Where's the Beef?
At Wente Vineyards, actually: a sneak peek at the Livermore winery's new estate beef program.
Since the addition of chef Matt Greco to The Restaurant at Wente last October, Wente has been moo-ving (that's a clue...) into something altogether new, while at the same time going back to their ranching roots. Grass-fed "Estate Beef."
From charcuterie (cured soppressata, smoked sausage, and mortadella-like bierwurst) to "bone marrow butter" croutons to 28-day dry-aged short loin to apple pie with leaf lard crust (you heard it here first... leaf lard is the fat of the calf that grows around the kidneys... who knew!), Wente's new beef menu glistens with originality and flavor if just a wee bit of fat. But with beef this good, it's worth every bite. This is organically-raised Black Angus cattle, grass fed on local hillsides and humanely slaughtered in nearby Stockton. According to partriarch Eric Wente, the rancher-visionary behind the Estate Beef program, the Wente cows are cared for as only a winemaker could.
"After ranging freely and grazing on clover and vetch, in the last 90 days the cows are grain "finished" to balance their natural flavors. During this time each cow receives the equivalent of two glasses of red wine per day in their feed, producing a finer marbling and a more robust flavor profile."
The results of this level of TLC show up in a tender, butter-soft tooth and nutty aromatic flavor. Or was that due to the fine preparations by Chef Greco?
To launch their beautiful, if boutique, beef program (with only a dozen or so head in the program, it's available in the restaurant only), Wente is hosting Estate Beef Week from January 28-February 3.
So, the next time you're dining at Wente, be sure to try a few of the latest additions on the sample menu below.
I recently indulged in some of Chef Greco's offerings, dining with a formerly vegetarian friend who has recently lapsed into part-time carnivorism only when organic beef is involved. We were both stunned. The fine texture and clean flavors were enough to make me never want to eat commercial beef again. Through careful preparations and gorgeous platings of food also featuring the finest seasonal vegetables, Chef Greco elevates Wente's winsome beef to nothing less than an art form.
Gazing up at the hills above the winery on Arroyo Road in Livermore, you might catch sight of a few of Wente's Black Angus cattle. They'll probably be grazing passively on some of the most beautiful hillsides in the Bay Area. And likely they'll be dreaming about their little nitecap, a couple of glasses of Wente red.