06 February 2009

2004 Bell Sonnette

I had a crazy idea the other day of a vaguely Japanese steak dinner, something to break up the meat-and-potatoes routine. Or the organ meat and odd critters routine. I started things off with some miso soup. I cheated here, using a concentrated miso import, but my fellow diners and I were very happy with the results. To the savory broth I added chopped green onions, cubed firm tofu, and plenty of enoki mushrooms. Enokitake have a great buttery flavor, as well as a texture that's like a bean sprout when raw and like a noodle in soup. Don't overcook these, but they add a lot of flavor to dishes. (Plus I love the fact that they look like some crazy wild thing you'd find growing on a dead log in the forest. Forbidden fungus... Mmmmmmm...)

I promise that I'll get my konbu and katsuobushi together to make a real bowl of miso shiru. Watch this blog for a future update!

For the main course I had organic grass-fed ribeyes marinating in soy sauce, slow roasted to rare in the oven and then seared off in a hot skillet. I also made another batch of the Napa cabbage and watermelon radish slaw from a few posts ago. Might as well enjoy it while those beautiful radishes are still around.

The wine was the true star of the evening. The 2004 Bell Sonnette is from Napa and was a real treat. $50, 14.6% abv. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 11% Petite Verdot. This was a gift from my friend Paul, and I'm going to be hard pressed to top this one in 2009. I've always been a fan of Bell, and this little treasure is worth getting if you can find it--this was bottle 212 of 2398. (He got it from Wolfchase Wine & Spirits, I don't know if anyone else has it.) It's curious to think that, assuming two people per bottle, only 5000 people will get to try this wonderful wine. Makes me wonder what small run wines will never even cross my path.

There's a nose of chicory coffee, plum, and nutmeg. Medium tannins with dark berry flavors and a long, long finish. It's distinctly California without being a fruit bomb. Excellent balance, and I commend the nearly quarter volume given to Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot, two wonderful grapes that so often are only present as a splash.

I don't do a lot of Asian cooking (and this meal barely qualifies), but I think I've been neglecting it in my culinary self-education. Plus it gives me the excuse to try a whole lot of new weird and wonderful ingredients.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

I've read a lot of blogs, wine and otherwise, and yours is always a pleasure. For my money, your wine blog is one of the best.

Allen said...

Find some Asian cooking classes and we will go. The serving bowls are very nice. Keep up the great reviews.

Samantha Dugan said...

The soup looks really good and I love those little mushrooms. You would go crazy over here in my neighborhood Benito, I live right next to an area called Little Saigon and is just miles upon miles of Asian markets and noodle or Pho houses. So fun to just wander around those markets, looking at things you have never seen before and I never walk out without some crazy food item to explore.

Benito said...

Dad & TWC,

As the old guys from Bartles & Jaymes used to say, "We thank you for your support!"


If I'm ever in a new city for more than a day I try to make a stop in the local Chinatown/Asian neighborhood. Locally I've converted many skeptical Westerners to the joys of pho, and I've got markets where I can buy dried squid parts and buckets of live frogs.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

It is cool that your Dad reads the blog. As I whined about in my 25 things, nobody in my family cares a fig about anything I write.

I'm not talking about Mrs TWC or my kids, who are faithful readers. I'm talking about sister, mother, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. My dad gets a pass because he doesn't own a computer.