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

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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Back together again, and it feels so good.

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Unlike many of their peers, both Floresca and Ryan have a solid background in classical cooking, as well as a legitimate stake at the frontier of modernest cuisine. You’ll find this duality reflected in their cooking, which uses traditional techniques to leverage creative, out-of-the-box thinking.

They’ll take familiar classics, and make them anew, unexpected.  Dutch stroopwafels, for example, they filled with creamy foie gras instead of caramel (which I never liked anyway, because it always sticks to my teeth).   They also used foie gras to make the dough for their version of the Fig Newton.  The filling was made from figs and black truffles.  It was rich.  It was great.  Both of these were served as canapés.

Sometimes, their food reminds you of other things, and yet are entirely different.  Their potato dumplings, for example, were boiled first before frying, giving them a distinctly pretzel-like chew. These dumplings were split in half and topped with crème fraîche and caviar.  You’ve seen all of these ingredients together before, but not quite like this.

Daniel Ryan’s desserts are just as creative. His version of “red velvet” at this dinner included adzuki beans, peanuts, and clabbered milk.  It was red.  And it was velvety.  But that’s about all it had in common with the more familiar dessert by the same name.

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8th Course: "Red Velvet"

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Unexpected, but delicious was the theme of this dinner.

Kostow presented silky spot prawns with their “shells,” which were actually house-made prawn crackers.  They were ultra-crispy and packed a lot of flavor.  They were terrific.

Floresca and Ryan presented roasted rutabaga, carved into perfect spheres, coated in a milky “butterscotch” sauce, described to me as caramelized lactose.  They also served broccoli dumplings – like gnudi, but firmer – on a bed of field peas that had been fried until crispy and mixed with spices associated with the everything bagel (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion, and dried garlic).  That was great too.

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6th Course: Lamb Best Ends & Bits

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One of the highlights of this dinner was a plate of four cuts of lamb – the heart, the tongue, a morcilla sausage, and a piece that Floresca called “lamb SPAM.”  These “best ends and bits” were served over a bed of Carolina gold rice and tented with a crispy sheet of moorish kale.  Although the rice was cooked a bit too soft for my liking, the fragrance of it, together with the crispiness of the kale and the super-flavorful cuts of lamb, were terrific. This course was a little postcard from the couple’s new home in the South.  (The lamb was from Border Springs Farm in Virginia.  I’ve had Craig Rogers’s lamb numerous times before, including at the Twelve Days of Christmas, when Ashley Christiansen presented lamb cassoulet two years ago, and most recently at Music to Your Mouth in South Carolina, where he cooked lamb ribs over the fire and glazed them with honey.)

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4th Course: Black Cod

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Kostow roasted beautiful pumpkins over the coals and presented them table side. The hot, steaming flesh was scooped from the gourds and spooned over bowls of black tea jelly and sheep’s milk yogurt.

Kostow also revived one of my favorite dishes from The Restaurant at Meadowood.  He coated strips of black cod with a powder of dried sunflower petals, and then basted them with hot oil until they were buttery and glowing-yellow.  He served the fish with a piece of pickled sunflower choke (from the blossom, not the root) and a creamy dollop of sunflower seed butter.  I love this dish.

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3rd Course: Coal-Roasted Pumpkin

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One of the most visually stunning and unique desserts I’ve had at The Restaurant at Meadowood was served this night.  It was, simply, a scoop of lily bulb ice cream topped with candied lily petals that were so thin and crispy, they shattered with a light tap of the spoon.  It was like eating Frosted Flakes cereal with ice cream, but with a faint, lily fragrance.  This was beautiful.

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Pairings.

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Below, you’ll find the menu from the seventh night of the Twelve Days of Christmas featuring Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan.   To see all of the photos from this dinner, CLICK HERE.

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Canapés
Venison Tartare
Watermelon radish, oxalis, crème fraîche.

Potato Dumplings
Caviar, crème fraîche.

Foie Gras “Stroopwafel”

“Foie Newtons”
Fig, foie gras, black truffle.

(Floresca & Ryan)

First Course 
Spot Prawn and Its Shell
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Second Course
Rutabaga
“Butterscotch,” vegetable jus.
(Floresca & Ryan)

Third Course 
Coal-Roasted Pumpkin
Black tea jelly, sheep’s milk yogurt.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Fourth Course 
Black Cod
Cooked in sunflower.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Fifth Course 
Broccoli Dumplings
Chevre, “everything” field peas.
(Floresca & Ryan)

Sixth Course 
Lamb “Best Ends and Bits”
Carolina gold rice, moorish kale.
(Floresca & Ryan)

Seventh Course 
Lily Bulb
Lily bulb ice cream, candied lily petals.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Eighth Course 
“Red Velvet”
Adzuki bean, peanut, clabbered milk.
(Floresca & Ryan)

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Abrente
Albarino, 2014

Hourglass
Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

Hudson
Chardonnay, 2013

Matthiasson
Cabernet Franc, 2013

Joseph Phelps
“Insignia,” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005

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Managers.

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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 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).

2012

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)

2013

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)

2014

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)

2015

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)

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Photos: Coating balls of rutabaga with “butterscotch” made of caramelized lactose; Daniel Ryan, Kim Floresca, and Christopher Kostow at line-up; venison tartare with watermelon radish, oxalis, and crème fraîche; Frederico MacMaster scooping out coal-roasted pumpkin table-side; Nathaniel Dorn saucing Border Springs Farm lamb best ends and bits; basting black cod with hot sunflower-infused oil; the wine pairings; current executive sous chef Katianna Hong with former pastry chef Daniel Ryan and former executive sous chef Kim Floresca.

~ by ulterior epicure on December 25, 2015.

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