Look Ma…No Bacon! Bistecca alla Fiorentina and Rosemary-skewered Diver Scallops

Photobucket

Ahhh…midsummer in Southern California….we’ve had many weeks of blistering hot weather this summer. This week, though, we’re mercifully enjoying a cool spell. It’s only in the mid-80’s instead of the triple digits we were experiencing a few weeks ago. We’re right on the cusp of harvest season. Well, harvest season is year-round here but we’re at the pinnacle now. The tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters.

Photobucket

Photobucket

That looks like a good one:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The Japanese Eggplant’s little star-shaped blue flowers are producing fruit too:

Photobucket

Photobucket

And the vineyard….well, let’s just say it looks like this year will be the first vintage of “New House of the Dope”. (A play on Chåteauneuf-du-Pape, which means, roughly, “New House of the Pope”. The main grapes in Chåteauneuf-du-Pape being Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre…though it can be made legally from 13 different varieties of grapes.) Well, I got me some Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre this year…thank you very much…and they’re undergoing véraison as we speak:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Well, at least some of them are. Some haven’t even started the process of véraison yet:

Photobucket

And one of my Syrah vines is almost ready to pick!

Photobucket

Photobucket

What to do? I’ve only made wine once and that was with a kit with boxed juice in a winemaking shop….oh…and by the way… it was shite. If one is making a blend of 3 different grapes (with maybe a pinch of Cabernet Sauvignon), does one wait until ALL the grapes are completely ripe? What about the grapes that ripened early? By that time, they’ll be raisins. Does one just wait until some are overripe and some are underripe in the hopes that their flavors will somehow combine to form a harmonious flavor profile? I know some wineries pick some of their grapes super-early and use the juice as a natural acidifier. Hmmmmm…these are all questions for a future winemaking blog, I think.

Anyway…all this talk about tomatoes and wine and eggplant is making me hungry for something Italian…..something Tuscan. I love Tuscany. I’ve been thinking about Italy a lot lately. About 8 years ago, my husband and I spent a week at Collelungo, an agriturismo halfway between Florence and Siena. They produce fantastic Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva, which is available on the honor system, 24-hours a day in their little wine bar area. You can just go pick your bottle, sign your name and bring it back up to your room. Every morning, they would deliver fresh bread made 10 minutes away in the town of Castellina in Chianti. The rooms have kitchens, so I would make us meals with the local produce every day. One rainy afternoon, we abandoned our plan of driving into Florence and ended up ‘checking out’ two bottles of 1997 Chianti Classico Riserva and getting hammered while staring out at the rainswept vineyards. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. That night, the rain let up and we stumbled drunkenly to a local restaurant in town and had one of the region’s specialties: Bistecca alla Fiorentina. It’s basically a huge grilled Porterhouse steak…really simple…with just salt and pepper. maybe a little rosemary, grilled over a wood fire with maybe a squeeze of lemon. It’s frickin’ heaven.

Well, that’s what I’ve got a hankering for tonight. I was in the mood for steak….not Porterhouse, though. I’m a rib-eye girl. Preferably bone-in…but I found this gorgeous dry-aged, boneless rib-eye at
Whole Paycheck:

Photobucket

I mean…look at it! It’s a thing of beauty.

Photobucket

1-1/2 inches thick! That’s what I’m talking ‘bout!

Photobucket

Our friend Brady is hanging out tonight, playing guitars. He doesn’t eat meat, so I thought I’d thread some diver scallops onto rosemary skewers and grill them up along with the steak.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The rosemary is from the garden. It grows like a weed here. I’ve got upright rosemary
and trailing rosemary. You want to use the upright rosemary with the long, straight, spiky branches. Just grasp each branch by it’s tip and slide your fingers down, pulling the needles as you go.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Then, just chop up the needles finely and reserve for the steak.

