Poetry Poured & Plated
Superb Wine, Steak and Chop Pairings Advised by Master Sommelier Virginia Philip and Expert Dry-Aged Butcher Walter Apfelbaum
By Clifton Thuma and Robin Jay
Wine is bottled poetry,” said legendary poet Robert Louis Stevenson. If he were here today, he’d likely agree that the only thing more epicuringly eloquent than fine wine is fine wine paired with a fine dry-aged steak or chop. And nothing could be finer than wine, steak and chop pairings chosen by Master Sommelier Virginia Philip and Expert Dry-Aged Butcher Walter Apfelbaum at NYY Steak at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
Meet Mr. Apfelbaum
When you enter the lobby of NYY Steak, you see on display the masterful butcher shop where you might be greeted by Walter himself. He sees it as his mission to tell guests about the quality and flavor of the steaks he delivers onto their plates. South Florida Opulence spoke with Walter recently and heard a man not only very well-heeled in his craft, but also wildly passionate about it. He is the son of a butcher who learned the craft in the family’s butcher shop, so wielding a knife to carve the finest cuts of meat has been a lifelong experience. As a young man, he took a job at one of Hilton’s largest operations followed by a stint in Europe, learning the ‘old-fashioned way.’ And he schooled at New York’s acclaimed Culinary Institute of America. All this has made him an accomplished restaurateur and expert butcher. His talent makes him want his customers to know why his meats are so superior. “I want you to love the meats and that means you need to know about them.”
Buying from a small Chicago supplier, Apfelbaum oversees the dry-aging of selected cuts. This process reduces the meat’s moisture and softens the muscle fibers, concentrating and enhancing the flavor. “There’s nothing more succulent,” he said.
Master Sommelier Virginia Philip
Virginia Philip doesn’t have a shop at the restaurant—she has a staff. All the waiters have been trained by her to know the wine list she has thoughtfully created. As a Master Sommelier—the 11th woman in the world to achieve that distinction and one of only 26 today—she has matched the beautiful cuts on the menu with wines of commensurate quality. She chooses wines with tannins and complexity that pair best with the premium aged meats. For an unforgettable culinary experience, visit NYY Steak and select one of these duo-master pairings:
Virginia: Pair the Cowboy Ribeye with Faust by Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2010. The beautiful ruby color reveals bright black cherry, cola and warm spice aromas mingled with white chocolate, delicate floral layers and a crème brulee vanilla note from sweet oak.
Walter: Our Boneless New York Strip steaks are much leaner than the ribeye, but very dense and delicate at the same time, with hints of nuts and butter. It’s just a very smooth and soft steak. Our bone-in NY Strip is a bit richer in the nut and butter flavor due to it still being on the bone. The bone gives the steak an extra nudge of flavor that is just beautiful.
Virginia: Pair the New York Strip with Casalvento Janus, Tuscany, Italy, 2008. The wine displays hints of violet, red currant and eucalyptus. It’s full-body with silky and round tannins.
Walter: The Porterhouse has the same meat as the bone-in NY Strip, but with an added bonus of a filet on the other side. This, in my own opinion, is the best way to eat the filet because it’s prime, dry-aged, on-the-bone and still has the chain and fat on it – so it is the true way to taste the beautiful nuttiness and rich aged flavor of filet.
Virginia: Pair the Porterhouse with D’Arenberg “Dead Arm” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2007. “Dead Arm” refers to a vine fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often vines affected are severely pruned or replanted. One, or half an ‘arm,’ of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity for this wine.
Walter: Our Lamb Chop is American lamb, so it is big and beautiful with hints of corn and acorn from the animal’s feed. After I age it, this cut mellows out and has an almost sweet beef taste and is buttery smooth. (Note that being a domestic animal, it will NOT be gamey or earthy like Australian and New
Virginia: Pair the Lamb Chop with Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2nd Growth Grand Cru Classe, St. Julien, Bordeaux, 1996. It owes its name to the ‘beautiful large pebbles and stones’ that characterize its terrain, which offers exceptional wine-making conditions that translate into the finesse of this wine.
Walter: Our Veal Chop is Grade A milk-fed veal. It’s the best veal because the animal was fed with mother’s milk that was sweetened with rich corn and grains. The meat has the soft flavor and textures of all those beautiful things.
Virginia: Pair the Veal Chop with Montecillo Gran Reserva Rioja, Spain, 2006. This rioja has aromas of ripe fruit and flowers with hints of leather, incense, tea leaves and smoke.
Walter: Our Kurobuta Pork Chop is not your grandma’s pork. This animal is a corn-and-acorn-mash-fed animal that is so sweet and soft that you want to eat it closer to medium so you can taste the beautiful mash.
Virginia: Pair the Pork Chop with Patz & Hall Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2012. It displays lush red fruit, with spice and sassafras notes and aromas of cherry, raspberry and plum mingled with cedar, tobacco, smoked meat, fine herbs and forest floor.
These are just a sampling of pairings from Walter and Virginia at NYY Steak, located at 5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek. To schedule a reservation, call 954-935-6699.