Sorry, Folks. Vegetables Are Mad Expensive.

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I’m in Napa Valley, California, at the Restaurant at Meadowood’s chef’s counter, which is a fancy way of saying I’m sitting in someone’s kitchen. There are outdoor seats, which overlook the croquet course. I opt for the indoor seats, because I rather watch chefs make food than rich guys hit croquet balls. Creedence Clearwater is playing on an iPod hooked up to Bose Speakers. “I ain’t no millionaire’s son,” John Fogerty croons. The cost of my meal is $500 before tax, wine, and booze. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m ready for a ton of caviar. And what I get is a ton of leaves, roots, and flowers. WTF.

A bunch of radishes appear in front of me. They look no different from the radishes I pass by and forget about at my local Key Foods. These radishes, however, are fermented in champagne yeast. I pop one in my mouth. Tastes like a radish. So what? Then something happens. The flavor goes on. And on. And on. Sort of the same way you can taste uni a few minutes after you eat it. I take a sip of Billecart vintage Champagne (gotta live, right?), and the flavor is doubled. I’m giddy now, in the same way I once got giddy about knocking back some Dom Ruinart with a whole lot of Israeli caviar at Le Bernardin. 

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And that was all before they gave me this kale crisp pictured here. Chef Christopher Kostow makes it by pureeing kale with tapioca, drying it and frying it. It wasn’t so much a regular kale chip as it was kale impersonating a pork rind. Yep, kale can do it all. Instead of dip, the kale rind comes with a few dots of chorizo-flavored kale puree. Meadowood isn’t the kind of place where you ask for a bowl of sour cream dip flavored with powdered French onion soup mix. How did it al taste? Like kale, times ten. So no, we’re not talking  about “fig on a plate” vegetables here. We’re not talking crudites. We’re talking about manipulating vegetables from the point of growth, to the point of cooking, to the point of consumption. We’re talking about cooking good food, dammit. And that all costs good money. 

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Momofuku's David Chang Will Cook at Meadowood. Tickets Go on Sale Tuesday Morning. 4

The Restaurant at Meadowood’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” series of collaborative charity dinners continues into its sixth year, with tickets going on sale Tuesday morning. My good colleague Patrick Cole and I report on this year’s crop of participating chefs over at Bloomberg News. As usual, it’s a SOLID GROUP, which includes Manresa’s David Kinch, Pok Pok Ny’s Andy Ricker, Blanca’s Carlo Mirarchi and Momofuku’s David Chang. 

Christopher Kostow, the chef at the three Michelin-starred Meadowood, will be cooking the last meal of the series, as always. 

Dinners run $395 per person, inclusive of wine pairings. Tax and tip are extra. Chefs counter seats, which also include vino, cost $750 and will involve a more expanded menu. Those splurging for the spendier option will be invited to Meadowood’s “lineup meeting” and will receive a Twelve Days chef’s coat and apron, a VIP visit to that evening’s winery and a gift from the vintner. 

Keep in mind that 20% of the proceeds will go to Napa Emergency Women’s Services, providing aid and shelter to domestic violence victims, as well as toward the Holly Cranston Memorial Fund, which gives scholarships to those preparing for careers in helping children with special needs. And we hear the food is pretty good too! These are, after all, dinners you can’t get elsewhere. Where else will you find a chef like Andy Ricker, the guy behind the super-casual Pok Pok, serving a proper tasting menu at a fancypants joint like Meadowood? Nowhere. We’re stoked about that one.

Yep, it’s a GOOD DEAL. 

San Francisco's Best Chefs Hosting $250 Sandy Benefit Dinner & Silent Auction4

So Here’s the Good Deal, My Fellow Bad Dealers: Benu’s Corey Lee (two Michelin stars), Meadowood’s Christopher Kostow (three Michelin stars) and others will join Daniel Patterson at his (two Michelin-starred) Coi for Hurricane Sandy benefit dinner on December 3rd.

The price is $250 per person, all inclusive, for seven-courses plus wine. 

Here’s what’s even cooler: 100% of the receipts (not just the revenues) will go toward helping rebuilding Governor, as well as toward Occupy Sandy and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York (for hurricane relief). So you’ll be eating food from some of San Francisco’s best chefs and you’ll be helping out those hurt by Sandy. 

Ain’t no two ways about this. We have ourselves a GOOD DEAL.