02 January 2007

New Year's Eve Dinner

First off, a quick roundup. In 2005, I reviewed around 450 wines. In 2006, I reviewed 320 wines, 24 beers, and 14 spirits. I'm not slacking off, I just started getting a little more selective in the tastings I attended. Basically, for the life of this blog there's roughly 800 unique beverage reviews, not to mention all of the food articles I've written.

Last Friday, I was walking through the grocery store and noticed a sale on Porterhouses for $5.39 per lb. Now, for New Year's Eve, Paul and I were planning on roasting a whole beef tenderloin like I did for my birthday. After all, we had 6-8 people attending the gathering. But I looked at that price and hatched a new plan. When doing a dinner party, I rarely get my heart set on any particular ingredient; I prefer to look for what's in season, then what looks good, and if possible, what's on sale. And this was a price I couldn't pass up. So I had the butcher cut me two three-inch thick steaks. And I had to repeat my order, and explain what I was going to do with them. Shortly thereafter I walked out the door with eight pounds of beef and an approving nod from the butcher. That's two 64 oz. steaks for those keeping score. Generally you only see steaks that large in places where there's some sort of challenge about eating the whole thing in under an hour without getting sick.

There were many delicious appetizers provided by the ladies (spinach-artichoke dip, mozzarella sticks, seven-layer dip, etc.), and these were consumed with a few glasses of the 2005 Tittarelli Torrontés Reserva from Argentina. It's bright and fruity, with a brash flavor of grapefruit peel that can be a little aggressive on its own, but pairs nicely with appetizers that include sweet and savory elements.

Torrontés isn't the most popular white grape in the world, and mainly seems to flourish in Argentina. I enjoy most of the wines I taste from this grape, and think that with some work and good marketing it can stand on its own against similarly priced Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. I'm continually fascinated by the European grapes that flourish in South America.

Since a few weeks ago when we talked about the big Porterhouse or T-Bone roasts, I decided I had to cook one or two of them. Here's the final plate, the beef with some fried fingerling potato chunks, a selection of fancy baby lettuces, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette (honey really helps out). So how did I cook the steaks? I grilled them for about five minutes on each side over a really hot fire, and then transferred them to the oven into a roasting pan with a rack. I inserted digital thermometers into each and roasted the steaks at around 400°F until approximately 130°F internal temperature. This proved a little difficult, as the interior of a 3" thick Porterhouse seems to vary quite a bit in its substance (I measured from the thickest central portion of the strip). While the roast as a whole was a little more on the medium side than I would have liked, there was plenty of lush, juicy rare steak to be had, with nicely caramelized edges on the top and bottom. Throughout the roasting I basted the steaks with olive oil using a heavy stalk of homegrown rosemary.

To serve it, I simply carved off the filets and strips, and then sliced up the meat with the grain. The idea here is long slices, and then when you cut up the slices on your plate, you're slicing against the grain and thus tenderness and chewing aren't negatively impacted. I basically laid out the slices on a big platter and served the guests in the following manner: "Point to the color you like, and tell me when to stop loading your plate."

The red wine for the evening was the 2003 Bogle Phantom, made of 59% Petite Sirah, 39% Zinfandel, and 2% Mourvèdre. It's an odd California blend: ignoring grapes, is the inspiration Rhone or Bordeaux? I tasted it a few months ago, and still love this wine. Full of dark berry flavors, firm tannins, and utterly delicious. We tasted this wine when it was first opened, and then drank it after two hours in the decanter. The decanter definitely helped with some of the youthful rough edges, yet the wine didn't taste stale or oxidized--my biggest fear with letting wine sit around and breathe for so long. It also didn't seem to pick up any of the food aromas from the cooking process.

Not a bad way to celebrate the New Year.


Big Mike said...

WOW what a meal!! Looks Great here is another link for the Torrontés. Great review of the wine as well.

Allen said...

The classic meal, beef at its best with good wine and great people.

Happy New Year

pmjones said...

This was a great dinner; I'm still supping on sumptuous scraps. Thanks so much for preparing it. The Bogle, after decanting, was really nice. The spinach dip as an appetizer was particularly good, and of course the company was wonderful. Too bad New Year's only comes once a year.

Herb said...

You continue to amaze me everyday!

What a fantastic review and an absolutely scrumptuous meal.

Wanna trade from my crockpot beenie-weenies and 30 day old box wine?


Grace said...

"The spinach dip as an appetizer was particularly good, and of course the company was wonderful."

What a wonderfully sweet thing to say and a nice way to get some brownie points with your girlfriend, but you know as well as I do that Ben's cooking is always the star of the show.

This was really an amazing meal that I am more than happy to let Ben recreate anytime he wishes;)

Thanks again, Ben!

WineHealth said...

Great meal. I am always late to the party. I tell you, had I read this piece before christmas, I would have treated myself