Manresa

Chef David Kinch is just getting better and better. His tasting menu labeled  “The Winter Garden” was masterful. This is not a haphazard selection of carelessly chosen courses. In fact it is the exact opposite. Chef Kinch’s tasting menu is carefully orchestrated that has an internal harmony that tells a wonderful story. Execution is perfect plus the ingredients are of extraordinary quality. Much of the ingredients are supplied by Love Apple Farms.

From the Love Apple Farms web site:

“We originally became known for growing 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes each year. The farm is now the exclusive kitchen garden for world-renowned Manresa Restaurant (Los Gatos, California).”

“Cynthia Sandberg, owner and farmer, uses biodynamic and organic techniques to grow over 300 different cultivars of fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers for the restaurant.”

“The farm and restaurant are a mere fifteen minutes apart, nestled half way between San Francisco and Monterey. No restaurant can become one of the finest in the land without an incredible amount of struggle and hard work. So too, struggles the farm, striving to grow the best produce possible.”

We can’t duplicate what Cynthia Sandberg or David Kinch does but we did bring home six varieties of heirloom tomato plants so at least we will have a small taste of Manresa this summer.

Tomato plants ready to be planted.

THE WINTER GARDEN MEAL AT MANRESA

BYO Krug to start – MV- 1990 direct from Krug via Soutirage

Petit fours – Roast Red Pepper Gelee and Black Olive Madelines – a signature beginning and as good as always

Garden Beignets, vinegar powder, aged goat cheese with baked kale – a one bite wonder

Smoked Avocado Ceviche – another winner with the underlying “smoke” a great flavor enhancer

Monterey Bay abalone in its own gelee, local milk (perhaps from Nutmeg the cow) panna cotta – what a glorious combination of tastes and textures

Roasted Fava Beans on the plancha – just eat the whole thing pod and all – this is when if an ingredient isn’t pristine this wouldn’t have worked – obviously it did!

BYO White Wine – Delarche Corton ’95

Black Radish, turnips, savory granola, arugula, milk curd – the granola added just the right texture component and the combination of flavors was superb – I know I sound like a broken record but this is where Chef Kinch excels.

Spot prawn with buckwheat-nettle dumplings, asparagus and nasturtium gazpacho – the spot prawns were pristine and the dumplings a surprise ingredient that was perfect. The gazpacho sang “freshness.”

“A Winter Tidal Pool” – Monterey Bay Abalone, Scallops, Foie Gras, Seaweed, Dashi Broth – the abalone and scallops never had it so good as this tidal pool they found themselves in

“Into the Vegetable Garden” – this is a signature dish of Chef Kinch that features the vegetables and flowers from Love Apple Farm – the key to the dish is the edible dirt made from dehydrated potato, almond and chicory and the foam from the garden vegetable broth

BYO Red Wine – 1969 Volnay

Brussel sprouts roasted with chanterelles, oyster and oyster vinegar, oyster emulsion, mandarin orange, rutabaga puree – the combination of ingredients was extraordinary

Japanese Sea Bream, Braised Artichokes, vegetable and bone marrow bouillon (the bouillon had been thickened with bone marrow), truffle – a perfectly cooked fish witth a rich and luxurious broth

Duck, (Sonoma County aged 21 days) slowly roasted in hay and salt crust, faro and parsnips, shallot jus, sauce was made with homemade green walnut wine – this was unbelievably off the charts A+++

Grilled Beef rib (Flannery beef dry-aged 48 days), alliums, ocean persillade, baby shallots, green onions, green garlic vinaigrette – in any other standard tasting menu I would be stuffed at this point. Not with Chef Kinch’s cuisine as it is not meant to overwhelm. It is so light and thoughtful – I would add that it is very cerebral cuisine – you don’t just shovel food in your mouth – you look at a dish, study the components, taste thoughtfully and marvel at the intricate and delicate nature of each and every dish.

Cheese cart

Close-up of the Cheese

BYO Riesling – Gunderloch

Garden Tisane – a digestive

Passion fruit sherbet, coconut and salted peanut crumble

Pine nut pudding with maple gelatin, candy cap ice cream, sunchoke, chocolate

Chocolate Birthday cake –

Old-fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream

This was a fantastic meal from beginning to end. It just doesn’t get better than this. My biggest complaint with the young chefs is their theory of more is more – they need an editor! With Chef Kinch nothing is put on the plate for show, each quality ingredient is handled with finesse and executed with mastery.

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