Steak and Cigar – The Perfect Pairing

Steak and Cigars

What’s not to love about a steakhouse and cigar lounge – where you can enjoy a perfectly cooked rare steak and a fine cigar. Over the past few years, cigar lounges have become more and more sought after. But just what is a cigar lounge and why is it even more enjoyable when paired with steak and fine dining?

The popularity of cigar lounges

Cigar lounges are a great way for anyone who loves cigars to enjoy them in the company of others who appreciate the same relaxing and satisfying experience. There are a few different kinds of cigar lounges.

Restaurants with a cigar lounge

These types of lounges are perfect – you can enjoy the experience of sampling different types of cigars while having a great meal. You can sit back and savor two of the things you love – food and cigars.

Lounges in cigar shops

You’ll find a few of these types of lounges in North America – a lounge within a cigar shop. Expand on your knowledge of cigars – then purchase your favorite and enjoy in the lounge.

Public cigar lounges

The main purpose of these cigar lounges is to socialise with others who love a fine cigar as much as you do. These lounges are great when you want to polish your knowledge about cigars with other cigar smokers.

Lounges for members only

Only registered members and their guests allowed for these cigar lounges. Don’t let that deter you…become a member.

Choosing the right cigar

If you’re a cigar aficionado, you know that a fine cigar is a satisfying way to end a great meal. But not just any cigar will do. Just like different wines are paired with food, so are cigars.

When you’re deciding on what cigar to pair with your meal try to keep one thing in mind – the cigar should complement the food so the flavors work together in perfect harmony.

Follow some of the same guidelines for cigars and food as you do when choosing the perfect wine or whisky with your meal. For wine, red wine brings out the flavors of heavier foods. And white wine enhances the flavors of lighter dishes. The same guidelines can be applied to cigars and food. Cigars have just as many complex tastes and subtle tones as any glass of wine.

Pairing food and cigars

Coronas pair well with appetizers of cheeses and olives. Coronas have a light smoke and won’t over-power your meal. This cigar also goes well with a simple fish dish, a nice mellowness to a fresh meal.

If you’re dining on steak and potatoes look for a cigar that’s more full-bodied, such as an Oscuro or Maduro. Both have a deep and rich flavor, making them robust enough to be enjoyed with a perfectly grilled steak.

The satisfaction of a good cigar before or after a steak

Very few things in life beat a good cigar before or after eating a delicious rib eye steak and a baked potato. There’s something satisfying and fulfilling about sitting back after a great meal and lighting up.

Some people enjoy a cigar before a meal as it sensitizes their taste buds and make the meal taste that much better. After ordering your meal, sit back with your glass of wine or glass of whiskey and cleanse your palate in preparation for a perfectly cooked filet mignon.

Others prefer to enjoy a cigar after they’ve eaten, rounding out the flavors of a great meal.

There are no hard and fast rules – before or after – pairing your cigar with a steak is what life is all about.

Smoking a finely rolled cigar continues to grow in popularity. Being able to enjoy the taste and aroma in the comfort and style of a steakhouse is one of the great pleasures in life!

It’s Healthy! So…Steak Anytime of the Day

Montreal Steak

There’s no doubt about it, lingering at the dinner table enjoying a delicious meal of steak is a great way to end your busy day. But this healthy protein option isn’t just for dinner – it’s for breakfast and lunch as well.

Steak for breakfast

The concept of having steak for breakfast isn’t a new one – steak has been on the breakfast menu for years. What is new is actually enjoying your breakfast with a great cut and cook of steak instead of just a basic cut of meat that’s been thrown in the pan and overcooked until it’s too tough to eat.

What’s the best cut for breakfast steak?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer – any cut of steak will taste good in the morning. There are however some reasons for choosing one over another. Tender steaks, such as a ribeye, are best if you’re grilling them alone and then just serving alongside eggs and potatoes.

If you’re having steak cooked into hash or putting it inside a burrito with other ingredients, a flat iron steak is ideal.

Why steak is a healthy breakfast choice

Steak is a healthy choice for breakfast – it’s full of healthy protein, it can fill you up for the next few hours until lunch, and it’s fast and easy to make. Add eggs and grilled tomatoes to the dish and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast that you can quickly get used to eating every morning.

Other reasons why steak is great breakfast choice: there are a lot of nutrients and vitamins in red meat. When you eat red meat in moderation, it provides your body with an excellent source of protein. Some of the main nutrients in steak include iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamins B12 and B6, and zinc.

