Mary's birthday was May 12. Our life together has so many significant moments marked by food and wine. Most of them involve some beautiful meat or seafood, pasta, and incredible wine. Mary's path has led her to a vegan diet, something I think we both knew was coming. As a cook, this is definitely tough for me, as I want to lather things in butter, sear/roast/braise proteins, and do beautiful and elaborate platings around significant main courses. Cooking "fancy" vegan dishes has never been a specialty! A lovely risotto, perhaps a beautiful ratatouille, a delicious ribolitta, simple pastas, or some kind of vegetable curry has really been the highlight of my vegan toolbox. So, I bought a new book (Great Chefs Cook Vegan) and started reading recipes and looking at photos to see what might taste great to both of us, and what would be 'fun' to tackle for an eventful vegan meal. 

The Wine
2010 Marchese Antinori, Tignanello

The Meal
Course 1:  Sunchoke soup with pickled radishes
Course 2:  Grilled portobello mushrooms with avocados and a jalapeño oil
Course 3:  Cauliflower Steaks on quinoa


The Sunchoke Soup was the winner. Really delicious. Ever worked with sunchokes before???? What a pain in the butt! Beautifully nutty and slightly sweet. The pickled radish pops a little bit of extra brightness into the dish. It was great (thank you Thomas Keller)!



The mushrooms turned out to be a good dish, but a bit on the boring side. The jalapeño oil (using roasted jalapeños) was really nice, and the avocado provided some nice flavors, but overall it was a bit dull. Would have been great alongside some other dish, but not so much as a stand-alone plate. I also wish I had found King Oyster Mushrooms instead of portobellos. time.


The cauliflower steaks were awesome - largely because of the delicious quinoa bed! Leeks, garlic, olive oil, and herbs, sautéed and then blended into the quinoa as it cooked in a beautiful vegetable stock. Diced zucchini worked in and a cauliflower steak seasoned, and placed on top, drizzled in good olive oil – yum. A vegan dish for a carnivore! 



THE WINE:  2010 Marchese Antinori, Tignanello

Tignanello holds a very special place in our hearts. On our first trip to Italy in 2006, we stayed at the Antinori estate, and our porch overlooked the Tignanello vineyard. This is our favorite wine in the Antinori collection. A supertuscan blending about 80% sangiovese with 20% cabernet (Solaia is the reverse), it manages to retain all of its "Italian-ness" while adding the richness and power of the cabernet. It is spicy, elegant, and able to take us on a voyage back to Tuscany every time. We have not had a bottle of Tignanello in several years, and the 2010 vintage is a tremendous one. But.... the wine is not ready yet. It is singing with nice fruit and softness, but the roundness and earthy qualities of the landscape aren't there yet. This wine will be great in just a few more years.

The Wine List (ratings on 10 point scale; "+" indicates will improve over time)



2010 Marchese Antinori, Tignanello