This guest-post comes to us from Mira Advani Honeycutt, author of California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide: From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles. She frequently reports here on her various wine travels.
“I have a whole moose in my freezer,” said Petra Martin. That’s what prompted me to say, “Why don’t we do a moose curry?” Petra agreed.
I was visiting Napa Valley’s Martin Estate winery owned by Petra and Greg Martin.
“We only eat what we hunt,” Petra said proudly. (This rule applies only at home, not when they eat out). The moose was hunted by Greg in Alaska.
I tell Petra I’ve never seen a moose or eaten the meat, let alone cook it! Furthermore, I haven’t cooked red meat in years. But I like challenges, so I was up for this experiment.
Greg owns a successful arms and armor antique business in San Francisco which explains the couple’s hunting passion. Petra manages their 12-acre estate in Rutherford. With the expertise of winemaker Frederic Delivert, they produce 1200 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon annually. The historic 1887 Harris mansion was surrounded by wild greens when the Martins purchased it. In 1997, they planted 16,000 vines on eight acres on the estate.
As I entered the country style kitchen outfitted with historic objects, Petra handed me two thawed out bags of the moose meat cut in stew pieces . The meat was dark, almost the color of liver. After sautéing onions, ginger and garlic (the Indian trifecta), I added the meat, tomatoes, cilantro and spices (that I picked up from my friend Neela’s restaurant in Napa). While cooking, I noticed that the meat was lean and packed with moisture (no need for water or stock). Lastly I added some plain Greek yogurt and let the meat simmer slowly.
I cooked two more dishes (just in case the moose experiment failed) – gobi aloo (cauliflower and potatoes) and brown lentils tempered with fresh curry leaves and mustard seeds. To round off the Indian meal, I made turmeric rice and cucumber raita. The entire meal had a good blend of spices but I kept the chili heat low, so we could enjoy the estate’s red wines. For dessert, Greta, (Martins’ daughter) whipped up a delectable mixed berry compote with fresh cream.
To my surprise the moose meat took to Indian spices like a bear to honey. The curry turned out delicious.
In the historic candle lit dining room, we started off with a 1987 Pommery Champagne and savored the 2008 Blakeaslea Chardonnay with the vegetarian dishes. And the two Martin Estate wines – the 2007 Reserve and the 2008 Bacchanal Cabernet Sauvignon were a match made in heaven with the moose curry.