When it comes to a healthy steak breakfast, don’t overcook your meat. A steak that is grilled to medium or medium rare has more Vitamins B6 and A than a steak that’s too well done.

Little known breakfast trivia

The next time you’re doubting having a steak breakfast just remember that it’s the choice of astronauts. Eating steak for breakfast before heading off to space became a custom on May 5th, 1961. Before his flight on the Freedom 7, Al Shepard ate a breakfast of eggs, tea, orange juice….and a filet mignon steak. Since that first NASA steak breakfast, eating steak before being launched into space has been become a tradition among astronauts.

Steak for lunch

Most people shy away from eating at steak at lunch – they think it’s too heavy a protein to enjoy in the middle of the day and that they’ll be sleepy after eating a steak meal. Not true at all. If you dine on a steak with light side dishes at lunch, you’ll be energized and ready for the afternoon. And if your steak is a little on the big side, you have all afternoon to wear off those extra calories.

Steak and your heart

Many people avoid eating steak – they’ve been told that red meat is bad for the heart and that you should avoid it altogether. This is far from the truth. Steak contains fat, but it’s a healthy, saturated fat that’s used by your body for multiple functions. It may help to improve your cholesterol levels, which can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Best cuts of steak for health

Some cuts of meat are leaner than others. Top sirloin has more protein that other lean cuts. Although it has up to 10 grams of fat for each serving, 6 of those grams are unsaturated fat…and good for you. A top round is lean and tender, with lots of flavor. The same for steaks from the bottom round roast – steak from this cut of beef is lean but can be tough so it’s usually marinated for a few hours before grilling.

The next time you’re in the mood for steak, don’t limit yourself to dinner…it’s a healthy and lean choice of protein that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Irresistible Blackened Steak

Steakhouse in Montreal

You’ve seen it on the menu a thousand times – a blackened steak. Yet for some reason you always pass by this menu item, choosing instead the filet mignon wrapped in bacon or the ribeye that’s been grilled to perfection. While there are many choices at the best steakhouse in Montreal, it’s time to give the blackened steak the chance is deserves – next time you see it on the menu be sure to give it a try.

What is a blackened steak?

Not all steakhouse menus have a blackened steak. Traditionally, the method of blackening a steak has been used more in the south than in the north. In the south, many dishes are influenced by the Cajun cuisine. The blackened steak falls into this category.

Blackening is a cooking technique that is used on more than just steak. In many southern restaurants, chefs use the process for chicken, fish, game, and even for some vegetarian dishes such as blackened and grilled vegetables. Blackening on steak is an exceptional way to seal in the juiciness of the steak and make your mouth water.

There’s really only one way to get blackened steak, and that’s to use a cast iron skillet. The technique is all about searing the steak in the pan over very high heat. You want an almost-burnt crust to develop on the steak while keeping the inside tender and at just the right temperature.

What cuts of steak are best?

At first, blackened steak might not sound very appealing, but if it’s on the menu you can be assured the chef has gotten it right. Chefs will use some of the most popular cuts of meat when using the blackening technique, such as a ribeye or a New York strip. The reason these cuts are used is because they don’t have a lot of extra fat and they can be cooked evenly all over. Once they’ve been blackened and have a crust, they’re still tender and juicy inside.

It’s all about the seasoning

Blackened steak isn’t just about the seared crust on the meat, it’s also about the seasoning. It’s this spice blend that’s going to make the steak smell enticing and taste exciting. The seasoning needs to be intense and deep…and most often these seasonings have a Cajun influence to them.

Many chefs adjust the spices according to their own preference, using a combination of different spices, taking them from a basic blackening spice to Creole all the way to authentic Cajun.

The difference in spicy seasonings

A really good blackening spice provides just enough heat, a deepness of flavor, and some undertones of combined spices. All blends of blackening spices are made with some basic ingredients that can include pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic. Using just these base ingredients makes a delicious spice mix for blackening any steak.

There are a few other ingredients that chefs add to spice things up even more. An authentic Cajun seasoning is usually the spiciest, getting a lot of heat with the addition of cayenne pepper. Creole seasonings often have a few herbs thrown into the mix, such as basil and oregano.

Unique seasoning blends

You don’t need to stick with the Cajun influenced blackened spice blend. If you’re making your own blackened steak at home, dare to be a little adventurous. Use this unique blend that adds a different flavor to the steak, no matter what cut you decide to use: black pepper, black salt, smoked paprika, black garlic powder, and Porcini mushroom powder. You may have to visit a specialty spice shop to find some of these spices…but the trip will be well worth it.

