First (homemade) steak in 10+ years

So, it turns out that I like steak. No one is more surprised than me, especially given that I went 13 years with no beef. In the last month, I’ve had or shared four steaks, plus steak on assorted salads. That’s a lot of steak, you guys!

Tonight marked my first attempt at making a real steak in at least 10 years. I’ve been back to eating beef for a year, but I’m still pretty intimidated by cooking it, which which made tonight’s steak success even more surprising. It was perfectly grilled, you guys, tender and moist, topped with a spicy horseradish chimichurri.

Cool steak u guys

Recipe: Grilled Sirloin with Horseradish Chimichurri from Fitness

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A Tale of Two Dinners

My birthday was this past weekend, and I am now 31.  As you may recall, last year’s birthday celebration involved a lot of free things and the construction of a croquembouche, the latter of which kicked off a year of baking adventures with new A2 friends.  While we did go for a few free things, the main plan for the day was a fancy dinner, the destination of which was unknown to me until Friday, when an errant emailer let it slip that we were going to Eve, and then would be meeting friends for drinks after.

It is at this point that I should fill you in on a few extenuating circumstances.  First, on Friday night we ate all the food and drank all the drinks – specifically wine and fondue at Shana’s, followed by a round of drinks at Eve, followed by another round at Alley Bar, followed by the sort of drunken falling over antics more befitting nearly-21 than nearly-31.  Needless to say, the idea of eating and drinking to excess made me a little queasy.  It’s been almost a week, and it still makes me a little queasy.

Second, Eve is closing – well, has closed at this point.  Sunday night was going to be their last night of service ever, which meant all manner of potential hitches: stuff missing from the menu, poor service because they were too busy, etc.  Both were the case when we were in for drinks on Friday.  Shane had made his reservation before they announced the closure, wanting to treat me to a nice dinner at one of A2’s fanciest restaurants.

With these things in mind, I asked Shane if he would mind terribly if we went elsewhere for dinner? Specifically possibly maybe Vinology, where we had a really excellent meal over the summer.  Except! Vinology wasn’t taking reservations because of Restaurant Week, and when we called at 6pm, there was a two hour wait for a table for two.  So we carried on with the original plan.

Except that we arrived late for our reservation (6pm, not 6:30).  And we were seated at a two top where we would’ve been more intimate dining companions with our neighbors than with each other.  Every time the door opened, Shane was treated to a gust of very cold air.  The server greeted us with the offer of a cocktail, but the warning that they’d had an open house that afternoon and sold off most of their bar.  They had one of thirty bottles available from the lower end of the wine list – the rest were sold out.  The bread came out without the wonderful butters promised by nearly every reviewer on Yelp, and at that point we decided to throw in the towel.

So we left, with me nearly in tears, feeling so guilty for being disappointed and wanting to go elsewhere when Shane had tried to make the evening so nice.  Shane asked what I thought we should do, and I asked if we could try Vinology?  He dropped me off, and I went in prepared to cry if it would get us a table.

Except that they’d had a cancellation, and so had a table for two available immediately!  I gushed to the host that he’d just made our evening, and we were tucked away in a cozy booth with gauze curtains separating us from our neighbors.  My stress and guilt melted away with Shane’s obvious enthusiasm for the menu: ample options for sharing and indulging in both wine and food, plus dessert on the house in honor of my birthday.  Over the course of the next two hours, we shared:

  • a sweet and savory salad of beets prepared with sherry vinegar and goat cheese
  • a plate of olives and assorted pickled vegetables, half of which I took home for later snacking
  • a half portion of the scallops – so one perfect buttery porcini-dusted scallop each, along with boursin whipped potatoes, mushroom ragout, french beans, and an  impossibly delicate vinaigrette
  • a half portion of grilled sirloin with a coffee-pepperberry rub, creamed swiss chard, and adequate sweet potato ravioli in a ginger soy butter sauce
  • a half portion of the same wonderful venison we enjoyed in june

We each enjoyed a wine flight with our meals, the result of which was a veritable wall of wine across our little table:

Wall of wine
For Shane, the Big Red, featuring a small pour each of Garnacha, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I had the Fruit Bomb: Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and a Shiraz that ranks among the best wines I’ve ever tried. We finished the meal with “Captain Crunch” ice cream, which tastes even better than you could possibly imagine:

Captain Crunch Ice Cream

While our meal wasn’t prepared by a former Top Chef contestant (or her staff), I’m confident when I say that this was one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed together.  Thank you, Vinology, for redeeming what could have been a very disappointing birthday evening, and thank you, Shane, for the treat, your company, and your patience and love.

0420 Steak Sarnies

I was vegetarian for ~6 years, and have only recently started eating beef again after 13 years away.  I mention this because tonight I made my second steak EVER.  EVER.  The last one was prepared maybe 9 years ago for a meat-eating ex as a Valentine’s or maybe birthday treat.  I was living in the first 12th Street apartment, and I remember carefully consulting my Joy of Cooking to figure out what the hell I was doing.  I had just started getting into cooking – at this point fresh packaged pasta and a sauce other than straight-up marinara was a fancy home-cooked meal – so who knows how that steak turned out.  I certainly don’t recall.

Tonight’s steak, on the other hand, was delicious.  After some consultation with my Plum Market butcher friends, I picked up a piece of flank steak, then sliced it thin and grilled it quickly on the cast iron grill pan.  We made quick sandwiches with the steak and a handful of arugula on slices of toasted Paesano spread with coarse ground mustard and a bit of mayonnaise.  The sandwiches were hearty and satisfying, especially with a Spotted Cow and some tangy cornichons on the side.  While I’m not sure that steak sarnies will enter our regular meal rotation, the simplicity of this dinner reminded me that a good sandwich is a beautiful thing.

Recipe:
Steak Sarnies from Happy Days with the Naked Chef