Last night we pretended we didn't have kids and ate late. Seeing how her birthday is just a few days away I made a special dinner just for Mrs TWC.
Start with crisp bright green butter lettuce. Add thinly sliced avocado lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Then add crumbled Amish bleu cheese, carmelized pears, carmelized walnuts, and a little chopped egg. Drizzle just a tiny bit of Vidalia onion/honey mustard dressing or a tease of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.
Start with a choice filet. Let it warm to room temperature while you season it with finely diced shallots, fresh ground pepper, and coarse kosher salt. Grill it with mesquite (freshly acquired from one of our mesquite trees) until it's medium rare and juicy. You must use a real bar-b-que device because real men do not grill with propane. Serve with sauteed mushrooms.
A 2002 Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot, a Chilean wine produced by the Marnier family, the same folks who bring us Gran Marnier. The 2002 was created from dry-farmed grapes grown on sixty-year old vines.
It is a splendid wine, rich with black fruit and hints of dark chocolate, plus a little bit of black pepper and vanilla. The wine is quite substantial, an opulent, thick, purple-running-to-black color that is somewhat Bordeaux-like. It's bone dry with a lucious mouthful of yummy velvet that is not quite the liquid velvet of a really excellent, properly cellared cab. At the end there is a distinctively earthy feel on the backside.
Like many good Merlots the wine can easily stand in for a Bordeaux or Cabernet. It enhanced the mesquite flavor (and the black pepper) of the filets without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the carmelized pears.
Best of all, and this has been a consistent theme with TWC with respect to Chilean wines, it didn't give me the allergic reaction that many Chilean and Spanish wines tend to do. Nope, not the sulfites either, which all wines contain, both naturally and as an added preservative. My allergies to those certain wines is typical of what we think of as an allergic reaction. Stuffy head and sinus, mild headache, itchy eyes, couple of sneezes, more than likely brought on by the histamines in the wine. And mine always comes post mortem, ie, the next morning. Little Claritin usually takes care of it.
Cook the Sauteed mushrooms like this.
THE CARMELIZED PEARS
Firm ripe fruit. Dice into half inch cubes. Melt some butter in an omlette pan. Melt some brown sugar in the same pan. Use a wooden utensil to mix the sugar and butter together until smooth. Every time the butter threatens to get too hot pour a little Chardonnay into the pan (this is one other thing white wine is good for). Then pour a little more Chard into the pan. You'll find that the Chardonnay will bring forth the pear flavors nicely. Sautee the pears until browned. Set aside to cool.
THE CARMELIZED WALNUTS
When you're done with the pears put some more butter and more brown sugar into the same pan. Use the same wooden utensil to mix it up until smooth and no sugar remains visible. Add a small amount of Chardonnay. Coarsely chop the walnuts and dump them into the mixture (which should be frothy by now). Cook stirring frequently until crispy. Not too long or you'll have something that resembles Walnut Brittle. Toss the stuff onto a plate. Let cool before tasting (I'm not kidding you'll burn your fingers and your tongue). Once cool break clumps apart.
No precision measuring here here because cooking is an intuitive art that's best done on the fly. My best guess is to use about a half stick of butter on each. About a quarter cup of brown sugar. About a quarter cup of Chardonnay. If it doesn't look right in the pan it probably needs more of something or less of something else.