What to eat with blackened steak

You don’t want the side dishes to overwhelm and take away from the great taste of your blackened steak. Stick with subtle side dishes that are going to enhance the flavor. Grilled onions, zucchini, and green beans are a nice choice.

Another great side dish option is a simple green salad and grilled tomatoes. Be sure to grill the tomatoes in the same skillet you blackened the steak in.

The next time blackened steak is a menu option, be sure to order it!

The Best Pairing for Cigars, Food, and Drink

Cigar Lounge Montreal

There’s not much better than enjoying a great cigar before, during, or after a meal. Is there an art to pairing your cigar with the right food or drink? You can never go wrong with any cigar. But there are some foods and alcoholic drinks that go better with some cigars than with others.

Cigars and seafood

Seafood, no matter how full of flavor it is, tends to be quite light in taste. The cigar you smoke during or after a meal of salmon, lobster, or mussels should also be on the light side. If you choose a cigar that’s full of flavor and body, you’re quickly going to cover up the taste of the seafood. Pick a cigar that has at most a medium body so that the aroma of the cigar stands out and blends with your meal.

Cigars that complement pasta

Many pasta dishes have a red tomato based sauce, as well as meats that are seasoned with herbs such as basil and oregano. The sauces are often on the sweeter side because of these herbs and spices. A full-bodied cigar can quickly overpower the taste and flavor of pasta dishes, so the taste of the sauce is lost. Choose a smoke that’s medium and has a bit of sweetness so that it works with your meal rather than against it.

Barbecued foods and cigars

Foods that are barbecued have often been grilled or baked with a rub or a barbecue sauce that’s spicy, sweet, and tangy. Your cigar needs to be able to stand up to these bold flavors. Choose full-bodied cigars, such as Cubans and Hondurans. The complexity of these cigars can easily match the flavor of smoky, barbecued foods.

Steak and cigar

A delicious steak that’s been grilled to perfection needs a cigar that’s going to balance out that meaty flavor. And if your steak has been grilled with onions and mushrooms, you’ll need a rich and bold cigar, such as a Maduro, which is crisp and strong.

Beyond whiskey and cigars

It’s not just food that needs to be correctly paired with your cigar – alcohol always needs to carefully paired with your cigar as well, so that you get the best of both tastes. Cocktails are a good choice as an after drink, especially if you’re smoking a full-bodied cigar. Cocktails made with vodka or gin can be light and cool when they’re blended with refreshing ingredients such as basil, lemon, and fresh ginger – Mojitos, Cuba Libre, and gin with a splash of lime – these are light drinks that cleanse the palate. When drinking these cocktails, choose a light cigar to that’s made with a mixture of tobacco that’s been grown in Mexico and/or Ecuador.

Craft beers

Forget the wine, spirits, or cocktails and reach for that craft beer. The popularity for craft beers is at an all time high in North America. Even the smallest towns are brewing their own beer. Cigars can be perfectly paired with beer. You just need to match the body of the beer to the cigar. An ale or malted beer need a full-bodied cigar that match its acidity. And a lighter beer, such a wheat beer, pair best with medium-bodied cigars.

Dessert and cigars?

Just because you enjoy a good cigar at the end of a meal doesn’t mean you have to give up dessert. It’s definitely not a “one or the other” situation. You can have your dessert and smoke your cigar too. No matter what type of dessert you have, there’s a good cigar to go with it. Lighter tasting cigars go well with light desserts that are fruit based – this way the flavor and taste of one won’t overpower the other. Chocolate desserts are usually more rich and flavorful. Choose a bolder cigar with these desserts, such as one with a Dominican blend.

You be the final judge

Follow the guidelines here to pair your food or drink to the right cigar. Just remember that these rules aren’t written in stone. You’re the final judge when it comes to deciding what works and what doesn’t. Have fun finding your own perfect cigar pairing.

Your Guide to Wagyu Beef

Wagyu beef

You find a Wagyu steak on the menu…with a hefty price tag beside it. And you wonder – what’s all the hype about a Wagyu steak!? Let’s find out.

What is Wagyu beef?

Wagyu when translated in Japanese means “Japanese cow”. So, there’s your first clue to what Wagyu is. Beef that originates in Japan. In the 1880s, cattle from Europe were introduced to Japan, where they were crossbred with Japanese cattle. Out of this crossbreeding, there are four types of Wagyu cattle: Black, Brown, Shorthorn, and Polled.

