Friday, June 13, 2014

Grilled Ribeye meets CabSauv

The passion at Hopcott’s meats ( ) is nothing short of inspirational: this is what ribeye steak is supposed to be! And yet I hear time and time again from people that $15 on a steak is “just silly” and spending an extra $1/lb for free range/antibiotic free ground beef is “wasting money”. Well I’m pretty sure that a lot of the reasons we should all be investing in local butchers is not getting out there and so I knew I had to write an article on:

Why should you spend the money?

You and I both know that some grocery store in your neighborhood is selling striploin steaks this week: 4 for $12 or something similar. Great deal right? Who doesn’t like getting more for less? But then there’s the crux: are you really getting more?
On the one hand you’ve got bargain steaks at your grocer: cheap, probably not trimmed very well but you and I can handle that… probably more gristle/sinew/tendon then we would like as well, but we’re willing to swallow that *(pun intended). But what about the nutritional value? When you consume grass-fed beef, you increase your:
  • Better Saturated Fat Profile
  • Better Polyunsaturated Fat Profile
  • More Antioxidants
What is your family's health worth?
What is your family’s health worth?
I take a look at the world around me and it doesn’t take a scientist to tell me that fresh beef from my own town is going to be better for me then something frozen for 6 months, then thawed, from Uruguay or Texas. I like the fact that when I walk into Hopcott’s, I can shake hands with the people that raised the cattle that is going on my table. I let my daughter eat beef jerky and pepperoni. Why? Because I know the people that make it, fresh every week. No additives. No preservatives… like when I was a kid growing up on the Prairies.
And so when people ask me how I can pay $10 or more for a single steak I just shake my head. When was the last time you bought a steak at a restaurant?? You know you aren’t getting any decent steak for $10 anywhere and if you go upscale? Try Las Vegas my friends – $60 and $80 steaks are the norm there. Now go back to Hopcott’s and ask them how much ribeye you get for $80 and start smiling!
But how do I, a chef with over 25 years’ experience, cook a steak like this? There are some basic rules that I, and most quality chefs, follow.
1. let the meat come to room temperature before grilling; this allows the muscle to relax and creates a more tender steak
2. ensure your grill is HOT; you want to sear the outside of the steak as quickly as possible to keep those lovely juices inside the steak and not on the bottom of your grill. 500C minimum for searing
3. cook your steak less than you think you need to, then let it rest longer than you think it needs; never forget residual heat in the steak will continue to cook it… I bring mine just to medium-rare, rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve and they are usually just a shade under medium
Now when I was prepping for this article I actually starting second guessing myself and so asked my friend, Mike Lindsay, who is Hopcott’s head butcher his thoughts on the subject. This is a guy who has a profound respect for beef; hard not to when you actually visit the animals as they’re growing up and look them in the eyes. This was the man I needed to show me a new trick or two when it comes to the barbeque. His thoughts on grilling great ribeyes??
“A little olive oil, some salt… maybe a pinch of pepper. Maybe.”
IMG_5811Bravo my friend – couldn’t have said it any better myself. Oh sure, you can fancy it up by finishing the steak with a little compound butter *(infused) such as roasted garlic, French thyme or my favorite Boursin infused butter… damn, it’s better than hollandaise! But  when you’ve got great components, try letting them speak for themselves.
This dinner we had to celebrate the sunshine had virtually no seasonings at all: the steak is just olive oil/salt/pepper, the beets are au naturel, the potatoes just a hint of butter, the carrots a light fireweed honey glaze and the salad is just lemon and olive oil. All of this is from Hopcott’s, because you know they have a fantastic produce selection now as well, and all from within 30 miles or so of my house.  Such concentration of flavors! All that was left for me was to choose the wine and I had a couple of beauties I’ld been saving for just such an occasion: a bottle each of Argentinian and Napa Cab-Sauv. They complement the steak in different ways and are both excellent values in any market.

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012IMG_5806

by Bodega VistAlba (

90+ points, Excellent Value

… young, this CabSauv is a babe in the woods and will seriously benefit from another 2-3 years in the cellar. That being said, it was a treat that I knew was going to pair brilliantly with grilled ribeye steak. The thing to remember with Argentinian Cabs, personally, is that they are truly designed to go with food, and this is a perfect example. Ultra-ripe dark currant, black raspberry and dark floral aromas swirl through the glass *(think irises and dark roses). When you take your first sip, razor sharp full acid seems to bite at your lips creating a brilliant frame for full, finely-textured tannin and a symbiotic balance for the richness of slightly fatty grilled meat. This is a classic interpretation of what Bordeaux’s (arguably) greatest varietal can do in the South American land of cowboys, steaks and bold wine. Drink now, or hold for a decade plus, this wine can be enjoyed 2014-2025.

Louis M Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010IMG_5802

91 points, Excellent Value

… I never expected this; that I would one day be singing the praises of a mega-producer like Martini. But I must give credit where it’s due and these professionals have crafted an incredibly reasonably priced introduction into “What Is Napa”. From the opening bouquet of warm blackberry/currant compote, wild scrub-brush on the hillside, savory herbs and graphite minerality every aspect to the wine quietly declares its craftsmanship. Medium+ dark raspberry acids are far too well balanced for the good of the consumer who, when testing the wine to judge its quality, quickly finds that he or she has savored half the bottle before dinner is even cooked and guests have arrived. Ultra fine tannin feel chalky, full of dimension, and needing to be chewed a little – making the prospect of grilled meat seem a necessity rather then indulgence. Make no mistake about it, this is one of the great values in California Cab today… full of life, feel free to cellar some if you must though it seems a shame as it’s truly come into it’s own. Enjoy 2014-2019+
Maybe you’re close enough to Pitt Meadows to stop off at Hopcott’s and say hello. They’re mighty friendly folks and you’ll be glad you did. But if you aren’t then maybe you’ll take a moment and Google “local butchers”… these small businesspeople are in the business of providing the very best quality for you that is possible. Not the cheapest food, the best food. And really, aren’t you and your family worth that?
 Many thanks to Hopcott’s meats for the fine victuals, to Patagonia Imports ( ) for the Tomero and to my friend Peter Marshall at Gallo Imports ( ) for the fine bottle of Martini Cab.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions. Here, or:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine