Monday, March 27, 2006

Food and meta-food

Mildly jet-lagged still, and neither of us having had proper meat in a while, we were both in need of some serious animal protein. I bought two tenderloin steaks at Whole Foods - naturally fed beasts, no hormones or antibiotics, not organic because the grass they ate was not pesticide-free, but still, gleaming enough. I also bought attractive organic mustard greens, which I parboiled in nearly boiling salted water before sauteeing in olio aglio peperoncino, and then covering and letting stew with a little of the cooking water. The thick, round, gorgeous steaks were browned on both sides on a high flame - on a non-stick pan, without any fats - along with our fresh rosemary and thyme in abundance, some fresh oregano, some sel de Guérande, and very coarsely ground black pepper, in abundance too. They then waited on a plate while I déglacéd the pan with some Marsala, before returning them to the pan, on a lower flame, for a few minutes more than planned, having realized that, thick as they were, they were not only rare, as wished, but still cold and raw inside. Meanwhile, I uncovered the mustard greens to let the remaining liquid evaporate.
The steak turned out positively melting, a luxurious, sensuous dish and a magnificent piece of meat, well paired with the slightly bitter greens. To match the quality of the animal we were eating, I opened a bottle that had been given us, a Chateau Beychevelle 1999 - already mellow, profound, precise and powerful but subtly layered, medium-bodied but tannic, long en bouche but without insistence, dark with a discreet and almost jocular brightness. I had also bought some organic - Canadian-made - sopressata, which we had as aperitivo while we waited for everything to be ready, and again after the main course, with the usual arugula and fennel salad, seasoned with olive oil, lemon and a little salt, this time with Manchego sliced in rather than parmesan. The wine had matched the steak in mellowness but accompanied the slightly sharp, mildly sweet cheeses and the crunchy salad too. It also rose up to the level of Handel's Dixit dominus, which we listened to as we finished the bottle, munching on a little parmesan in order to match the composer in counterpoint. Sensorial heaven, metaphysical joys only achieved with the best of material things.
Noga - 27 March 2006


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