12 days of christmas: atsumi… (2018)

– I’ve had two excellent meals at Clown Bar, and my enthusiasm for that restaurant has been recorded on this blog (here, and here, and here again). This beautifully preserved bistro is in the 11eme of Paris, just next to the Cirque d’Hiver.  I regret not having gone earlier, as I’m sure I missed many […]


I’ve had two excellent meals at Clown Bar, and my enthusiasm for that restaurant has been recorded on this blog (here, and here, and here again). This beautifully preserved bistro is in the 11eme of Paris, just next to the Cirque d’Hiver.  I regret not having gone earlier, as I’m sure I missed many great meals there.

The chef was Sota Atsumi, and this year, he is the answer to the question that I was asked so often: Which of this year’s guest chefs at the Twelve Days of Christmas are you most excited to see cooking at The Restaurant at Meadowood?  Atsumi was the eleventh chef to cook with hosting chef Christopher Kostow in this year’s series.

Late last year, the Japanese-born chef announced that he was leaving Clown Bar to open his own restaurant.  Maison, expected to open by mid-2019, will be near the Clown Bar, also in the 11eme of Paris.

In the garden.

Astumi’s cooking is firmly anchored in the foundations of classical cooking. But what I particularly love about it is how masterfully he weaves in other cultural sentiments. His are not the grotesque, hybrid creatures that plague “fusion” cooking.  For the most part, Atsumi’s food remains recognizably Continental, even if the flavors and presentations aren’t necessarily so.

There was, for example, a fillet of halibut presented, as he described it to me, “en papillote,” wrapped in a Japanese hoba leaf that he sweated over the grill to bring out its fragrance.  The pistachio pesto sauce spooned over the fish was so gently laced with Szechuan peppercorn that it took me a few bites to feel the tingle.

Sometime’s he goes completely off-road, like the first course he served at this dinner: caviar with a purée of finger bananas spiked with the high acidity of yuzu.  It was a completely unexpected combination of flavors.  But, it was, from what I could tell, a house hit.

And sometimes he sticks close to the classics. Celebrated for his game pithiviers, Atsumi made a vegetable version for this dinner, interleaving thin slices of celeriac with black truffle.  These were molded in long terrine logs. Slices of this pithivier were served piping-hot with a meat jus and stalks of lightly charred hay. My only complaint about this course is that it was too small; I could have eaten a whole log of this.  It was fantastic.

(Atsumi was the second chef who served veal tongue with oysters.)

Atsumi produced so many courses – one canapé, nine courses, and two desserts – that The Restaurant at Meadowood limited its side of the menu to two courses.

Kostow’s cooking dovetails well with Atsumi’s.  Like Atsumi, Kostow’s cooking is solidly grounded in classic techniques. And like Atsumi, having mastered the fundamentals, Kostow ably explores abroad.

For this dinner, Kostow pulled out two terrific dishes, both quite traditional. One of them has been, annually for quite a few years, one of my favorite dishes at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  Mackerel is a cranky fish that Kostow tames well in his various versions of escabeche. The one he served this night was excellent.

Earlier in the day, I arrived in the kitchen to chef de cuisine John Hong elbow-deep in an open bladder.  Next to him was a mound of pig bladders, all stuffed with poussins.  These birds were presented table side, still en vessie. The breasts were carved out onto plates, sauced, and per tradition, served with a side of rice (with local matsutake). This too was excellent.

Sous chef Jacqueline Dasha spent a good part of her day at the sheeter. In between runs, she generously coated the slab of buttery dough with sugar. Lots of sugar.  She was making kouign amann, the caramelized Breton rosettes that have recently become popular among American audiences. This was one of Atsumi’s two desserts. He served these little sugar bombs with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Following, you’ll find the entire menu from the eleventh night of the Twelve Days of Christmas with guest chef Sota Atsumi, who will be opening Maison in Paris, France in 2019.  Here is a link to all of the photos from this dinner.

En vessie. 11th Course: Aged Beef Steak


Foie Gras and Chestnut


1st Course
Yuzu, Banana, Caviar

2nd Course
Bluefin Tuna and Eggplant Mille-Feuille

3rd Course
Sea urchin, hazelnut purée.

4th Course 
Salted Mackerel
Vegetable escabeche.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

5th Course
Celery Root and Black Truffle Pithivier

6th Course
Beet Ice Cream
Smoked eel, red onion.

7th Course
Calf’s Tongue
Chile ancho, oyster.

8th Course
Fermented Mushroom Soup
Homemade butter.

9th Course
Pistachio mustard, wrapped in hoba.

10th Course
Poussin en Vessie
White truffle; California rice with local matsutake.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

11th Course
Aged Beef
Sucrine, Comte, gribiche.

12th Course
Pear Soup
Parsley granité, panna cotta.

13th Course
Kouign Amann
Vanilla ice cream, citrus.

Warm Chestnuts
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Wine pairings.

Wine Pairing

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris, Clos Saint Urbain, Rangen de Thann, 2013

Julien Pilon “Milésime”, Condrieu, 2015

Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne

Martinelli Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2015

La Rioja Alta, S.A. Gran Reserva 904, Cosecha, 2007

Spottswoode Cabertnet Sauvignon 2005

Day 11: Atsumi

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)
Ana Ros (Hiša Franko; Kobarid, Slovenia)
Sota Atsumi (Maison, opening in 2019; Paris, France)


Photos: Beet ice cream with smoked eel and red onion; Atsumi in the garden; Atsumi plating halibut on hoba leaf; Atsumi at the stove; Atsumi’s bluefin tuna with eggplant “mille-feuille;” Atsumi finishing a plate of beef; Kostow presenting the poussin en vessie; Daniel Kim at the Josper; wine pairings; chef Atsumi with Kostow and the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood; Sam Cheol translating on behalf of chef Atsumi; Atsumi egg washing celery root and truffle pithiviers.



Categories 12 days 2018 dessert dining michelin restaurant

Leave a Reply