Eating at California’s Five Michelin 3 Stars
By Bob & Sue
With the elevation of Manresa to three stars for 2016, Northern California now has five of the 13 Michelin 3-star restaurants in the United States. We ate at all five in nine days during our recent anniversary celebration in January. These five great chefs all featured the highest quality ingredients from farm to table gardens on their 16 to 19 course tasting menus.
Credit: Ten Speed Press
Chef David Kinch is cooking better than ever after reopening from a fire. He uses produce from nearby Love Apple Farms to achieve bold, fresh flavors in dishes such as “Into the Garden” with 28 varieties of greens and a chicory coffee ravioli. His “Winter Tidal Pool” of seafood, the Nantucket Bay baby scallops with chestnut and parsley purees, and a beef rib cap with fermented carrot sauce were among the many other highlights.
Credit: The Restaurant at Meadowood
Chef Chris Kostow continues to achieve head turning taste sensations and unique textures from such creative dishes as a roasted baby pumpkin with black tea jam; eel and beef tongue wrapped in grape leaves; a slow cooked onion stuffed with whelk; a baby poussin baked in its own loaf of bread; open fire roasted Snake Farm River beef with bone marrow; and an olive oil semi fredo dessert with candied fruit.
Credit: Deborah Jones
The French Laundry team, headed by the iconic Thomas Keller, combines traditional French cooking techniques with modern interpretations. The white truffle hen egg custard with a ragout of perigord truffles served in an eggshell always pleases. Drawing on some of the best provisioners in the United States, he also served an unusual tuna tartare with a San Marzano tomato marmalade, a decadent tagliatelle with a black truffle and parmigiano reggiano cream sauce and shaved French black truffles, and a Wolf Ranch white quail with a braised hen terrine and walnut jus.
Credit: Eric Wolfinger
Benu is run by French Laundry alum Corey Lee whose French Asian fusion food is simply stunning in its creativity and simplicity. The charcoal-grilled Hawaiian abalone was the best we have ever had, and an eel taco stuffed with mountain yam was brilliant in a feuille de brick pastry. An unusual sea cucumber, beef tendon and lobster dish cooked in a subtle red wine reduction as the final savory was accompanied by Robuchon-style mashed potatoes.
Credit: Bonjwing Photography
Chef Joseph Skenes often pushes beyond the envelope using his wood burning oven to cook, flash grill and finish his dishes. The quality of the Japanese sea urchin served on “liquid toast” was the best I have had since Tokyo at Sushi Saito. The amazing “fire in the sky” beet was first dehydrated and then reconstituted with bone marrow, veal jus and sweet sherry. The perfectly cooked wild pin tailed duck was brilliantly complemented by spiced giblets of heart and liver and a salted plum and shiso sauce.
Feature image courtesy of The Restaurant at Meadowood.