Friday, November 28, 2014

A Truffle and Wagyu Thanksgiving

A Truffle and Wagyu Thanksgiving
Fri 11/28/2014, 08:00p-10:30p

White Truffle
You might recall that I went to a truffle dinner at Maude a few weeks back. At the end of that meal, we were each presented with a truffle slicer and a membership to the restaurant's "Truffle Club," which allows members to purchase truffles through the restaurant. One of my dining companions took advantage of that offer, and bought two of the white beauties above for use at a post-Thanksgiving get-together.

Mexican Pizza with Truffles Chili Dog with Truffles
Given the abundance of truffle, it was decided that we should start by pairing the delicacy with the sluttiest foods possible. As such, I brought over a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, a staple of my sad childhood. I got the headiness of the truffle initially, but that quickly dissipated to the classic, comforting flavors of the faux-pizza. We didn't dare try it with the included Fire Sauce, for fear of overwhelming the truffle. That's exactly what happened with the Wienerschnitzel Chili Dog, though. Any semblance of the fungus was summarily obliterated on this one; it ate just like the middle-of-the-road dog it was.

Alpine Willy Wheat Ale
To drink, we started off with something on the lighter side, the Alpine Willy Wheat Ale. There wasn't much to this one, with its sweet, nutty flavors coming awfully close to something you might get from an American macro. Apropos for the fast food, I suppose.

Deluxe Chili Cheddar Fries with Truffles McRib with Truffles
The Del Taco Deluxe Chili Cheddar Fries showed off the best bouquet, with the truffle really making itself known at first. But again, the potency of the chili quickly took over, leaving little trace of the treat. Perhaps the worst pairing was with the McDonald's McRib. The limited-time offering demonstrated no truffle at all, and all we got was a mish-mash of sweet-tangy notes over a base of restructured "pork rib."

D'Artagnan Japanese Wagyu Striploin Steak D'Artagnan Japanese Wagyu Striploin Steak
My friend also purchased the "Japanese A-5 Wagyu New York Strip Steaks 24 oz. 4-pack" that he'd seen advertised at Costco for a while now. I'm still a bit surprised that Costco's even selling something like this, so I guess we weren't too shocked to discover that the beef was actually sourced Ariane Daguin's longstanding gourmet foods supplier D'Artagnan. As you can see, there was some beautiful marbling going on in the steaks.

DeBragga Miyazaki Wagyu Strip Steak DeBragga Miyazaki Wagyu Strip Steak
As a point of comparison, he also procured four samples of the "Japanese Wagyu Strip Steak - 12oz" from New York butcher DeBragga. Taking a look at the photos, it's clear that the marbling of these Miyazaki-raised specimens was at another, near ridiculous level.

2014 Founders Dirty Bastard
Next up was the 2014 Founders Dirty Bastard, a Scotch style ale that drank pretty true to its style, with plenty of caramel-y malt, roast, and slight bitterness, all in a smooth package.

Sous Vide Bath Sous Vide DeBragga Steak: Sous Vide Complete
The DeBragga was the first steak up to the plate, and we commenced with an example done sous vide. Naturally, the meat came out of the immersion circulator cooked, but rather unattractive looking.

Sous Vide DeBragga Steak: Finishing in Cast Iron Sous Vide DeBragga Steak: Done Cooking
As such, we definitely need to finish it in a cast iron pan, with butter, to give it a nice sear.

Sous Vide DeBragga Steak: Adding Truffles Sous Vide DeBragga Steak: Cut Open
After shaving some white truffle on top, we dug in. Unfortunately, the experience proved to us that there can indeed be too much of a good thing. The steak came out a gelatinous mass that didn't really eat like beef, but more like pure fat (the thinness of the cut probably didn't help, either). We couldn't even finish the entire thing. If anything's deserving of the moniker unctuous, this would be it.

