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France)
Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn; Lummi Island, Washington)
Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene’s; Portland, Oregon)
Virgilio Martinez (Central; Lima, Peru)
Grant Achatz (Alinea; Chicago, Illinois)
Corey Lee (Benu; San Francisco, California)
Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo; Oslo, Norway)
Ignacio Mattos (Estela; New York, New York)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad; New York, New York)
Nenad Mlinarevic (Focus; Vitznau, Switzerland)
Christian Puglisi (relæ; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil; Mexico City, Mexico)
Joshua Skenes (Saison; San Francisco, California)
Matthew Wilkinson (Pope Joan; Melbourne, Australia)
Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan ([One]; Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Isaac McHale (The Clove Club; London, The United Kingdom)
Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread; Healdsburg, California)
Atsushi Tanaka (A.T. Restaurant; Paris, France)
Justin Yu (Oxheart; Houston, Texas)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Photos: Nenad Mlinarevic in The Restaurant at Meadowood’s garden with head gardener Christine Kim; braised beef cheek with charred onion by Mlinarevic; Mlinarevic plating during service; Christopher Kostow at staff line-up with guest chef Nenad Mlinarevic and sous chef Miles Pundsack-Poe; Nenad Mlinarevic with the kitchen staff of The Restaurant at Meadowood; the wines paired with this dinner.

~ by ulterior epicure on December 8, 2015.

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