Treat Yourself for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming and no matter what your situation – dating, married, single – it’s a day for treats, and I’ve got a good one for you: L’Ecole 41 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Paired with a delicious steak and baked potato, you can create a steakhouse experience at your own house, setting the stage for love …. or just a lovely meal – up to you!

Are you familiar with L’Ecole 41? After they provided Merlot samples during #MerlotMe month in October (God, how I love that month), they reached out to some of us bloggers and suggested an ongoing relationship. So, if I could date a winery, I’m kind of dating L’Ecole 41!

The winery is in Walla, Walla, Washington and and here’s what you need to know: Washington wines are one of the best values you can find these days. Quality is high, prices are reasonable.

This Cabernet is a 2017 – which was an awesome year for wine in Walla Walla. Hot summer + cool early fall + October sunshine resulted in a near-perfect vintage. You’re gonna get some dried figs and dates from it, some mocha and a whisper of baking spices. It’s got a silky texture with fine, well-muscled tannins. Tastes like a $40 wine – but retails for about $29! Shazam!

Let’s talk about this pairing, so you can plan your dinner. I seared a filet mignon to a perfect medium-rare, added a fluffy baked potato with the classic butter/sour cream / chives situation and some sautĂ©ed spinach, (because you know – healthy!) It was as good as you’d pay for in a swish steak house!

The steak: Bring your steak(s) to room-temperature and liberally salt-and-pepper them. Get a cast-iron skillet good and hot. Melt a tablespoon of butter, and put your steak in. Let it develop a good crust, before you try to flip it. My filet was kind of thick, so I used tongs to turn it onto its sides to get a good sear. Once you’ve seared it on all sides (takes about 8 minutes total), pop that pan into the oven, where your potato is baking, for a few minutes. Use a meat thermometer and when it registers 120 degrees, take it out (it’ll keep cooking a bit). This gave me a perfect medium rare – deeelish!

The potato: This is super simple: poke a russet potato with a knife in a few places, and put it in a pre-heated 425-degree oven for an hour. After an hour, Squeeze it to be sure it “gives” – and it’s done! Cut open and add butter, salt and sour cream – top with chives or scallions.

The spinach: Heat a skillet (I know, a lot of skillet action going on here) with olive oil (how much? A couple tablespoons) and one smashed garlic clove. When the garlic sizzles, take it out and chuck it. Now you have garlicky olive oil. Add one bag of spinach – looks like a lot, but cooks down to two portions. Use tongs to just move it about a little, and then put the lid on. The spinach will wilt down in about three minutes. Salt it to taste and serve!

So there you have it: a short, sweet Valentine of a wine and food pairing. L’Ecole 41 Columbia Valley Cabernet is one of L’Ecole 41’s most widely available wines, and you should b able to find it at large wine retailers and it’s also on wine.com. Cheers, friends!

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