12 days of christmas: enrique… (2018)

– For six years now, I’ve had the pleasure of dining at The Restaurant at Meadowood the night before the first night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with the first guest chef of the holiday series.  Not only does that meal telegraph some of what is to come from the Meadowood kitchen in the […]


For six years now, I’ve had the pleasure of dining at The Restaurant at Meadowood the night before the first night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with the first guest chef of the holiday series.  Not only does that meal telegraph some of what is to come from the Meadowood kitchen in the subsequent weeks – it serves as a test run and offers a preview of what chef Christopher Kostow and his team are developing – but it’s an opportunity for me to get to know a chef who I may not know well. It’s one of my favorite parts of getting to photograph the Twelve Days of Christmas.

This year, I had the double pleasure of meeting and eating with Jose Enrique (Day 1) and David Pynt, who had arrived early from Singapore (Day 2).

I have known of Puerto Rican chef Jose Enrique for years, but have never visited his eponymous restaurant in the Caribbean (the last time I was in Puerto Rico was 1986).

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria (2017), Enrique, along with chef José Andrés (who is celebrated for spearheading much of the relief efforts) and many others, donated his time, resources, and energy to feeding the people of Puerto Rico, many of whom were without electricity, water, and food.  Because he had a gas tank in his restaurant, Enrique was able to start cooking immediately after the storm – first feeding friends and family, then his neighborhood, and, as relief aide started to arrive, he participated in the effort to feed tens of thousands who were need. This big-heartedness is projected into the big-hearted flavors he creates.

Enrique does not contort Puerto Rican cuisine into something stark and modern. To the contrary, his menu at the Twelve Days of Christmas consisted of simple and honest representations of his native, Caribbean home cookery.  And we were rewarded by his faithfulness with an immensely soulful dinner.

7th Course: Asopao

My favorite dish of the night was Enrique’s asopao.  Like most hangover food, this comforting rice porridge is traditionally a hodgepodge of leftovers. Enrique’s version for the Twelve Days of Christmas included pork and chicken sausages, onion, garlic, tomato, capers, and turmeric, which Enrique says grows all over the island.

I also loved the empanadillas that The Restaurant at Meadowood served as a canapé.  This version of the Puerto Rican fried pockets were filled with cod collar, potato, and sofrito.

“Sweetened condensed milk is God’s gift to mankind,” Enrique said.  He used it to make a rich coconut ice cream, which he served with avocado and a brulée of grapefruit.  It sounds a bit strange, but was incredibly delicious.

The importance of rum to Puerto Rico cannot be overstated.  In fact, at dinner on the night before the Twelve Days of Christmas, chef Pynt asked Enrique what he thought was the greatest challenge to cooking in Puerto Rico. Comically, but not entirely joking, Enrique replied, “rum.”  So, Enrique ended the meal with coquito – often referred to as Puerto Rican eggnog, this creamy, rum-spiked drink contains no egg.  After dinner, guests were also offered Don Q Gran Añejo rum as an after-dinner drink.

Following is the entire menu from the first night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with chef Jose Enrique.  Here is a link to all of the photos.

Christopher Kostow and Jose Enrique


Fish Water

Foie gras, almonds

(Jose Enrique)

Cod collar, potato, sofrito,
dusted with seaweed.

(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

1st Course
Caviar and Beans
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

2nd Course
Local almond.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

3rd Course
Blood Sausage
Potato, onions.
(Jose Enrique)

4th Course
Creole sauce, watercress.
(Jose Enrique)

5th Course 
Black Cod Escabeche
(Jose Enrique)

6th Course
Hog Maw
Carrot purée.
(Jose Enrique)

7th Course
(Jose Enrique)

8th Course
Avocado, Grapefruit Brulée
Coconut, condensed milk.
(Jose Enrique)

9th Course
Our Chocolate Kefir
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

10th Course
(Jose Enrique)

Roasted Chestnuts and Don Q Gran Añejo Rum

Wine pairings.

Wine Pairing

Tablas Creek Vineyard “Esprit Blanc,” 2015

Albert Grivault, Meursault Perrieres, 2016

Domaine Perrot-Minot, Morey-Saint-Denis, 2012

Domaine Vincent Paris, Cornas, 2015

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999

Day 1

Below are links to my posts and photos from all Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended. 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)


Mark Lundgaard Nielsen(Kong Hans Kælder; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Manish Mehrotra(Indian Accents; New Dehli, India; New York, New York; London, U.K.)
Jeremiah Stone & Fabián von Hauske Valtierra(Contra & Wildair; New York, New York)
Jeremy Fox(Rustic Canyon & Tallula’s; Santa Monica, California)
Ben Sukle(birch & Oberlin; Providence, Rhode Island)
Sean Brock(McCrady’s, McCrady’s Tavern, Husk, & Minero; Charleston, South Carolina)
Yoshiaki Takazawa (Takazawa; Tokyo, Japan)
Thomas Keller(The French Laundry; Yountville, California)
Eric Werner(Hartwood; Tulum, Mexico)
Jock Zonfrillo(Orana; Adelaide, Australia)
Alexandre Couillon(La Marine; Noirmoutier, France)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Jose Enrique (Jose Enrique; San Juan, Puerto Rico)


Day 1

Photos: Don Q Gran Añejo, offered to guests as an after-dinner drink; frying cod for Enrique’s dish of black cod with escabeche; caviar and beans by The Restaurant at Meadowood; Enrique’s asopao; Enrique’s dessert of avocado and grapefruit; The Restaurant at Meadowood’s dessert of kefir, chocolate, and fig; Christopher Kostow and Jose Enrique; wine pairings; Jose Enrique and the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood; a final parting gift – The Restaurant at Meadowood’s own apple brandy and caramels, plus the night’s menu.

Categories 12 days 2018

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