12 days of christmas: tusk… (2018)

– There are few chefs I know who can and will hand-make pasta on-the-road at events.  Michael Tusk is one of them.  He’s the chef and owner of the wildly popular Cotogna and three Michelin-starred restaurant Quince, both in the Jackson Square neighborhood of San Francisco.  He’s about to open a cave à vin and […]


There are few chefs I know who can and will hand-make pasta on-the-road at events.  Michael Tusk is one of them.  He’s the chef and owner of the wildly popular Cotogna and three Michelin-starred restaurant Quince, both in the Jackson Square neighborhood of San Francisco.  He’s about to open a cave à vin and specialty food market – Verjus – also nearby.

At this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood, he was the ninth chef to cook with Christopher Kostow.

Having a flair for opulence and an eye for elegance (an art history major, Tusk, along with his wife Lindsay, who helps manage both restaurants, has turned Quince not only into one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, but a gallery for their collection of modern art), Michael Tusk and his team produced some of the most luxurious and beautiful courses of this year’s series – like a stunning tartlet filled with pumpkin purée and paved over with nearly an ounce of osetra caviar.  This was topped with dollops of whipped smoked eel cream and gilded with gold leaf.  There was also an immensely comforting bowl of Aquarello Carnaroli risotto that was mounted with sea urchin butter, crowned with a medallion of spiny lobster tail, and ringed with more sea urchin.

But his dishes weren’t just beautiful.  In my opinion, Tusk’s dishes were also some of the most delicious guest chef dishes of the series.  Strongly anchored in classical cooking, they played to my preferences.

To begin, there was a tasty little green biscuit made from wild nettles filled with honey and foie gras. That was fantastic.  And Tusk’s squab course – a slice of pigeon breast layered with black truffles, plus a thigh – was, as we joked, very “squabby.” In other words, it was squab-lover’s squab dish.  I’m a squab-lover.

And, of course, there was pastatortellini, fatto a mano (made by hand). Filled with suckling pig meat, these little dumplings were served in warm brodo and topped with shaved Perigord truffles.

To complement Tusks’s style, The Restaurant at Meadowood served two equally beautiful courses.  There was sole wrapped in cover crops and steamed. The packet was unbundled and plated at the table, the emerald greens glowing against the alabaster fillet.

Kostow’s prime rib was as rich and flavorful as the sole was delicate. Cured with koji, the beef needed little more than the sauce that accompanied it to the table.

Yannick Dumonceau, formerly the pastry chef of the three Michelin-starred temple l’Ambroisie in Paris, is now the pastry chef at Cotogna and Quince.  And he brings with him all the sophistication of French pastryland.

For the Twelve Days of Christmas, he fabricated thin sugar glass “boules,” which he drove up from the city with care.  He filled these golden orbs with a variety of winter citruses in different textures, and sealed each one with a generous piping of whipped cream, topped with candied citrus peel and some gold leaf.  Accompanying his dessert, The Restaurant at Meadowood sent out a gorgeous tray of after-dinner sweets – citrus custard, angelica cookies, and a tea of citrus peel and angelica.

Following is the entire menu from the ninth night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with chef Michael Tusk of Cotogna, the three Michelin-starred Quince, and the soon-to-open Verjus, all of which are in San Francisco, California.  Here is a link to all of the photos.


Wild Nettle Biscuit
Honey, foie gras.

Beet “Tramezzini”

Black Radish
Dungeness crab.


1st Course
Fresh Run Farm Pumpkin
Golden osetra caviar, smoked eel.

2nd Course
Aquarello Carnaroli Risotto
Sea urchin, spiny lobster, “carboncino de pane.”

3rd Course
Local Sole
Cover crop, smoked wing rillettes.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

4th Course 
Suckling Pig Tortellini “Fatto a Mano”
Perigord black truffle brodo.

5th Course
Paine Farm Squab
Red cabbage, black chestnut, local porcini mushroom.

6th Course
Aged “Prime Rib”
Koji, nasturtium.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

7th Course
Winter Citrus “Boule”
Clementine, passion fruit, cara cara orange.

Citrus Custard
Angelica Cookies
Tea of Citrus and Angelica
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Warm Chestnuts
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)


Wine Pairing

Chappellet Chenin Blanc, 2017

Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Pinot Gris, Clos. Saint Urbain, 2013

Quintodecimo “Exultet,” 2016

Pio Cesare Barbaresco, 2010

Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 1990

Day 9

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)
David Pynt (Burnt Ends; Singapore)
Jessica Largey (Simone; Los Angeles, California)
James Lowe (Lyle’s; London, The United Kingdom)
Kamilla Seidler (formerly of Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Byung-jin Kim (Gaon; Seoul, South Korea)
Wojciech Modest Amaro (Atelier Amaro; Warsaw, Poland)
Justin Cogley (Auberine; Carmel, California) & Trevor Moran (Nashville, Tennessee)
Michael Tusk (Cotogna and Quince; San Francisco, California)

5th Course: Suckling Pig Tortellini

Photos: Zac Yoder taking Michael Tusk through The Restuarant at Meadowood’s Farm, Tusk’s pumpkin tartlets with caviar; Tusk shaving black truffles over tortellini in brodo; Aquarello Carnaroli risotto with sea urchin and spiny lobster; Neil Stetz basting squab; saucing Kostow’s aged prime rib; saucing Kostow’s steamed sole with cover crop; Quince’s pastry chef Yannick Dumonceau finishing one of his winter citrus “boules,” citrus and angelica tea service; wine pairings; Michael Tusk and the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood; suckling pig tortellini in brodo; the menu for Day 9.

Day 9: Tusk
Categories 12 days 2018

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