By Nina Subhas
In this series, Nina Subhas takes us through some of her favorite snacks and pairings from Gjusta Grocer.
I have been doing a lot of last minute gifting lately. Or rather forgetting that I meant to get a gift for a friend before the absolute last minute, and wandering the store in a panic trying to find the perfect things. The last gift I snagged was for a chef friend, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it to the point where I had to pull the products again and take them home for myself.
The first thing I pulled was a ribeye from Autonomy Farms. Ribeyes are always something special, they are my favorite steaks, maybe not for every day but for a special occasion. They have just the right amount of fat, beautiful flavor and are perfectly tender grilled to medium rare. Autonomy Farms prefers to raise grass-fed cattle, but it has been so dry there is just no grass up in Bakersfield to feed the cattle. This suits me perfectly because I love grain-finished beef — it's sweeter, richer, and more tender than grass-fed. It also is a little less gamey, and a little sweeter. Whenever I have a food craving, it is never just about eating the food, but also about revisiting a memory. Having grown up eating American grain-fed beef, treating myself to one of these steaks I am back at every summer barbecue, surrounded by family and friends, the food is just better.
What better companion to steak than Barolo. We have 2 Barolos from Camerano that are imported exclusively for the Gjelina Group. Camerano is a fifth generation winery, the second oldest in Barolo. They are both lovely, but the Terlo is my favorite. A super classic Barolo, with aromas of rose and tar, give way to dark berries, earth and spice. The wine wants steak, the steak wants wine.
Since the gift was already very indulgent, I figured I might as well go all the way and finish with a bar of chocolate. We have a lot of incredible chocolate bars in the store, and on any given day my favorite changes. On this particular day I pulled the ancient spring salt bar from Cuna de Piedra. Cuna de Piedra makes impeccable chocolate bars, grown, processed, and made in Mexico. Mexico has such a rich history with cacao, but hasn’t had the biggest presence in the bean to bar space when compared to American and European brands. It's really exciting to be able to support chocolate makers who are working with small local farms in the same way we do in our restaurants. It has those really beautiful tropical fruit notes I come to expect from single origin bars, and the addition of the salt just puts it over the edge for me. The salt comes from the Zapotitlan Salinas salt mines in Puebla, Mexico. The community there has been harvesting salt from the ancient mines for over 2,000 years. As with many ancient traditions, many of the salt producers in the area are elderly, the younger people in the community have been seeking better economic opportunities outside of the salt industry, so the future is unclear.
What better gift than some of my favorite things — steaks, wine and chocolate.