Last evening featured an Italian Culinary Arts delight. Our new friends Billy Ray Hearn and his beautiful, delightful steady girlfriend Nancy Peterson transported Chris and me back to Tuscany. If only for a night.
Fresh red roses were everywhere and to start the evening in Nashville Italia we quaffed an apertif of 1999 Valentino Brut Zero Riserva Sparking Wine. Cool and refreshing on this very hot and humid evening.
We then moved to the kitchen for a hands on Tuscan cooking lesson under the tutelage of Billy Ray. Chris began slicing a shallot for the Bruschetta and I peeled and sliced potatoes for mashing.
The Brushetta contained Bradley tomatoes, basil that we foraged from the herb garden in the verdant back yard, shallot, garlic and kosher salt. The salt lifted the water from the tomatoes. The guys basted a first press extra virgin olive oil on the artisan bread slices and grilled them on the Viking bar-b-q.
Two bottles of 2005 Piere' Sauvignon Blanc Vie Di Romans enhanced the cooking process (and our palettes) as we added whipping cream, melted butter and THEN whipped the potatoes, adding kosher salt and a LOT of finely ground black pepper. We put the olive oil and two sliced garlic cloves in a large skillet, wilted the fresh spinach and squeezed the juice of a large lemon over the leaves. Both the potatoes and spinach were placed in the oven at 150 degrees to keep warm.
Next we took a couple of beautiful 3-inch thick aged porterhouse steaks purchased at Whole Foods and basted them with the olive oil and kosher salt. We grilled them for 30-40 minutes searing the outside and monitoring the temperature until we acheived 135 degrees. The filet was removed early with a boning knife as it reached optimum temperature before the strip. With the grilling completed, we removed the remaining strip and then sliced with the grain into one inch strips. The pièce de résistance was pouring the sauce from fresh rosemary and sage that had infused on low heat with olive oil over the steak. The herbs were not added, only the fragrant juice. The juice of a lemon was then squeezed over the steak as well.
The wine (my favorite of the night) to complement the Steak Florentine was a 1997 Masseto Tenuta dell' Ornellia Super Tuscan. It was the Italian version of Petrus. What we call Merlot in America. Magnificent!!
The finale was a cheese course featuring Drunken Goat and Manchego with Quince paste. Our host then produced a bottle of Chris' favorite wine. An Amarone. And not just any Amarone, but a 1990 Guiseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella. Wow!!!!! Words cannot really describe this extraordinary nectar.
A magic experience. A moment to treasure. As Billy Ray toasted, "A New Friend Is A New Wine, And A New Wine Is A New Friend". And now let's sing a seven-fold Amen.