Cooking For Others: A Perfect Pairing
EVENT: Celebrating Santa Barbara Syrah
VENUE: Phoebe’s Apartment, Flatiron
PARTY SIZE: A Pair
TYPE: Cozy (Romantic) Dinner
MENU: Broiled Flank Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Chive-Parsley Butter; Balsamic Roasted Cipollini Onions
WINE: Jaffurs 2007 Larner Vineyard Syrah
Back in October, I paid a visit to the other coast, spending a leisurely week in LA. After a few days, despite the incredible respite of my accommodations, the smog, the Uggs, and the botox, started to get to me. So I decided to leave L.A. and venture up to Santa Barbara to visit an old, and very missed friend.
Joanie and I got to know each other over countless plates of panini while studying abroad in Rome, and I knew she would be the perfect person to show me the food and drink of the town (emphasis on the latter). As soon as I arrived, she whisked me off to Santa Barbara Winery, where she is the director of marketing and national sales (basically, a pretty big deal). As we walked around the stainless steel vats, she taught me most of what I know today about the wine process, and let me taste the Chardonnay in its various stages. She pointed out how the young wine was sweet and aerated and how the finished bottle had developed bright, balanced, and fruity notes. When we finished, it was only 11am.
Now that I had been briefly educated and integrated into SB culture (wine for breakfast), Joanie took me to get my hands dirty at Jaffurs Wine Cellars, where we were going to harvest syrah grapes from Larner Vineyard for their 2009 vintage. I was excited to get started. But before we did, the plastic table from the tasting room was carried outside, and we sat down with the Jaffurs family to eat turkey club sandwiches and wash them down with more bottles of wine.
By the time my assembly line duties called, I was ready to curl up on top of the mounds of grapes and take a mid-afternoon Dionysian nap. Instead, Joanie handed me a beer (beer?) and told me to take my place on the conveyor belt to begin sorting. Maybe I was a factory worker in another life, but I really loved this task. It was like a computer game—picking through healthy grapes as they came pouring down the shoot, throwing twigs, leaves, and bugs to the wayside. When I explained my joy to Matt, he told me this was nothing. Apparently, I might not have dug the sorting process so much on a day that featured a more harrowing batch of grapes, one containing branches, snakes, and way bigger bugs.
It was an incredibly satisfying day of manual labor, among even more satisfying company. Everyone I met infected me with their passion for wine, teaching me the different nuances of its creation and making me enjoy glasses of it from 10am til dinnertime. Joanie and I were lucky to each receive a bottle of the 2007 vintage in return for our services, and we cracked hers open at dinner (after a pit stop at another tasting).
I certainly don’t pretend to be any sort of authority on pairings, or wine in general. So I trusted Joanie’s judgment when it came to the menu at Le Petit Valentine, where we ate. She ordered us creamy mushroom bruschetta to start, then a juicy beef fillet on top of rich mashed potatoes to follow. I didn’t want to stray far from her original pairing when it finally came time for me to enjoy my bottle of Jaffurs Syrah back East in the comfort of my own kitchen. I did still change around a few components, letting the mushrooms become a bed for my flank steak and adding a little Syrah to the marinade and the sauce. The end result was delicious alongside the wine, but more importantly, the meal was nearly as romantic as the original dinner with my dear friend Joanie, who later tucked me under the covers in her bed, as there was no way I was driving back to LA until morning.
Speaking of romance, men seem to like steak sort of a lot. And the one in my life seemed to enjoy this particular steak dinner–albeit on a night less assuming than Valentine’s Day–quite a bit. Should you be part of a perfect human pairing, you might make this perfect dinner tomorrow for your better half. A home cooked meal is surely a more original gift than a dozen roses, and definitely less awkward than a chocolate bas-relief of your lover’s face.
Enjoy it with a bottle of full-bodied Syrah, though you might want to leave it to your local wine shop to help you find the perfect pairing.
From my kitchen, where I play matchmaker, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Broiled Flank Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Chive-Parley Butter
Makes 2 servings
For the marinade:
3 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1lb flank steak
1 tbsp chive-parsley butter
For the mushrooms:
2 shallots, sliced
1lb mushrooms (cremini and portabello), roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup syrah, or other full bodied red wine
Reserved marinade (see above for recipe)
2 tbsp herb butter (see below for recipes), or use regular
¼ cup chopped parsley
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large Ziploc bag and shake around so they are well mixed. Add the steak and fully cover and submerge in the marinade. Lay flat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 1 day.
Preheat the broiler, and place the oven rack as close to the heat as possible.
In large skillet, sauté the shallots in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove the steak from the marinade (reserve this for later) and pat it dry with paper towels. Season well with salt on both sides. Place the steak on a sheet pan or in an oven-proof skillet, and broil in the oven, 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove to a cutting board and top with a pat of the chive-parsley butter. Cover the steak with foil (tent it over the top) and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
When rested, slice the steak against the grain. Arrange the slices over a spoonful of mushrooms, and slather a piece of toasted country white bread with the remaining chive-parsley butter. Serve with a class of full-bodied Syrah.
4 tbsp room temperature butter (1/2 stick)
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
In a small bowl, cream the butter along with the herbs. Add a pinch of salt, and taste for seasoning. For a firmer texture, refrigerate.
1lb cipollini onions, skins removed*
½ tsp dried thyme (1 tsp fresh)
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
*NOTE: Blanching the onions makes the skins come off much easier on these little guys. I just boiled some water in my kettle and poured it over the onions in my ceramic mixing bowl and took them out a few minutes later when they were cool enough to touch.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the thyme, sugar, salt, oil, and vinegar. Add the onions and toss to combine. In a medium baking dish or Dutch oven, arrange the onions in one layer. Cover with foil or a lid and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and roast for an additional 20 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and fully tender.
Serve alongside steak, or any other delicious meat.