~ Elton Slone, Robert Craig General Mgr & Partner
NOTE: Excerpts from this article appear in our Spring/Summer 2011 Newsletter - click here for the on-line edition with info. on the 2008 Affinity, 2008 Mt. Veeder and more recipes.
Each Spring, when the Robert Craig Affinity and Mt. Veeder Cabernets are shipped to our Cabernet Club, we recommend that our Clubbers allow the wine to "rest" for a week to recover from shipping, then pop open a bottle with (worthy) friends or family members to see how this year’s wine tastes when young and vibrant.
Affinity has always been the Craig version of Brunello di Montalcino; powerful and structured yet supple, sleek, polished and layered. While the new 2008 Affinity is no exception, the high skin-to-juice ratio in this vintage emphasizes the “powerful” and “structured” side. Early sampling requires BEEF for maximum enjoyment!
One of the great steaks in the Bay Area quietly resides at Poggio Trattoria in downtown Sausalito, CA, where chef and partner Peter McNee has worked over the last 5 years to create a gem of a restaurant for locals and traveling foodies. Despite the Italian-centric wine program, they sell a good deal of our Affinity Cabernet there.
While sampling a bottle of the newly arrived 08 Affinity with my girl PB recently, we enjoyed the open-flame, oak-grilled Bistecca for two with a side of sautéed spinach. The large wine glass of supple Affinity Cabernet paired with that amazing Porterhouse led me to ask some questions of Peter. I do this research in service to you, our Cabernet clubbers and fans, no matter how arduous the task!
How did you become attached to Italian cuisine, and what appeals most to you about it?
I spent a year in Italy, cooking in a number of restaurants and living with a host family. This life experience taught me a lot about the culture, people and food of Italy.
The oak does make it special. But, if you don’t have a wood-burning grill you can still make a great steak. Just make sure to cook (burn) your meat over a really high heat. Choose a steak with good marbling, season aggressively and char the steak to whatever temperature you prefer. Let it rest before slicing it and of course finish it with good sea salt and virgin olive oil. It’s that simple.
What is your favorite dish to cook at home?
Spaghetti Carbonara. It’s the simplicity of it; dried pasta, good guanciale (that's Roman-style bacon), egg, pecorino cheese and black pepper. Everything in balance and dinner is done in 15 minutes flat.
(Editor's note: Click here for a discussion of this classic dish and recipe.)
Its ability to pair with meats cooked over a wood fire. For example, we spit roast pig, rabbit, goat and lamb over wood in our rotisserie and grill steaks, fish and chicken too. These meats pick up so much wood flavor because of the smoke and the char. In turn, Napa Valley Cabernets enhance and pair so well with this cooking style.
Describe your philosophy of cooking.
Write a menu after you have picked your ingredients. Go into the kitchen with a clear head, shop at the farmers’ market, and then create your menu. Don’t over-complicate the food. More often than not, less is better. Fewer ingredients will let the food shine.
For more info. about Poggio Trattoria and reservations, click here or call 415-332-7771.
So, my friends, there you have the perfect match for the newly arrived 2008 Affinity - go shopping, fire up the grill, pop the cork and enjoy!