Archive for the 'Manresa – Los Gatos' Category



Manresa – Los Gatos

This is from a meal 4 years ago, but I thought I would add it as I had posted about the beggar’s purses at Manresa. Plus this meal really deserves to be written-up. 

My birthday dinner at Manresa was perfect in every way. To say that Chef Kinch outdid himself is an understatement. Not only did my husband and Chef Kinch have numerous emails to coordinate plans, but my son surprised me by driving 6 hours for dinner and leaving the next morning at 6 am to drive home. 

You will notice that none of the current signature dishes i.e. “Into the vegetable garden” were included as Chef Kinch hadn’t created them yet!

 david's cromesquis

Salt cod bunyols- these were salt cod frittes with honey water


soup

Blue crab soup with Thai curry spices – this was perfect – the Thai spices were not in your face, but enhanced rather than masked the crab. The broth was exquisite with a wonderful depth of flavor.

 

beggars 1

Beluga caviar beggar’s purses and…

beggars 2

…More beluga caviar beggar’s purses

beggars 3

and more beluga caviar beggar’s purses – Chef Kinch did this as a favor for my birthday. I remember having these at Quilted Giraffe many, many years ago and he was kind enough to repeat the experience – decadent. Also, these were served in 3 separate services – made to order, perfect temperature, very labor intensive.

oyster

 Oyster and sea urchin in their own gelee with Meyer lemon – this was sensational – a match made in heaven. I think this dish showcases Chef Kinch’s cuisine; there is nothing extraneous on the plate, the less is more doctrine rules and the ingredients are pristine.

 

first fish

Kin-medai, sashimi-style, with olive oil and chives – Kin-medai is golden butterfish. It was exquisite. I am constantly amazed by Chef Kinch’s understanding and handling of fish. It almost, but not quite, makes me willing to give up Japanese sashimi at Urasawa.

 

2nd fish

Wild striped jack with a 30 second marinade – The jack was from Japan and our server mentioned that the marinade was “high quality” soy sauce and grapeseed oil. I forgot to ask what he meant by high quality soy sauce, but I am assuming we are not talking Kikkoman! Again, fish in Chef Kinch’s hands is a magical ingredient.

 Manresa scallop

Just shucked scallops perfumed with yuzu – This was a tour de force – the essence of scallops without one extraneous note.

 

truffles

 Monterey Bay Spot prawns on the Plancha with Sunchoke Puree and Black Truffle Butter and Truffles 

 

Manresa martini caviar

Pea shell bouillon with spot prawn consommé, caviar – this was the only weak dish of the night – the caviar got lost and there was just too much going on. At another dinner, Chef Kinch had done just shucked scallops with watercress vichyssoise topped by Iranian Osetra Caviar and I liked this combination better. I think the addition of the spot prawn consommé destroyed the balance of this dish.

 

lobster

Maine Lobster gently warmed in hydromel with ginger, yellowfoot mushrooms and savoy cabbage – the lobster was sweet, tender and for me the critical, very picky Bostonian when it comes to lobster, it was cooked perfectly. The hydromel, a mixture of water and honey that becomes mead when fermented, reflected the sweetness of the lobster in a good way with the ginger adding a spark.

 

squid

Baby eels, traditional style with garlic, olive oil and red pepper – this took me back to Spain instantly and served as a great transitional course.

 

sweetbreads

Local Abalone with braised pig’s feet with milk skin with brown butter – The pig’s foot is actually wrapped in the skin that forms when you boil milk and that film forms on the top – A delicious meat/fish combination.

 

meat 2

Mignon of Suckling pig with Boudin “black and white”, green garlic emulsion – A++ – this was over the top sensational – as close to a French boudin noir I have had in the States

 

blacck needles

Sweetbreads with parsnip milk, mushrooms and truffles

 

pork

36 hour braised lamb shoulder with chestnut and ginger puree –  I particularly liked the accompaniment of the chestnut and ginger puree. The lamb was fork tender and melted in your mouth.

 

lamb

Mignons of venison with English Pea Puree, carrots and Venison Jus – the venison was tender, beautifully cooked and full of flavor.

 

dessert 1

Saffron panna cotta, figs with pistachio

 

dessert 2

Strawberry beignets with bergamot cream

 

dessert 3

Chocolate soufflé with caramel ice cream, square of chocolate brownie

 

dessert 4

Hot chocolate

 

dessert 5

Lychee sorbet, pineapple and passionfruit

My favorite of the desserts was the strawberry beignets, but I must admit that my note taking was taking a dive and barely legible.

My husband’s comments on our BYO wines:

’88 Krug–fabulous, full bodied, perfect with early dishes.

