Sunday, April 14, 2013

Winefest Renaissance 2013; a Success

Well, the Winefest Rennaisance 2013 event was held last evening at the Ward Hotel in Aberdeen. All proceeds are for the benefit of the Boys and Girls club of Aberdeen. Mine was the official Wine and Food Pairing and Rating table. My sister in law came to help me out, for which I am extremely grateful. My foods were a hit, and my pairings were spot-on. Word got around and we had people waiting for a seat most of the time. It was a little bit of a madhouse at first. The idea was to have people rate the wines as they tasted, and some did work at it early on. After an hour or so of tasting all kinds of wines, few people had any interest at all in the rating part. The food and the wine pairings continued to hold their interest. 

Squash, Apple, Leek and Asiago Triangles

In all, I created 8 new recipes just for this event. I wrote about the Squash, Apple, Leek and Asiago mixture. I made extra to fill a galette for dinner a few nights back. Last night I served the mixture rolled into Phyllo triangles. Sadly, they were the least sought after of the appetizers. Most people wanted to try a particular food, so they were served the wine that paired with that food. The Squash Apple Leek and Asiago Triangles were delicious paired with the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay Grand Reserve. The flavor of the apples was made more apparent when the wine was sampled alongside the appetizer.

The absolute biggest hit of the night was the Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Walnut Spread, which was served paired with the Conn Creek 'Herrick' Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The pairing was particularly wonderful together, but people just liked the Flank Steak flavors and word got around. We had people saying, "I heard I had to come down here and try these little Steak Appetizers!" Not the wine, mind you, though it was a great wine for the pairing.

Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Walnut Spread

Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Walnut Spread
Makes about 50 rolls, depending on size of steak

1 flank steak, cleaned of excess fat

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large knob fresh ginger, grated (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1½ teaspoons salt
Few grinds of black pepper
½ cup olive oil

½ cup walnuts
¾ cup Gorgonzola crumbles, about 4 ounces
2 ounces cream cheese
2½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon Grains of Paradise
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons good olive oil 

Fresh Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Combine marinade ingredients in a ziptop bag, place the flank steak into the marinade so it lays flat and marinate overnight, turning at least once to redistribute the marinade. 

MAKE GORGONZOLA SPREAD: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before chopping into very small bits. Set aside.

Place the Gorgonzola crumbles and the cream cheese with the rosemary into a medium bowl. Blend these ingredients together using a hand mixer or a wooden spoon. With a mortar and pestle, crush the Grains of paradise. Add the salt, pepper and the garlic cloves and smash to a dry paste. Add to the bowl of cheeses and mix well. Add in the olive oil and mix until well combined. Fold in the nuts.

  • If you do not have Grains of Paradise, add in at least another ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.
  • If you do not own a mortar and pestle, crush the Grains of Paradise in a small zip-top bag with the flat side of a heavy meat tenderizer. Smash the garlic thoroughly and combine in a small bowl with the back of a spoon, along with the salt and pepper.
  • If using a block of Gorgonzola cheese rather than crumbles, it may be slightly moister than the crumbles. Watch when adding the olive oil as all may not be needed. 
BROIL FLANK STEAK: Heat the broiler with a rack quite close to the element. Set a rack on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray; this helps with cleanup later. Remove the steak from the bag and discard the marinade. Set steak on rack and broil for 6 minutes on each side. The meat should be medium rare. Remove from oven and tent with foil for at least 15 minutes.

Slice the meat at an angle across the grain of the meat. The long strips can then be cut in half. Make little balls with about a scant teaspoon of the Gorgonzola Walnut Spread. Roll each of the strips of meat around a ball of the spread. Skewer with a toothpick to hold in place. Garnish with the rosemary leaves.

NOTE: I never like to toast walnuts or any nuts when recipes call for this. The gorgonzola walnut spread was meant to have strong flavors to pair with an assertive Cabernet Sauvignon. In the recipe for the spread I did toast the walnuts, as I felt this would make the flavor stand out more. I had so many raves over this recipe, both for the flavors of meat and filling themselves, as well as for how well they paired with the wine.

Indian Spiced Chicken with Cilantro Sauce

The pairing that surprised me the most was the Anderra Carmenere and the Indian Spiced Chicken with Cilantro Sauce. I hoped the flavors would go well together. I had not tasted any of the wines prior to creating these recipes, so I was going strictly on the descriptions for the wines that I could find online. The Anderra, being from Chile, seemed like it should go well with spices and cilantro. I smelled the wine when I opened it and was pretty sure it wouldn't be a wine I liked, just based on that initial sniff. As with all things, one should not judge too quickly. When I actually tasted it, it surprised me no end. Flavors of pepper and cherry came through and made it quite interesting. I tasted it with the Indian Spiced Chicken with the Cilantro Sauce and it was amazing. I had been having people ask for that wine and food pairing second only to the Cabernet and Flank Steak.

I will write more on this event in a couple of days, but for now, I am glad it is over, and now I can focus on such other things as making a wedding cake and moving. I believe the Winefest was a success, and if it becomes an annual event, this should have given everyone a solid basis for the knowledge of what went well and what needed improvement. For a first time event of this magnitude, I believe it was spectacular.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.