2014 Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine
The seasonally-appropriate 2014 Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine was next, comprised of 50% barleywine brewed with pumpkins and aged in rye and brandy barrels as well as 50% fresh ale brewed with spices. In terms of aroma, this one had lots of spice, commingled with roasty pumpkin, while on the palate, you got the same, plus more maltiness and barrel character, along with a lingering fruit sweetness.

Cast Iron DeBragga Steak: Seasoned Cast Iron DeBragga Steak: Done Cooking
As with the example above, the second DeBragga steak was seasoned simply with salt and pepper. However, this one we cooked completely on cast iron, again with butter.

Cast Iron DeBragga Steak: Adding Truffles Cast Iron DeBragga Steak: Cut Open
This one turned out quite a bit better, thanks to the far less overwhelming amount of marbling present. There was actually a nice balance here between lean and fat, and texturally the strip was on point as well. Nice earthy accent from the truffle, too

2014 Figueroa Mountain Lizards Mouth Imperial Double IPA
Our lone IPA of the night was the 2014 Figueroa Mountain Lizards Mouth Imperial Double IPA. I found it rather one-note, just super pine-y, super hoppy, without much of the tropical citrus fruit that I like, nor much in terms of a malt counterpoint.

Potatoes Au Gratin Carrots
Another attendee prepared some potatoes gratiné and carrots to provide some semblance of balance to the meal.

2006 Noon Eclipse
A brief detour to wine brought us the 2006 Noon Eclipse, a Grenache blend from South Australia. Super intense nose on this one, bursting with loads of earthiness, jam, and spice. Taste-wise, you got more of that, intermingled with some savory, tart nuances as well, the whole thing finishing long. Pretty tasty.

Cast Iron D'Artagnan Steak: Seasoned Cast Iron D'Artagnan Steak: Cooking in Cast Iron
Moving on to the Costco/D'Artagnan steaks now, we began with a cast iron prep, again seasoned with S&P and cooked in butter.

Cast Iron D'Artagnan Steak: Done Cooking Cast Iron D'Artagnan Steak: Cut Open
We definitely did this one the rare side, verging on Pittsburgh style with its cold center and crispy crust. I found it quite satisfying though--with a hearty, toothsome beefy quality--and surprisingly well-integrated when it came to the copious amounts of marbling present.

2014 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
The beer of the night, unsurprisingly, was the 2014 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale, which was just picked up earlier in the day during GI's much hyped Black Friday release. Aged in third-use barrels that previously held bourbon and later the brewery's own Bourbon County Stout, this smelled amazing, with boatloads of heady dark fruit goodness joined by notes of the barrel. On the palate, we got wave upon wave of chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and more bourbon character, everything leading to a long-lasting finish brimming with more dark fruit. I actually liked this better than the '13, which was already damn good.

Sous Vide D'Artagnan Steak: Finishing in Cast Iron Sous Vide D'Artagnan Steak: Cut Open
Last up to bat was the Costco stripsteak, this one done sous vide and finished in the pan. It was the winner tonight, with the best, most cohesive presentation of lean and fat, a delicious, delightfully-texture example that wasn't far off from what you'd get at a good steakhouse.

2013 Widmer Brothers Barrel-Aged Old Embalmer
The 2013 Widmer Brothers Barrel-Aged Old Embalmer had a hard time following up the BCBBW, and paled in comparison. Also a barleywine, and aged in pinot noir barrels, it was much thinner, less substantial and less powerful. The nose was light caramel and malt, while there was more to the taste, with the barrel character coming through, alongside an apparent hoppy bitterness.

Chocolate Malted Krunch Chocolate Malted Krunch with Truffles
Dessert also veered toward childhood indulgences and comprised a tub of Rite-Aid/Thrifty Chocolate Malted Krunch, along with white truffle. It was perhaps the best pairing, with the earthiness of the truffle adding a great savory edge to the sweetness of the ice cream. Yum.

2014 Southern Tier Goat Boy
Finishing things off was the 2014 Southern Tier Goat Boy, an imperial weizenbock. This one had the classic aromas of banana, caramel, and spice, while in terms of taste, we noted more banana goodness and spice, along with dark fruit, malt, and a distinct bread-y quality.

Lessons learned from tonight (none too surprising): there is such a thing as too much marbling, and there's a damn good reason why you pair fresh white truffle with simple, more delicately flavored dishes like risotto.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

another obvious example of too much $$$ and not enough brains...

Saturday, December 06, 2014 9:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chef Stone should ban you from ever returning... truly a snapshot of our culture in decline. And Taco Bell is my favorite fast food.

Saturday, December 06, 2014 3:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a waste.

For someone that eats at so many fantastic restaurants as you do, you'd think you'd pick up some ideas on what not to do.

Some simple, buttery, scrambled eggs on toast would have been far more fitting for that truffle.

Also, fatty Japanese beef needs high heat the entire time. Sous vide is actually terrible for cooking steaks, no matter how many chefs claim otherwise.

Saturday, December 06, 2014 7:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? You threw away steak because it was "too fatty?" Do you know how many starving children there are in Africa? Or starving college students like me?

Saturday, December 06, 2014 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Anon: I don't necessarily disagree with that. Remember, not my money.

Anon: Why me? I'm not the one who organized this.

Anon: Again, not my call on what was done here. I was just along for the ride and documenting.

Anon: Don't give me the "starving children in Africa" line. Food waste is unfortunate, but is a much bigger problem than we're dealing with here. We ended up eating around 90% of that steak, in any case.

Sunday, December 07, 2014 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should bring the truffle to olive garden

Sunday, December 07, 2014 3:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like you had fun experimenting with that beautiful beef. That 4 pack somehow always end up in my cart but I've never followed through with it. Probably best left to expert hands anyway.

Sunday, December 07, 2014 6:49:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

man, if I posted about my wine dinners, I think your anonymous posters might shit a brick.

Wasn't a huge fan of the BCBW this year, but the BCBCS is as good as usual (found my way into 5 4 packs!)

Sunday, December 07, 2014 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure why you'd waste your time with negative comments. Great write up and I found myself laughing at a few of the truffle pairings. Thank you Kevin!

Monday, December 08, 2014 1:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You overcooked the shit out of the first steak that's why it was a gelatinous mess. You need to sear it rare when eating Wagyu.

I can't believe I am craving a taco bell mexican pizza now! LOL

Monday, December 08, 2014 3:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin - it may not be your money but from your post it sounds like it was at least partly your idea... "Given the abundance of truffle, it was decided that we should start by pairing the delicacy with the sluttiest foods possible. As such, I brought over a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza..." so I guess my not enough brains comment still applies. SMH.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014 7:04:00 AM  
Blogger Victor Nguyen said...

Who cares what they used the truffles for. it was their dinner so they decide what ingredients to use. Of course there is better items to pair it with. But what most people don't get is it was for a comical stand point.

Friday, December 12, 2014 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger Kelvin said...

Of all the obvious pairing for truffle with slutty foods, I'm surprised you guys didn't do KFC. I think truffles would actually go quite well with that. Maybe next time.

For such an well marbled piece of meat, I agree that cooking some completely on the cast iron was a great approach. The fat needs to break down and melt a bit.

With your supply of truffles and super marbleized wagyu beef, I think slicing the beef thin and doing a shabu shabu would have been a better approach. Then dipping the beef in a truffle sauce. The shabu shabu would melt enough of the fat, and the simplicity would be enough to have the truffle shine.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But that would not have been funny. You must be one of those who don't get the comical stand point.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kelvin said...

Anon, yes I understand the comedic standpoint. It's just I wouldn't dare do that with Truffles, so my slutty pairing would be different. It's probably been a decade since I've had my last McRib.

If Kevin does any request, how about using those truffles as a secret menu item for In n Out?

Sunday, December 14, 2014 1:49:00 PM  

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