’02 Montrachet Bouchard…fabulous, this is the best white wine in the world…we had some conversation about the Domaine Romanee Conti Le Montrachet.  It may be better, but this was awfully good.  It is hard to describe how the Montrachet (that tiny plot in Burgundy) can be so much better, but I’m sure that even blind we would feel that Montrachet is generally better –fuller bodied, more creamy, perfect finish…than the Batard or Chevalier-Montrachet…amazing.

 

the wine

’45 Ch. Mouton Rothchild.   This is one of the 100 point wines according to everyone.  It is easy to see why.  The only problem with the wine is that it is “perfect”…there is no way to know that this wine is 60 years old.

1976 Jos. Phelps Late Harvest Johannisberg Reisling–arguably the best dessert wine every made in the USA.  This wine, which we have had 30 times since 1978 is wonderful…it is now almost black in the bottle…dark dark brown-golden in the glass…hard, solid, sweet but not cloying…just a great dessert flavor like a TBA…a treat for the last time…an appropriate finish for a great evening.

 

 

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Manresa

Bottom line at the beginning – Chef Kinch outdid himself – what a wonderful meal.

We started the meal outside, in the beautiful garden – the air was balmy – the setting gorgeous.

 

Petit Fours “red pepper-black olive” This is a visual pun – the madeleine style amuse is actually black olive and the red “gum drop” red pepper

 

 

Lavender lemonade, mint – very refreshing and a wonderful start.

 

Parmesan Churros –  one of our first meals at Manresa included the churros and it was super to revisit an old favorite.

 

Aji and seaweed ice, lemony herbs – I love aji, but the combination with the ice was masterful – all I needed was a seashell to hold to my ear and listen to the ocean.

 

Sweet corn croquettes (cromesquis) – insert croquette in your mouth and in one bite the liquid summer corn explodes in your mouth.

 

Courgette (zucchini) sorbet, pistachio vinaigrette, garnished with Orache, a member of the spinach family – another refreshing, light, summery palate pleaser

 

Farm fresh peaches in argan oil, prime filet of beef  (Bresaola) cured in house, thinly sliced – another wonderful combination whispering summer

 

Golden beggar’s purses filled with wild char roe and a quail egg – I really messed up on eating this dish. I forgot that I had to pop the entire purse in my mouth.  Unfortunately, I lost some of my roe on the table – no problem, just picked them up with my fingers and ate every single one.

 

Hand-churned salted butter with house-made bread that took several months to perfect 

 

Marinated shellfish and golden raspberries, fragrant green curry oil and just for me Iranian caviar – Again, what is striking to me about Chef Kinch’s cuisine is the juxtaposition of ingredients – shellfish (didn’t have time to write everything down), raspberries and green curry – we were on a world-wide tour in one meal.

 

Pumpkin veloute “petit rouge’, ripe figs. First the bowl was served with the figs and the fig leaf ice cream. The roasted petit rouge pumpkin veloute was poured on top. I wasn’t aware there was a summer pumpkin and there is just no way to describe how delicious this was.

The veloute poured on top

 

Vegetables with exotic spice spice, flowering coriander – Dana, our wonderful server,  is extremely patient with me – I ask numerous questions and no matter how backed up she is, she always slows down so I can quickly write her descriptions. Basically the vegetables were garden roots – beets, Thumbelina carrots, baby carrots, green garlic, baby leeks in an Indian spice

 

Into the vegetable garden – Chef Kinch called this menu the summer garden and essentially this is what this dish was – the freshest and just picked vegetables from the garden – the major seasoning being the jus from the vegetables. 

 

Monterey Bay Abalone with garden basils and courgettes, slow egg – every time Chef Kinch pairs a dish with this miraculous slow cooked egg, I am in heaven.

 

Kokotxas in a young garlic bouillon witth New Zealand spinach. Dana explained these were salt cod cheeks or Cod Jowls.

A google search produced this:

“Out of each cod only two of these precious kokotxas are obtained.  So yes, they are precious.  Giraldo carefully hand selects the Kokotxas according to size and texture.  This is a very gelatinous product that allows the interested chef to become creative in the kitchen.  Do not peel the skin off of the product which is a mistake often made.  You should only remove the partial skin that is left in the middle joining the two long sections.”

 

pigeon presented

Wood pigeon roasted in salt, morels, braised chard and morellos cherries with the pits (Dana warned us in advance) – absolutely perfect

 The pigeon plated

 

Roast Sonoma lamb from Dave Watkins with garden vegetable roots, exotic spice, natural jus

Thank goodness Chef Kinch handed us a menu at the end of the evening– as is my usual penchant for note-taking, after quite a bit of wine, I am useless at this point in the meal for detailed notes.

