We spent half our first day in Door County preparing Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, a deeply flavored beef stew we adore but rarely have time to make. The simple ingredients – beef, pearl onions, carrots, bacon, wine – belie the rich satisfaction this recipe provides.
To accompany the boeuf, I made Hefeknöpfle, a yeasted dumpling I found in a German cookbook. You essentially make a bread dough, but instead of baking it, you quarter the dough and boil it. Using a wire, you cut the resulting brain-like dumplings into thick slices, and voilà! Light but sturdy Hefeknöpfle.
A side dish of barely bitter black kale sautéed in olive oil with garlic and peperoncino flakes contrasted the boeuf and brain dumplings perfectly.
I brought along a couple of unusual wines to sample with the boeuf, notably Slovenian and Istrian Terans, but I must now admit a moment of weakness. I betrayed my “unusual and obscure” principles for our first boeuf dinner, selecting a 2007 Los Alisos Syrah from Santa Barbara County. A Central Coast Syrah surely cannot qualify as unusual, but even I could not resist Whole Foods’ sale on this wine: $13 instead of the usual $23. It called out to be drunk with the boeuf. The Terans could wait.
Dark purple with red edges, the Syrah smelled of old, wine-soaked oak. Up-front flavors of wood, ripe plums and blueberries expanded at the rear palate into a bold spiciness. The wine stood up beautifully against the boeuf, helping enhance the sweet-salty umami flavors of the stew and clearing our palates for the next bite.
A wine like this is a bargain for $13, unusual or not. Whole Foods has a “Whole Paycheck” reputation, but I frequently find appealing wines for significant discounts. If you shop at Whole Foods regularly, it’s worth making a habit of browsing the wine section — there’s almost always a great sale on something.
2007 Los Alisos Syrah: Big, fruity and spicy. A great deal when it’s on sale for $13. Put it in the fridge 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Find It: I purchased the bottle at Whole Foods in Chicago on Waveland and Halsted (ph: 773-472-0400). As of this writing (May 4), the wine is still on sale for $13, discounted from $23. You can also call the winery directly at 866-772-0268; they currently offer the Syrah for $16 a bottle.