In our home, the holiday season starts on October 28, my husband's birthday. We always make a fabulous meal, and drink fabulous wine. This year was no exception. We had horseradish and dijon mustard encrusted filet mignons with potato gratin with bacon, leek and gruyere. Our wine was Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon, Helena Montana Vineyard, Knights Valley, 2003. Sometimes, a meal just turns out perfect. This was one of those times.
One of the key components of the meal is fresh horseradish. If you can get beyond the phallic nature of the root, it is worth trying. When grated, the flavor is more intense, yet less bitter than the bottled kind. It is also not as gloppy, so mixed with the dijon mustard, it adhered perfectly to the steaks. If you are going to make this dish, sear the steaks first, let them cool, then put on the horseradish/mustard mix and finish in the oven to your desired temperature.
I got the gratin recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct./Nov. 2008 issue. Let me make a plug for this glossy. There are a zillion cooking magazines out there; I read a lot of them. Many are good. Many are women's magazines in disguise; many are travel magazines in disguise; some are self-improvements magazines in disguise. Some even have political agendas. If you want a magazine that is all about great recipes and cooking techniques - period - then Fine Cooking is the choice for you. It is my absolute favorite cooking magazine. Check it out at www.finecooking.com.
We were thrilled with our wine pairing. Anakota produces two wines, both Cabernet Sauvignons. They are both produced from high-altitude, single vineyards on Mount Saint Helena in Knights Valley. The Helena Dakota vineyard is at an elevation of 750 feet, and the Helena Montana (which we had), is at 950 feet. This wine was concentrated and full of dark berries - blackberries and black currents. It was incredibly smooth; the tannins so well integrated, that I give it "Drink Now" status.
Sometimes the wine and food just melt in your mouth....