 

Blackberries and bitter chocolate, caramel popcorn croustillant

 

Sheep’s milk yogurt mousse with nectarine, coriander

 

Olive Oil ice cream with sea salt, carnaroli rice with plum

 

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”

 

Wines for the evening:

1990  Billecart Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth, lovely, clean and festive as always

1989  Batard Montrachet, Jobard, disappointing, not “over” but not at peak
1996  Echezeaux, Arlaud, superb, great well aged burgundy
1993  Sauternes, Chateau d’Yquem, disappointing, not a great Yquem, a bit metallic on the finish, not exciting at all.

As always this was a wonderful meal. What I found most interesting is the evolution of Chef Kinch’s cuisine – it had many global influences, but always with a firm restraint, an insistence on the quality of the ingredients and a true commitment to seasonality.  

Now, I normally do not add in lodging comments, but Toll House needs a special mention. I have been recommending this hotel to all those who go to Manresa as affordable and decent. This hotel is now off the list. We have a room we like with a huge balcony and my husband had booked it months before. Mark, the front desk person, said, sorry room unavailable, but he insisted that he had a very, very nice room that we would love.

The balcony was tiny and my view was of the parking lot.

Tub was missing a stopper so that took 45 minutes for “engineering” to find one.

 

 

Around 2 am, my husband went to use the toilet and found that he couldn’t stop it running. Jingling the handle, it fell off. When I went to use the toilet at 3 am, no way to flush the thing. Remember the above meal necessitated using a toilet and we had an unflushable one.

When my husband woke up around 6, he was able to figure out a way to manually work the thing. When we went to check out and my husband complained to this Mark person, Mark pointed to a sign that said that Toll house would be renovated in September and what were we complaining about. We said but this is July and what does that have to do with anything. Then, we asked to speak to a GM or AGM, but she was not on duty yet.

 Finally the AGM reached us by cell phone and when we asked for a credit, she said we got a special rate so what were we complaining about – this rate was published on the internet and it was not special. Bottom line – they did credit us for the night, but it took a lot of persuasion.

 

Manresa

For the first time, I met Cynthia Sandberg and I have to admit I was overwhelmed by her passion and her height – 6 feet to my 5 feet. This is not a supplier in the sense that FL uses Jacobson’s farm, this is Manresa’s farm – a close collaborative relationship with Chef David Kinch and Cynthia in the most compatible marriage of ingredient to the table. A vegetable becomes more than just a vegetable, an herb is more than just an herb, and an egg yolk is a gorgeous yellow. Manresa is so much more than dining – it is love affair between the earth, the soil and the sun. There is a reverence for the product, be it animal or vegetable.

There is no way that I will do justice to the menu – I am not that good of a writer and so many plates reflected the soul of an artist that just seem to defy words. Also, I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies; I tried to write everything down, but good conversation and wine did get in the way.

Menu
Petits fours “red pepper-black olive”

Vegetables from the garden – these 4 words are the ultimate understatement, exquisite crudités that included carrots, zucchini, radishes, ice plant with an herb crème fraiche.

Sorrel and Olive Oil Ice – a refreshing palate enhancer

Amaranth and Borage Barbajuans – Barbajuans (in the Monegasque dialect) are actually fried pouches or ravioli made with rice flour with the addition of the amaranth and borage

Eggplant with smoked miso – again 4 words that I can’t really explain

Summer Croquettes – Insert croquette in your mouth and in one bite the liquid summer corn with a touch of vanilla and cayenne explodes throughout your mouth.

Arpege Farm egg – I make this very well thanks to Chef David Kinch, but I am thinking of raising chickens much to my husband’s horror. The Manresa egg is just wondrous.

Caviar consommé, wild amberjack belly with Iranian Oscetra caviar – this is just an OH MY dish – I can’t begin to explain the taste components of this dish – salinity, ocean, salt, texture, top quality fish

Shellfish with sausage, Yerba Buena – I love fish – all fish – so swordfish, littleneck clams, peekytoe crab, cuttlefish, spicy sausage, cherries and mint – Thank goodness for Dana – server extraordinaire and her detailed descriptions.

Garden veloute with mustard – Just imagine a deep green garden veloute with stone ground mustard to enliven the veloute

Spiced vegetables with brown butter –zucchini, tomatoes, radish, carrots, puree of radish tops to name a few with a brown butter “sauce” with vadouvan. I have had vadouvan with Ludo’s lobster dish, but who would have thought how much this spice would enhance vegetables.

