By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor
There are few pairings that are as classic – and delicious – as Cabernet Sauvignon and steak, and Wildfire Restaurant in McLean, VA showcased this fantastic pairing at their Steak and Cabernet Lover’s Wine Dinner. Wildfire hosted a 5-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Eddie Ishaq, with each course paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon from a different region. In addition, the dinner featured Todd Leiberman from Stock Yards Packing, Wildfire’s exclusive supplier of their premium steaks and chops.
The event began with a reception featuring two appetizers - mini beef pies and a beef short rib crostini paired with a Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County, CA (2011). The beef short rib crostini was terrific – the beef was incredibly tender and was perfectly accented by the au jus. The Cabernet Sauvignon chosen to pair with these two appetizers was light, balanced, and fruity, with hints of dark fruit on the nose. It was the perfect wine to pair with these two appetizers.
The first course of the evening was a beef carpaccio accompanied by a mixed microgreens salad, olive oil, and a lemon herb vinaigrette, paired with an Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, CA (2011). It was a spicier Cabernet with a ton of fruit on the nose and a clean finish, which paired beautifully with the thinly sliced carpaccio and balanced the acidity of the vinaigrette. It was during this course that the beauty of the meat really shined. Stock Yards has been Wildfire’s partner for 15 years and provides all of the corn-fed, Midwestern stock that Wildfire features in each of its seven locations (the McLean location is the only Wildfire on the East Coast). Stock Yards’ beef is aged from 21-28 days and uses a wet-aging process on the beef that is delivered to Wildfire which allows the beef to develop a deep richness and tenderness. It is Wildfire’s unique relationship with Stock Yards that allows the restaurant the opportunity to showcase some of the finest cuts of beef the Midwest has to offer.
The second course of the dinner was a Beef Wellington accompanied by a mushroom duxelle, roasted potatoes, and sauce au poivre. Chef Ishaq prepared the Wellington perfectly – the flaky puff pastry perfectly encased the medium-rare beef, with the mushroom duxelle adding a layer of earthiness to the dish. The earthiness of the mushrooms paired perfectly with the featured wine: a Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, CA (2011). Smooth and fruity, with hints of black cherry and dark fruit on the nose, this wine stood up to the rich flavors of the Wellington.
We then moved on to the third course, which were three artisan cheeses selected by Chef Ishaq. The cheese course featured a triple crème from St. Andes, a manchego, and a Spanish goat cheese, accompanied by red wine jam and crostini. This course was paired with an organic wine, a Novas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (2009). This wine was more of the Bordeaux-style – an earthier wine that paired perfectly with the rich cheese selections.
Chocolate and red wine is another great pairing, and Chef Ishaq capitalized on this with our final course – dessert – by pairing Graham’s Six Grapes Port with a Chocolate Lava Cake filled with gooey chocolate filling and accompanied by whipped cream. The ultimate indulgence.
An evening of fun, food, and wine, Wildfire did an excellent job of showcasing the many ways steak and Cabernet Sauvignon can be paired together. It was also wonderful to learn about the relationship between Wildfire and Stock Yards, giving Wildfire customers comfort that they are in fact eating some of the best beef that the Midwest has to offer. A perfect pairing, indeed!