Unfortunately, no picture. But what I needed was something to take to a California Cabernet tasting at Bill Spohn's. Had to be: made at home, border-safe, travel-resistant, finger-foody, and the kind of food you can pass around a table. Oh, and it was going to be a very hot day (by Pac NW standards). I laid awake two nights before pondering the possibles, my mind circling around ingredients like rare roast beef and blue cheese for the wine match but wishing I could just make a salad, as the food at these things tends to be a bit carb-intensive. Too bad, I thought, that crab doesn't go with red wine because fresh Vietnamese spring rolls like some I made last weekend would be perfect...and then it hit me.
Make 'em with roast beef, that fresh-sliced, pretty, rare, solid roast beef (real beef, not that chopped/pressed/formed stuff) at the deli counter! So that's what I did. The beef slices were about 4" by 7-8", a pretty perfect canvas as the rolls would be about 5" in overall length. So I rolled each slice of beef around three-four thin-julienned 4" carrot sticks, a length of green onion top, fresh basil leaves and cilantro sprigs, and then tucked the beef roll inside some soft green lettuce leaf and rolled each in a rice paper wrapper. When I got to Bill's, I cut each roll in half and stood them cut side up on a serving dish. Rice wrappers are just a little sticky--they don't fuse, but they do stick enough to hang onto each other such that the cylindrical rolls will sit upright as a group like a bunch of short pipes. Now, with a cut side up, you can eliminate the messy dipping-sauce-on-the-side problem and instead drizzle half a teaspoon or so of sauce into each roll--in this case, I made a strong vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper and Maytag blue cheese, all of which would enhance the red wine experience.
Date point: one pound of beef provided about 15 slices, which made 30 two-bite rolls. Perfect cabernet food, and I got my salad.