The vegetable garden – any resemblance to going to a farmer’s market and buying fresh veggies and having fresh veggies from the hands of Cynthia and Chef David is deceptive, misleading and basically a misnomer. Many, many years ago, at Eugenie les Bains we were served a market basket of just harvested vegetables from Eugenie’s gardens. The presentation was simple – just a market basket of vegetables. We were enthralled by the simplicity and the just picked freshness.  Manresa’s vegetable garden was a Miro painting of the most exquisite cooked vegetables coaxed by David and Cynthia with “God’s hands” helping out with the weather. Also on the plate was something signifying dirt – actually purple potato, parsnip and chicory.

Golden pursulane and tomato with smoked roe, roasted red pepper and tuna broth – the roe popped in your mouth and was enhanced by the rich tuna broth. From a google search about pursulane:

“Purslane is more than merely edible landscaping — it is a culinary delight! In fact, it is a succulent herb”.
“Purslane’s stem is round and smooth, and it trails along the ground like a small vine. Young plants have a green stem, but, with maturity, stems take on reddish tints. Purslane has small, oblong, green leaves, which form clusters. The leaves resemble small wedges and, like the stem, are juicy.”
“In order to preserve purslane’s juiciness for eating, harvest this delight of your edible landscaping in the morning or evening, when you won’t have to compete with intense sunlight. Purslane can either be used raw in salads or sauteed as a side dish. In addition to the crispy texture you would expect from a succulent, purslane also has an interesting peppery flavor.”

Monterey Bay Abalone and slow egg, sucrine lettuce and bread crusts – I love eggs so I am a sucker for any egg dish with a beautiful runny yolk. The Abalone was perfectly cooked and the bread crust sautéed in pork fat added a new meaning to the combination of egg and abalone.

Summer roots with beef tendon, seaweed pistou – I am going to need help describing this dish – my notes are totally non-existent. I just remember eating the most tender piece of beef I have ever tasted.

Squash blossom fritters and nasturtium ice cream

Red plum and pistachio sable, raspberry and rosewater sorbet

Chocolate and ollalieberry pudding

Petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”

What an extraordinary meal. As I said at the beginning, my descriptions do not do justice to this cuisine.

Manresa

320 Village Ln. 
Los Gatos, CA 95030
Phone: 408.354.4330
Fax: 408.354.0134
info@manresarestaurant.com

Executive Chef / Proprietor: David Kinch

 

I owe complete credit to Pim (http://chezpim.typepad.com/) for introducing me to Manresa. Knowing it is always better to go to a restaurant as a newbie with someone who is known is definitely the way to go. My claim to fame is that I am no longer a newbie and just wish I could be a weekly regular. This is a great restaurant with a great chef. The dedication, the commitment, the quality, the execution – what more could one ask for and at Manresa you don’t have to ask because it delivers.
 
Chef Kinch warned me to come hungry and that was an easy order to obey. This was an extravaganza – an over-the-top experience.
 
I apologize in advance for the lack of photographic skill because the pictures unfortunately detract rather than enhance. I also apologize if I mistakenly identify some of the ingredients improperly. I tried to take extensive notes, but sometimes it was hard to write fast enough and now after some time has passed, it has grown more difficult to read these notes.
 
Chef Kinch is aware of our food preferences – my love of Japanese food, fish, local ingredients, purity, “less is more”, so I am inclined to think that this menu was orientated in that direction. Unfortunately, I was eating with wimps and we had to cut some courses. As always, we begin with a generous offering of Amuses:

Red Pepper / Black Olive

Manresa01
This time I made a point to really “inhale” this dish – the favors are intense – think of taking something at its most basic, changing the shape and texture and keeping the ultimate taste.

Sea Urchin (UNI) Shooter

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The base was soy, ginger and citrus with shaved breakfast radish and scallions – OK someone could just take uni and inject it in me, but this combination was wondrous. My only complaint is that the glass hurt the shooter aspect – I really wanted one bite, but the container was too wide to get that all in one bite.

Warm Indian Creek Oyster, Apple, Leek, Coulommier Cheese

Manresa03
Never in my head would I put oysters and cheese and for the life I me, I wouldn’t dare try it in a home kitchen, but with Chef Kinch yup!

Fatty Blue-Fin Tuna Belly, Perilla Flower, Kaffir Lime, Shiso

Manresa04
Okay, I admit it: I’m easy. Just give me some good tuna and leave me be. What isn’t to like?

Tartine of Prawn Roe, Salted Butter, Toasted Brioche

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Another dish that should have been named “Why the hell didn’t I think of this?” The layering of flavors here is perfect.  Never too much of any one component.  A Manresa hallmark, to be sure.

