Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Destined Pairing

January 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Main Blog

Sometimes a meal and a wine come together in a way that seems destined. When reflecting upon memories of the pairing, one might find it hard to imagine the two without each other. These experiences are usually impossible to recreate because part of the pleasure is the spontaneity of the flavors and aromas coming together for the first time. That newness is an inescapable part of the pairing itself. I am currently in the afterglow of such an experience and my only hesitation in sharing is knowing that words can only capture so many facets of what my senses would consider a food and wine make-out session. Nevertheless, I shall make an attempt.

I love a nice thick bone-in ribeye, so when I saw these two luscious, marbled beauties sitting in the meat case, I knew that we were meant to be. I shamelessly caressed them as I laid them gently in the cart, wondering if anyone noticed the dreamy look in my eye. I practically raced through the store to gather other supplies so I could get home and be alone in the kitchen with my beef. I only marinate steaks when they need a little tenderizing or they are very lean and need a little more flavor. Needless to say, marinade was not necessary on this occasion, so a simple crust of sea salt and black pepper did the trick. Some of you may know that I do love to use my grill/smoker, but the cast iron skillet was calling my name. I heat the pan to about 300 degrees and let the steaks take their time getting to a medium temperature so the fat and the bone can work their magic on the final flavor. The pan should be hot enough to give a nice sear to each side and seal in the juices, without cooking the steaks too quickly.

In the meantime, I had a pan full of mushrooms cooking down and building some nice flavors. I used a mix of baby bellas and button mushrooms coated in butter, sea salt, black pepper and tarragon. I let the mushrooms get a nice brown color as they slowly simmered and absorbed all that butter and seasoning. A few minutes before serving I deglazed the pan with some red wine and put a lid on until the steaks were perfect. Tell me these mushrooms don’t look completely delicious!

When the ribeyes were riding the fence between rare and medium rare I pulled them and let them rest for a few minutes. They were a perfect medium by the time they hit the plate. Add the mushrooms, some steamed asparagus and wild rice and voila!…everything a woman needs for a great meal.

Now let’s take a moment to introduce the love interest if you will. I had actually been thinking about this bottle of wine for days, as if it was beckoning to me from it’s cozy little spot in the wine cooler. I am speaking of La Jota 2001 Howell Mountain Cabernet Anniversary Release. More recent vintages of the La Jota Anniversary Release now go by “Heritage Release”, but as before, the wine is always the best of the harvest and truly a fine expression of Howell Mountain Terroir (one of my favorites.)

You can tell I am a big fan of La Jota Vineyard Co. and I knew that this bottle would be perfect with dinner, but I really had no idea just how good. One of my major criteria for falling in love with a wine is simple. The first taste should already be outstanding and should harness great potential for things to come. Then the wine should evolve with time and food and each evolution should be equally exciting. This La Jota Cabernet delivered all of that and more.

The first impression on the nose was tar, dark ripe fruit and white pepper. I spent several minutes just inhaling the deep and dark aromas. The first taste was an explosion of raspberry, dark chocolate and espresso. The rich mouth feel seemed to really take shape once paired with the meaty fatty ribeye. The combination of the two in my mouth was so synergistic that it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. The mushrooms were a nice surprise. The La Jota really brought the characteristics of the mushrooms to the forefront, showcasing the inherent earthiness and the bright hints of tarragon. I found myself slowly savoring each bite and sip as if it were my last. Towards the end, the lingering finish of the wine became subtle minerality and a bright herbal note that almost mimicked the tarragon. My mouth is watering now as it remembers this recent encounter. I truly did not want the meal or the wine to end. My only consolation is the bottle of La Jota Cab Franc sitting in my wine cooler waiting for its chance to shine. Don’t worry darling. Your time will come. Until then…Cheers!


4 Responses to “A Destined Pairing”
  1. Brett says:

    That looks lovely! We’ve been trying to find a cast iron skillet out here in Taiwan, but no luck so far. We can pick one up in the States, but it will kill our luggage allowance, and keep us from bringing wine back with us…so we’ve been struggling without one all this time 🙁

  2. Jennifer says:

    Yes, I do love a cast iron skillet. My mother has always cooked with one. I can see where it would be a little heavy for travel. I tried to find an alternative on the internet that I could tell you about, but as I suspected, there really is no substitute. I’m sure Taiwan keeps you busy with all sorts of great cooking supplies and ingredients though. Cheers!

  3. Jace McCoy says:

    I love your site. I’m always intrigued by your writing. You make mundane things sound whimsical. Not to mention the wines you share with us. Looking forward to the next update. -Hope all is well 😀

  4. Jennifer says:

    Jace, thank you so much. You always have such kind things to say. I am glad you are enjoying my posts. I am working on the next one as we speak. Cheers!

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