Japanese Black – Wagyu Black is deliciously tender and almost melts in your mouth. The reason for this is the wonderful marbling of fat throughout the meat.

Japanese Brown – Also known as Akaushi beef, if you’re looking for a milder taste with less fat throughout your steak, Wagyu Brown delivers.

Japanese Shorthorn – Wagyu Shorthorn is lean and a little on the savory side.

Japanese Polled – A Wagyu Polled steak is gamier than other Wagyu, with a meaty rich flavor.

Most strains of Wagyu come from the Japanese Black, with it’s superior marbling and smooth taste.

Extraordinary Wagyu Marbling

The marbling found in Wagyu beef is extraordinarily superior to other meat. If you need a reminder, marbling is all about those little lines of fat throughout the meat. Not just on the outside of the meat, but inside within the muscle as well.

The marbled fat melts at a lower temperature than other beef. This means your steak has a buttery and rich flavor that almost melts on your tongue. Another bonus is that Wagyu meat is considered to be more healthy than other beef – the fat in the meat is high in Omega fatty acids and unsaturated fat.

So, it’s this marbling of fat that makes a Wagyu steak so superior and pricy.

Wagyu and Kobe beef aren’t the same

There’s a misconception that Wagyu and Kobe are the same thing. Kobe beef is considered to be the best of the best. It’s the most expensive meat you can buy – and probably the tastiest you’ll ever eat. Kobe is everything that Wagyu beef is, and then some.

There are different strains of the Wagyu Japanese Black cattle, such as the Tajima-Gyu. These varieties are the most popular and sought after, and from here we get Kobe beef.

Kobe needs to meet several criteria before it’s sold as authentic Kobe beef. Not only does it need to come from the Tajima-Gyu lineage, it needs to have a superior rating. The marbling rating needs to be 6 or higher on a scale of 12. And the meat quality must be 4 or higher on a scale of 5. That’s a lot to live up to in the world of beef.

And it all adds up to an expensive steak, with a price per pound of over $200.00.

Enjoy your Wagyu!

The first tip when eating a Wagyu steak is to take your time, savoring each delicious bite. This is a dining experience you don’t want to rush through!

Choose wisely when pairing Wagyu with other foods. You want the Wagyu to be the main highlight of your meal. Lightly sautéed root vegetables are a good choice. As is a crisp green salad that’s lightly dressed with just olive oil. Heavier side dishes, such as your classic serving of fries, can weigh down the Wagyu and deter from its buttery flavor.

When it comes to your alcoholic choice a deep red wine, such a Merlot, will pair nicely with the beef. Sake and beer are other options, complementing the Wagyu and making this a meal you’re not likely to forget anytime soon!

Tasty Trend of Dry Aging Beef

Dry Aged Beef

Gastronomes and chefs all around the world are raving about dry aged beef. Rib n Reef steakhouse is known in Montreal for it’s quality dry aged beef and more and more steakhouses are adding dry aged steak to their menu…and diners are ordering despite the price of a plate. But why all the interest in a piece of meat that’s been hung up and left to dry? The answer is a simple one. Dry aging beef naturally dries out the meat, concentrating and enhancing its beef flavor.

The more popular the trend for aged beef becomes, the more available and affordable it is for you to enjoy – grilling steak yourself at home or dining out at your favorite steakhouse.

Foodies are more educated then ever before about what tastes good. They want to know all about the latest and greatest ingredients and products in the culinary world. And these days it’s all about seeing aged steak on the menu. But is that aged steak worth the price you’re going to be paying for it?

Why eat dry age beef?

When you really think about it, eating meat that’s been aged doesn’t sound very appealing. When you open a pack of meat at home and leave it in the fridge for even a day, the smell isn’t at all appetizing. Dry aged beef is nothing at all like that. The meat goes through a meticulous process of aging that improves both the taste and texture of the beef. When dried correctly, dry aged steaks have an amazing, concentrated flavor that can’t be duplicated.

From meat to dry aged steak

There’s a bit of a scientific formula to aging meat. It’s not as simple as just hanging beef to dry in a dark room. There’s a specific process that needs to happen. Larger cuts of meat are put into humidity and temperature-controlled coolers before being cut into steaks and other cuts of meat. The reason for this is that the aging process causes a loss of volume in the meat when the outer layers are cut away. These outer layers have a growth of mold on the surface, making this portion of the meat inedible. But inside, underneath that outer layer, that’s where all the magic happens – a flavorful and tender steak just waiting to be grilled to perfection.

Ideal aging time

Meat is dry aged for anywhere from 28 to 120 days, with 30 to 40 days being the ideal aging time for steak. At this point there’s an agreement among chefs and foodies that the beef has reached its optimum drying time, with the perfect combination of concentrated flavors.

The unforgettable taste of dry aged steak?

Before you order that pricey dry aged steak, you’ll want to know what you’re getting. Everyone is raving about this new trend…but are you going to enjoy the dry aged steak better than the Filet Mignon you usually order?

They say the taste is unforgettable. Some common words to describe aged steak are nutty, smoky, and spicy. Another common description is that dry aged steak tastes a little like perfectly buttered popcorn.

The perfect wine for aged steak

Once you’ve decided to splurge and dine on dry aged steak, you’ll want the perfect wine pairing, so you don’t mess up the flavors that you’re spending so much to enjoy. The classic taste of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot will bring out the smoky, nutty taste of the beef. Or you could be adventurous and try a rustic red wine, something to handle the marbled fat and concentrated beef flavors, like a bottle of Syrah.

Now that you understand what happens to beef when it’s dry aged, you’re ready to place your order. To sum it up – ordering aged steak is a dining experience you won’t soon forget.

Flavored Steak or Stick to the Classic?

Montreal steakhouse

Beef connoisseurs will tell you that the only way to cook a steak is by adding a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. While this may be true – salt and pepper bring out the flavors of the meat – there’s a growing trend for flavored steaks to enhance the taste and take beef to a whole new level.

You have to be a bit careful here. You don’t want to hide the flavor of your steak under layers of herbs and spices. Many marinades and steak rubs do just that. The taste of your steak gets lost in the overpowering blend of other flavors that don’t complement the meat.

Rib n Reef steakhouse is known for is perfectly spiced, quality aged steaks. Having said that, there are some interesting steak flavorings that add just that extra bit of zip to your steak dinner.

Sea salt basics

Let’s start with a basic flavor enhancement – sea salt. Sea salt on its own is great on a steak. Combine it with other flavors and it’s fantastic. Some ingredient options to add to the salt are ground coffee, herbs, spices, or wine. Even bacon. Yes, bacon. Coarsely crumble fried bacon in with the sea salt before grilling a rib eye steak. The bacon taste will be there but subtle enough so the steak is still the star.

The heat of chili

If you like a bit of an aggressive spice, a chili rub will add a touch of heat without ruining your palate as you dine. A rub is a dry spice mixture that coats the steak before it’s grilled. There are many variations on a chili rub, with other spices and flavors added to the mix. An up and coming flavor combo is chili and espresso powder. The end result is a smoky flavor that brings out the best of a New York Strip steak.

Floral notes on your steak

You may not think that lavender goes with steak. But this twist is surprisingly good and growing more and more popular among steak experts. Lavender adds an earthy, floral flavor and pairs beautifully with a juicy, tender steak cut such as a Porterhouse or Rib Eye. Just remember that a little goes a long way. Lavender is strong and if too much is used, can quickly overwhelm any other flavors. The perfect way to season a steak – combine a pinch of lavender with ground pepper corns and a touch of salt.

Whiskey ‘n sugar

What can go wrong with whiskey, brown sugar, and steak? Not a thing. You’ve heard of steak topped with a whiskey butter. Leave the butter behind and instead toss together some whisky and sugar. You get the deep, smoky taste of whiskey sweetened with just a touch of brown sugar. It’s all about a full steak experience with just a hint of a new flavor combination.

Distinctive flavor of Chimichurri

Sticking to its Argentinian roots, a chimichurri rub can brighten up any cut of steak with its distinctive flavor. Dried herbs – cilantro, oregano, parsley, and garlic – are blended with a small amount of olive oil. A Flank steak or Filet Mignon doesn’t need much else to take it to perfection.

Herbs de Provence

Herbs and more herbs really are a classic flavor combination that you see used with many foods, particularly in French cuisine. There’s a reason for this. Merge together aromatic herbs and spices and you get a delicate flavor explosion. There are different versions of Herbs de Provence depending on what herbs and spices you’re using. The perfect mix for steak: marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

There are a lot of other up and coming flavors that are being used to bring out the great flavor of steak. Next time you order your steak, be bold and daring…and try something a little different. Nothing will ever beat a classic rib eye but every now and then it’s okay to add some new character to your beef.