12 days of christmas: kostow (2019)

Frying trout skin.

The last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a tangle of excitement and exhaustion that is well-documented in previous years on this blog (a complete, hyperlinked list of every single dinner since 2012 can be found at the bottom of this post).  For the cooks there’s the afterglow of having hosted eleven guest chefs, and the relief of having the kitchen back to themselves. There’s the anticipation of the busiest night of the series – seats at this finalé, starring host chef Christopher Kostow and his kitchen team, reliably sell out faster than any other night. And there are goodbyes put on hold, while every corner is deep-cleaned in preparation for the restaurant’s brief holiday closure.

For the young and new, it is an initiation to a ritual cherished by those who, like me,  have been there before.  However unslept and longing for home, in these final hours, I always harbor a sadness that another magical December in Napa – this, my seventh – draws to a close.

This year, on the twelfth night, Christopher Kostow marked his 132nd dinner of the Twelve Days of Christmas at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

6th Course: Stuffed Quail 3rd Course: Charlie's Cheese

For years now, Kostow has used the last night to showcase his cooks.  The menu is a culmination of weeks of brainstorming, trials and errors, and an abundance of delicious triumphs.

If you watch closely throughout each year’s Twelve Days of Christmas, you’ll find hints and glimmers of the final menu embedded in the first eleven dinners.

Butter clam – a canapé on the twelfth night – with ourzak seasoning and celery had appeared in various iterations throughout this year’s series, as did the “last bites,” a changing carousel of fruit candies, which, on this final night, included quince pâté de fruit, braided cherry “Twizzlers,” and chocolate “figs.”

Other dishes were saved just for this last dinner, like the one showcasing gorgeous Oxheart carrots from the restaurant’s garden. These elephantine roots were presented as meaty slabs of “prime rib,” alongside creamy horseradish and buttery crumpets.  It was soulful and playful; a surprisingly convincing proxy.

6th Course: Stuffed Quail Lydia Lee

There were two highlights for me.

I have long-admired Kostow’s way with fowl. The stuffed quail he presented this night was no exception to his record.  Each plate had a half of a stuffed breast with California rice (a shorter, softer grain) and some gravy. All of it was blanketed with white truffles, shaved table side.  It was a comforting tuck, simple yet exquisite.

The other dish that really caught my imagination was Jacqueline Dasha’s version of poire tapée. This is an ancient technique from the Loire Valley in which pears are cored and dehydrated near a fire, flattened, and then rehydrated (often with wine, or in syrup).  Dasha’s modified version had the fleshy pears flambéed in dark caramel and spooned warm over bees wax ice cream.

4th Course: Black Cod Flambé

This is the menu from Day 12 of the Twelve Days of Christmas by Christopher Kostow and his team a The Restaurant at Meadowood (click here for all of the photos from this dinner):


Chestnut Beignet
Miso, black truffle.

Grilled Butter Clam
Ourzak, celeries.

1st Course
Smoked Trout
Persimmon, trout roe,
fermented onion, yogurt.

2nd Course
Dungeness Crab
Turnip, fresh pecan oil.

3rd Course
Charlie’s Cheese
Crispy bread, caviar.

4th Course
Black Cod
Steamed in mustard greens, cultured butter.

5th Course
Oxheart Carrot “Prime Rib”
Horseradish cream, crumpets.

6th Course
Stuffed Quail
California rice, white truffle.

7th Course
Pork Collar
Sour cherry, black olives.

8th Course
Sunchoke Trifle
Russian apple.

9th Course
Tapée Pear
Beeswax ice cream.

10th Course
“Last Bites”
Quince pâté de fruit, sunchoke macarons,
chocolate “figs,” cherry “Twizzlers,” and citrus.

Wine pairings.

Peter Jakob Kühn, Riesling Kabinett, 2018

Gemina, 2017

Domaine de Saint-Just, Brézé

Ramey Chardonnay, Ritchie Vineyard, 2016


La Guiraude, Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot, 2016

Shafer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap, 1993

Day 12

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)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Gabriela Camara (Contramar; Mexico City, Mexico/Cala; San Francisco, California)
John and Karen Shields (Smyth, and The Loyalist; Chicago, Illinois)
Daniel Calvert (Belon; Hong Kong)
José Avillez (Belcanto; Lisbon, Portugal)
Junghyun Park (atomix and atoboy; New York, New York)
Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi; London, The United Kingdom)
Nicolai Nørregaard (kadeau; Bornholm and Copenhagen, Denmark)
Brady Williams (Canlis; Seattle, Washington)
Jeremy Charles (Raymonds; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Canada)
Malcolm Lee (Candlenut; Singapore)
Val Cantu (Californios; San Francisco, California)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)

The Twelfth Night

Photos: Daniel Kim frying trout skin; Jacqueline Dasha shaving white truffle; caviar and crispy bread with Charlie’s cheese; stuffed quail with rice; Lydia Lee on mop duty; black cod with mustard greens; Tyler Bentley and poires tapée flambée, wine pairings; the staff at The Restaurant at Meadowood; the dining room at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

~ by ulterior epicure on May 6, 2020.

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