Whiting (Kisu), Pancetta, Shiso

Manresa06
The problem with Chef Kinch’s food is if you just rely on the written menu he so graciously gives you at the end of the meal, you will be lost when trying to write it up. Whiting has been wrapped in pancetta, a bit of shiso added, and then the whole is dipped in light tempura batter and quickly deep fried. Extraordinary.

The Classic Arpege Egg

Manresa07
A warm poached egg yolk with lightly whipped cream and sherry vinegar drizzled with maple syrup. Phenomenal in France, phenomenal here in the hands of Chef Kinch.  The dish is a true classic.  

Spot-Prawn Carpaccio, Just-Pressed Local Olive Oil

Manresa08
The prawns were from Monterey Bay and I can only say that I wish I could get fish as fresh as David Kinch. The just pressed olive oil was handled with a very judicious hand so that the taste of the fish was enhanced rather than overwhelmed. A bit of chives and sesame seeds rounded out the dish.

Marinated Mackerel, Oscetra Caviar

Manresa09
The mackerel had been salt-cured. Underneath was crème fraiche with chives and the mackerel was topped with Oscetra caviar.

Amadai Cured In Dried Seaweed, Aged Ponzu

Manresa10
Amadai is tile fish that eats only small crustaceans, usually crab. That is the reason this fish tastes so delicate. (As an aside, I ask many questions and the staff is more than willing to answer or ask Chef Kinch if they are unsure). The Ponzu was yuzu-based and the Konbu leaf had been rubbed with sake.

Sashimi Big-Fin Squid, Kin Medai, Geoduck, Kenomi Fern, Shiso, Shirashi

Manresa11
I honestly don’t know if the fish detailed belongs to this dish or the next dish. Shirodashi is white soy.

Assorted Spring Fish, Enoki Mushrooms, Delicate Sardine Broth

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Mesquite-Grilled Foie Gras, Wild Mint, Calamondin Caramel

Manresa13
Oh my – The foie had a somewhat smoky taste, although subtle. It was served with arugula rabe, wild mint, sea salt and slices of apple. The calamondin added the acidic/citrus note – again a subtle undertone not an over-the-top in your face accent.

Spot-Prawn, Asparagus, Miner’s Lettuce Salad

Manresa14
The jus in this dish was from the roe of the spot prawns – Another note about Chef Kinch’s cuisine. Nothing on the plate is for show, each element is essential and if anything has been edited by Chef Kinch to add an important note.

Sea Urchin, Crab, Lightly-Spiced Coconut Milk

Manresa15
There was a Thai element in this dish as the foam was made with coconut milk and a Thai chili paste. Fried shallots topped the dish adding a crunchy element.

Scallops, Scallop Tripe, Black Truffles

Manresa16
What an absolutely incredible dish. The scallops were sliced so thinly that there was not even a hint of toughness. A ragu of scallions, carrots and tripe plus the black truffles added up to an exquisite dish.

Black Bass, Fava Leaves and Beans

Manresa17
The Black Sea Bass had been seared a la plancha over fava beans. It was accompanied by a powerful, yet somehow managing to be subtle enough to not overwhelm the fish, anchovy vinaigrette.

Salt Cod Confit, Razor Clam Rice and Saffron

Manresa18
The confit sat on a razor clam risotto – toothsome risotto, perfectly cooked cod.

Roast Squab, Wild Onions, Homemade Vinegar

Manresa19
The homemade vinegar refers to Dave “Arata.” What is important to note in Chef Kinch’s cuisine is the sourcing of his ingredients – local farmers, local purveyors and insistence of quality, small producers. That translates into quality ingredients to begin with that results in a wonderful finished product. There was a squab breast with squab confit, wild onions a pine nut pudding and a natural squab jus.

Suet-Roasted Wagyu Beef, Porcini, Morel, Black Truffles, Beef Marrow Bordelaise

Manresa20
At this point, I was in wine and food nirvana. I set my notebook down and gave myself up to the parade of desserts.  I’ve got the photos, but no notes.

Strawberry Consommé, Vanilla-Bergamot

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Belgian Waffle, Banana Caramel, White Coffee Ice Cream

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Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet Cones

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Chocolate / Strawberry Petit Fours

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Do the final petit fours look familiar?  A fun way to end a meal, but with deep meaning.  A meal at Manresa comes around full-circle.  From a lovely beginning, to a satisfying completion.  A complete and total experience that I feel lucky to have been a part of it.

What more can I say about a Manresa experience? Great, extraordinary, sublime? Take your pick. Delicious, intellectual dining from a dedicated chef with a talent you rarely come across is the best I can do. Bravo, and thank you, Chef Kinch.


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