Montalcino / Vigna del Fiore

Steak, a universal language that unites Tuscans, New Yorkers, and Texans


In anticipation of Benvenuto Brunello in New York and Houston next week (click here for details), I’ve been thinking about steak.

After all, New York City — where I lived for 10 years — is one of the most famous “steak” cities in the world: Peter Luger, Sparks, Keens, The Palm, Old Homestead… those are just some of the “historic” steakhouses in the Big Apple. And there are plenty more, including more recent entries (my favorites are Keen’s and Two Toms, both historic venues, the latter located in the old casket district near downtown Brooklyn, a destination for the culinarily adventurous).

New York even has a steak named after it: The “New York Strip” (although I would argue, and I believe that many among my culinarily minded friends would agree, the true New York cut is the veal chop).

Houston — where I live now — is another one of the great steak cities of the world. Houston was and is a major commercial hub and a major port for the beef industry, surrounded by historic ranching country. And when the first oil boom came along in the 1970s, it was only natural that scores of steakhouses would appear here.

Oddly, Houston doesn’t have a steak named after it. But it does have a favorite cut: The rib-eye.

Like Texas, Tuscany has always been “ranching country” and it’s no coincidence that Tuscans consume more beef than any other region in Italy (although Lombardy also vies for that distinction). Tuscany is so famous for steak that it even has a steak named after its most famous city, Florence: The fiorentina, which is akin to the American porterhouse.

It’s great to see Benvenuto Brunello return to Texas (for the second time). But it makes perfect sense: Even though Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is still arguably the most popular steakhouse wine in Texas, Brunello is also one of the biggest selling wines in high-end dining here. I can tell you that from personal experience. But the fact that the Brunello consortium has chosen to return here also bears my anecdotal data out.

I’m really looking forward to my friend and colleague, Raffaella Federzoni, Barbi export manager, to get here for the tasting. I have a feeling there’s a great steak in my future.

Jeremy Parzen

Click here for tasting and event registration details.

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