Good Wine Cheap
(and good food to go with it)
by John Grover
I will start to plant my lettuce in early Spring, about six varieties in fact. And, it is time to think of the ways to turn all this produce into wonderful meals. Dinner salads are a staple in our house. We recently tried the recipe below and were very pleased with it.
The wine this month is the 2009 Claret from the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection and is produced in Geyserville, California. Yes, this is the same Francis Coppola of Hollywood fame. This “Claret” is a Bordeaux blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller percentages of Malbec, Petite Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This deep red wine is characterized by the taste of lush red fruits leaning toward dark cherry on the palate. It is aged in oak, but is not at all overpowered by that fact. The result is an elegant and smooth wine reminiscent of evening long dinners spent on the sidewalk cafes of Paris. This is great value for between $13 and $17 a bottle.
Rare Roast Beef with Fresh Herbs and Basil Oil
(recipe adapted from version printed on foodandwine.com; original recipe from Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells, a true cooking diva; this cookbook is available at Amazon.com)
1 ˝ pound, beef eye of round roast;
˝ cup mix of finely chopped rosemary, mint and tarragon,
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
salt and freshly ground pepper.
For the basil oil:
2 cups fresh basil leaves,
and a ˝ cup of extra virgin olive oil (prepared basil oil is also available in many stores).
Preheat the oven to 475°. Generously coat the roast with half of the chopped herb mixture and season with salt and pepper.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the roast and lightly brown it on all sides, about 3 minutes.
Remove any excess fat from skillet, return the meat to it and roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 110°, about 25 minutes.
Transfer the roast to a cutting board and season again with salt and pepper.
Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the basil in the saucepan for 15 seconds. Transfer the basil to the ice water; drain well and squeeze out all of the excess water. Transfer the basil to a blender.
Add the 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and blend thoroughly.
Thinly slice the roast and drizzle each portion with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon basil oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped herbs and serve. We served this beef over plates of a spring mix of lettuce tossed with the basil oil and seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper.
I hope that you will contact me with your comments and
favorite wines at
will be happy to share them with the broader Mensa group.
John Grover is a member of Mensa of Northeastern New York. He lives with his wife Sharon in the Hudson Valley of New York.