My parents had yet to see Claire and my home. Fortunately, I was working a Saturday breakfast and lunch shift at work, which meant I would have a free Saturday evening, which Claire and I took advantage of to invite my parents up.
A few months ago, my dad had purchased four bottles of Vellum’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Jeff Mathy, the proprietor of Vellum, grew up in Fullerton, and attended Fullerton High School where we overlapped two years. We tried the 2006 vintage at Christmas of last year and really enjoyed it, so my dad and I were both eagerly anticipating opening another bottle, but the right occasion had never surfaced…that is until now.
Knowing that my dad had this wine, I immediately figured steak was the way to go. Also for a few months now, I had seen at Costco prime beef, mainly New York Strip and Rib-Eye Steaks. They are about four dollars more a pound than the choice cuts, but I figured that the prime were worth the splurge. And the steaks were only twelve dollars per pound, which all things considering, is actually a great deal on such a beautiful cut of meat. I should have taken a picture of the prime next to the choice, because there is a huge difference in the marbling.
I lightly seasoned the steaks with pepper and Yakima Salt. On the package, Yakima Salt is described as “a naturally smoked salt with a subtle fruit applewood flavor from the Yakima Valley in Washington.” I reasoned that since I was going to cook them on cast iron inside, the smokiness of the salt would add a little more flavor than just regular salt.
I cooked the steaks on the cast iron griddle, which was great, save for the billows of smoke it created. Our kitchen is not equipped with a hood fan, so the smoke eventually set off about every fire alarm in our house. But at least we now know that our fire alarms work. The steaks did turn out amazing. The meat was very flavor and super tender.
As Claire and I discussed what else to fix, Claire suggested mashed sweet potatoes. I peeled and cut the potatoes into smaller pieces and boiled for 20 minutes. After draining them, I whipped them, adding ¾ stick of butter, a couple tablespoons of real maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne – I really love the little heat from the cayenne with the sweetness of the dish. (I did not measure how much of the spices I put in, as I just added until I liked the taste.) I then put the potatoes into an oven proof dish. Shortly before we were ready to eat, I topped the sweet potatoes with brown sugar and baked them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. They turned out amazing, basically tasting like pumpkin pie.
The steaks and the potatoes made a great combination, a very nice alternative to regular potatoes which is what I am used to serving with steak. And the Vellum Cab was great as well. It was very easy drinking, yet had a great fruity flavor to it. I found it to be nicely balanced between being too earthy, like some European wines can be, and too fruity, like some California wines.
To start the meal, I made a simple salad of fresh green beans and heirloom tomatoes from Jacinto Farms, sitting on a bed of arugula, topped with a homemade sherry vinaigrette. It was quite the lovely salad, from the colors, to the flavors (I am still amazed at the flavor of these tomatoes!), to the contrast in texture between the green beans and tomatoes. I guess you really don’t need much when you have such great produce to begin with.
Finally for dessert, I made Salted-Caramel Budino, which is Italian pudding. The recipe was an email sent to me from Tasting Table’s Chef Recipes. The pudding was rich and smooth. I especially loved the hint of saltiness that seemed to help make the dessert not too sweet.
It was a great evening for the Camps to host the Camps. After they left, I felt a stronger sense of pride in who Claire and I are becoming and the house we are making. While I am so grateful to everything that my parents have provided for me, and now Claire as well, there was something very good and special about hosting them. It is hard to describe, but very good nonetheless.