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HO HO HO…I received a killer Christmas present to dine at Manresa from Drew and Chef Brando. How cool is that? Does it get any better? Squealing with delight, I too get to join an elite bunch and dine at one of the six, 3 Michelin star restaurants in California. (All six happen to be in Northern California): killer bucket list idea.

Chef David Kinch has quite a flair for Contemporary California Cuisine with subtle influences of French and Japanese cuisine.

Clearly Chef Kinch is moved by the seasons and has appropriately named our dinner, The Winter Garden. Does he have a farm? You can taste and smell how fresh the ingredients are in every course.

12 heavenly courses, 2 standout bottles of wine, 1 fascinating and delicious cocktail and 4 foodies loving every minute.

Everyone had a different POV on which was the best bite. I’m gonna share all my favorites. Yes, more than one.

While I was perusing the wine list, Enzo and Drew got adventurous and ordered a magnificent cocktail called The Black Sesame.

A ginger infused vodka drink with black sesame orgeat and hints of pineapple and cucumber. With a small, cubed pineapple smothered in black sesame as a garnish. Can you imagine? It was delicious.

Not quite a surf and turf but the flavors of the ocean with an umami backdrop…I gotta say Chef Kinch’s manilla clam, uni, squid, geoduck bathing in a veal consommé was a showstopper.

So delicate and yet packed a flavorful punch…presented in a gorgeous bowl that resembled a clam. Bravo!

I don’t often talk about salads, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t applaud Chef Kinch’s stunning garden. Two overlapped hands in black and white presenting a vibrant medley of vegetable leaves, flower petals, herbs and citrus. I love citrus in my salads.

Amazing. I keep wondering if the hands on the plate actually are Chef Kinch’s hands. Lovely.

Chef Kinch’s quail dish was out of this world fantastic. Succulent, rich flavorful. Still, ya gotta pick it up and gnaw on all the little morsels. I’m still thinking about it.

Chew your food, you were told as a youngster…not Chef Kinch’s Wagyu. Melt in your mouth like butter. Paired with these gorgeous black trumpet shrooms. Phenomenal.

A moment about vanilla. Love it as an accent but as the hero of a dish…Not for me. It’s vanilla, plain as can be. However, this little quenelle of vanilla was fabulous. It was the hero and I wanted more and more.

All four of us agape at how amazing the vanilla was.

Do you think he might give me a gallon of it to take home? (I could have done without the Pomelo underneath the vanilla…far too bitter for my palate)

You are my moon and star…when this dessert came to our table there were audible oohs and ahhs. We scraped and scraped until the plates were clean. The ultimate balance of sweet, savory, acid and crunch. This is art!

With Jim, the sommelier, who makes the dining experience a five-star extravaganza: I paired the first half of our dinner with a 2009 Volnay Caillerets. A lovely white Burgundy that complemented the amuse bouche, salad and fish courses.

And for the second half of our dinner, I chose a 1982 St Emilion. Slightly nervous it may be a funeral…Jim assured me their bottles were kept pristinely and it would be magnificent. He wasn’t wrong. Died and gone to heaven the second it touched our lips. Brilliance in a bottle.

Graciously, Chef Kinch came out to greet our table and immediately spotted the empty 1982 and assumed I brought the bottle from home. We all giggled at his surprise that it was on his wine list. As I often do, I chose their last bottle so in fact it is no longer on their wine list.

They send you home with a goodie bag of delicious granola and a lovely menu as a keepsake.

Manresa is in the charming town of Los Gatos. Go out of your way and wine and dine. Definitely, The good life!


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