Photobucket

Season the steak well with fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and rub it all over with the chopped rosemary. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it and really rub it in. (Notice the spelling out of ‘extra virgin olive oil’…..not EVOO….God, that woman irritates me. Cooks have been saying EVO…not EVOO…for years and she acts like she invented it.) Just to spite her I’m going to spell that shit out.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Thread those sweet scallops on that rosemary. I’m threading them twice because these bitches are heavy. Season with salt, no pepper (I don’t like black pepper on scallops but use it if you must) and hit’em with that EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. Rub a little bit of that chopped rosemary into the scallops but not too much because rosemary is pretty pungent for fish.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Let’s go check on the fire. (Oh, I lit it…by the way…while I was babbling about winemaking.) We’re using almond wood today. The grocery store sells it as firewood. I just lit a fire a couple of hours ago and now it’s turning to coals. I LOVE the smell of almond wood. God, is there any wood smoke I don’t like? Actually, there is but I don’t know the name of it. It’s something we used to buy as firewood from the store. It was all shreddy (almost hairy) looking. Anyway…it smelled like ass when you burned it. We called it the ass wood. Anyway, I digress:

Photobucket

When the fire has burned down to coals, throw that steak on. For a 1-1/2” thick steak, it’ll take 20 minutes…ten minutes on each side…and then another 10-15 minutes to rest. Throw it down and close the lid. You want to capture the smoke and make a hot roasting environment.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

After 10 minutes, open it up and turn the steak over. Add the scallops and close the lid again. Then after 5 minutes, open up, turn the scallops and close the lid again.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

After another 5 minutes, open up again and take the steaks off. You can leave the scallops on for a few more minutes if you think they feel soft. I think mine were on for about 12-13 minutes and they were really soft and tender.

Photobucket

Go ahead and cover them both lightly with aluminum foil and let them rest while you get the rest of your shit together. I’ve been making bread all weekend. Here’s proof:

Photobucket

Ouch! When I was a baker in a restaurant, my arms were covered from fingertip to elbow with burns just like that. My shrink got all freaked out once and I thought I was burning myself. I was like…no really…I’m way to much of a wimp to do that to myself intentionally..trust me. The best part of that burn? After it blistered up, Maggie SCRATCHED it off my arm. I ran over to Sean and I was like: “Ahhhhhhh..take her!!”

So, anyway, we’ve got fresh bread thanks to Angelnina’s wonderful blog. I’m going to pop that in a preheated 350 degree oven to crisp it up before dinner while the meat is resting.

Photobucket

To drink….unfortunately, we don’t have any of those lovely Chianti Classico Riservas from Collelungo, though I have seen them at the Wine House in LA before. Instead, I have the American version: 1993 Shafer Firebreak (a mostly Sangiovese blend with a little Cabernet in the style of the Super Tuscans). I bet that’ll be drinking really nicely now and it’ll be perfect with the steak.

Photobucket

A Grüner Veltliner would be nice with the scallops but Brady is drinking beer tonight, so I won’t bother opening it.

Speaking of the guys…they’ve been out jamming in the garage, teaching Maggie to play keyboard so she can back them up:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Let’s go check on them and see if they’re ready to eat……mmmmm….the hammock will have to wait for now.

Photobucket

“So….y’all ready to eat? Dinner’s ready.”

Photobucket

I’m just going to toss a quick mixed green salad with some of those tomatoes I picked earlier. I just drizzle a good grassy EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL over the greens, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice and grind some sea salt and black pepper over it. I don’t generally bother with making a vinaigrette when I’m throwing a salad together at the last minute. I do like to shave a little Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.

Photobucket

That steak is big enough for the both of us meat eaters, so I’m just going to slice it up and divide it on the plate. 20 minutes…10 minutes resting….nicely medium rare:

Photobucket

All righty….bread’s out of the oven and crispy. We’re ready to serve:

Photobucket

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve got so much SHIT all over my dining room table (as it has become my office since Maggie was born) that we end up eating in front of the TV watching the Astros most nights:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Ahhhh…back to the to the intoxicating mid-summer night. Maggie has gone down and I can relax.

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in”

Photobucket

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: