This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006.

Florentine steak

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two generously or four smaller portions)

Thick T-bone steak, about 1 1/2 pounds (650g)
Black pepper
1 clove garlic
1 or 2 tablespoons (15-30g) high-quality olive oil


1. To meet the formal Tuscan regulation, your steak should be between 3/4-inch and 1 3/4 inches thick, and it should weigh between about 20 and 28 ounces. Get the best quality steak you can find or afford; dry-aged, grass-fed beef is best. To approximate the Italian process, select a steak in which the T-bone is roughly in the center, with a large tenderloin portion, Put the steak on a plate and let it come to room temperature. Do not season it before grilling.

2. Start charcoal in your grill and let the coals burn until they're very hot, glowing and covered all over with gray ash. Set up the grill for direct heat with the coals, if possible, 6 to 8 inches below the grate.

3. Slap the steak on the grate and leave it still, without moving, for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on whether you want it rare or medium-rare. Surely you don't want to go past medium-rare. Turn it with a spatula only, and grill it on the other side for another 4 to 6 minutes. The Italian regs call for flipping it once and only once, not touching it at all otherwise. I cheated, though, and gave it a 90-degree turn about halfway through each side, to burn in attractive criss-cross grill marks.

4. Prepare a serving plate large enough to hold the steak by rubbing it with a crushed clove of garlic and drizzling on the olive oil. When the steak is ready, place it immediately on the oiled platter; season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve it while it's sizzling.

Red meat, red wine. Any questions? The wine doesn't have to be Italian, but when I'm enjoying this classic Tuscan treat, it only makes sense to me to pair it with the best Tuscan wine I've got - Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or "Super Tuscan" blends, or perhaps similar reds from nearby Umbria. The other night, we went in that direction with an excellent 1999 Sagrantino di Montefalco from Rocco di Fabbri.