It's been a year since my aunt and cousin visited us, but more importantly, it's been a year since our great wagyu dinner. Ah yes, when my aunt smuggled over a few chunks of the most amazing Hokkaido wagyu steak for us. Dinner on a Friday evening, with the family and friends that matter most to me. I was so, so excited, because I had already tasted one of the A5 steaks on the Wednesday, and really, if there's ever an ingredient that will instantly make you pop, wagyu is it.
If you've been reading LCF for a while, you'll know that while I always, always stress that wine belongs on the table with food, I don't bother fussing with specific food/wine matches. What's the point? I get that yes, you have to be wary of how the food is going to affect the wine, but too many people are overly concerned with the whole what's the exact wine that I NEED to be drinking with this dish?! Chill out a bit. But now, having said that . . . it was crucial for me that I picked out a good wine for these steaks.
So you go through a few different things in your head. Pinot noir? Almost too subtle to be appreciated against the richness of the beef. White Burgundy? That richness worried me, and I didn't have any old Chablis on hand. Bordeaux? Barolo? All a bit too structured, especially as yet again, I only had young bottles on hand. Mosel, Rheingau, Ontario rieslings - all a bit too lean, and sweetness has no place alongside the emperor of beef. So what does that leave? Well actually . . . a lot. But in the little cold room I call my cellar, my choices were limited, and I kind of wanted a mature wine I'd been holding for a few years.
The go-to wine for really any kind of dish, that satisfies both taste and sense of occasion . . . . . vintage Champagne, duh!!! So I pulled a bottle of 1999 Charles Ellner Séduction Brut. My selection thought process? First, you think of a wine with great acidity, to balance the richness and fat of the wagyu. A certain assertiveness in both flavour and texture, because wimpy wines are the worst. And a touch of maturity, because after all, the wine has to be interesting too. Any other suggestions besides Champagne?! I thought not.
Funny story: I've never screwed up opening a bottle of Champagne (or any other sparkling wine) like I did with this bottle. Unbeknownst to everyone, a ring of mold had developed in between the cork and lip of the neck. So, when I undid the wire cage . . . BAM . . . the cork released and shot into the light fixture. Thankfully, I had really chilled the wine down, so we didn't lose anything. I can laugh about it now because it's not like I was trying to impress anyone, but can you imagine if I was trying to charm a girl?? No harm done, and after a wonderful start of Kumamoto oysters and tuna sashimi, it was time for the main event.
One of the steaks had the most beautiful strip of fat on one side, so I cut it off and seared the beef in its own fat. Basting the whole time, cooking it to a solid rare. We were speechless - the whole fucking table was just in beef paradise. Absolutely no words to describe the flavour, the texture, the feel of the beef in your mouth.
I'll never forget the time my aunt smuggled in beef for me. Love you!!!!!!!!