Wine train steak

By Wendy Monro

Serendipity: Good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries.

We spent Thanksgiving in Napa Valley, California. We drove into Napa on the most glorious of days. The sun was shining and the air was cool and crisp. It couldn’t have been more beautiful as we drove past grape vines and beautiful wineries. We didn’t have a plan. I wasn’t sure if anything would even be open because it was a holiday.

Our navigation brought us straight into the center of town. I saw signs for a wine train. That seemed interesting. Again, I was fairly certain this wouldn’t be running on that day. However, I decided it didn’t hurt to make a quick call to check it out. A nice woman answered. I asked if the train was running, how much it cost to ride it and if there were any tickets available. She told me that there might be tickets but we would have to go into the train station and find out there. We were also informed that the train was about to board.

We pulled into the parking lot. Since we weren’t sure what we were doing that day, we dressed casually. We wore jeans and sweaters. As we entered crowded building, I noticed that all of the people were really dressed up. I felt a little uncomfortable in jeans. I decided not to worry about it. We got into the long line. I asked the man in front of us if he was in line to purchase tickets. He said he bought the tickets months ago. That didn’t sound good. We waited in line anyway, just in case.

When we reached the front of the line, we asked if there was any chance we could ride the train. We had a dinner engagement at four o’clock and needed to be back at the station by three. I asked what time the train returned and found out that we would be back at three. How perfect is that? The woman left for a while and returned to let us know that we could ride the train but we would be sitting with another couple for the lunch. We didn’t mind. We bought the tickets. Next thing we knew, we were walking towards the train car with champagne. I couldn’t believe our luck.

We entered a crowded train car. The woman, who seemed to be in charge, looked at our tickets and guided us to another car. It was empty. She told us that we would be sitting in there because we bought our tickets so late and the other car was full. We were over the moon. We had the whole train car to ourselves, with our own private server. A few minutes later, another couple sat next to us. As the train pulled out of the station, we realized that nobody else would join us in this car. We introduced ourselves to the other couple and soon became friends. We couldn’t have been sitting next to nicer people.

We had the best time traveling through the countryside, tasting different local wines, while looking out at the vineyards. Soon, it was time to enter the dining car. We asked our server if we could have lunch with our new friends. She obliged. I didn’t have high hopes that the meal would be very good. I assumed that a meal on a train would be mediocre.

Well, I was wrong. Although, they did offer a traditional Thanksgiving lunch with turkey, vegetables and mashed potatoes, we opted for other options. I ordered the mushroom ravioli and Claud ordered the steak with potatoes and vegetables. We figured we would have the traditional meal at the dinner we were invited to attend later that day. Claud ordered a delicious bottle of red wine, which we shared with the other couple. My ravioli arrived and it was sensational. The mushroom sauce tasted so good. I could not believe it. How did we have such amazing luck? Claud loved his steak dinner. He said the au jus and the steak were cooked to perfection. I guess you can have a gourmet meal on a train. Who knew?

The whole time, we kept commenting on how lucky we were to have accidentally spent the day on a wine train, meeting new nice people, and eating amazing food. We just couldn’t believe our luck. Once we returned to our car and headed to our dinner, we realized we were so full. At the dinner, we had to pretend like we could eat another large meal. We tried our best. I don’t think I have ever been so full but it was all worth it.

Wine Train Steak:

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups beef broth

salt and pepper to taste

1 rib eye steak

Heat skillet to medium high heat. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add garlic. Saut garlic for two minutes. Pour in broth. Allow broth to simmer until reduced to half. Salt and pepper to taste. Set this au jus aside. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the steak. Place the steak into the skillet and cook to your liking. Pour the au jus onto the plate and place the sliced steak onto the au jus.