Cooking with Crosby Roamann: Seared Halibut

This recipe is courtesy of Fabio Trabocchi, owner of the restaurant Fiola in Washington DC, and was brought to our attention by Lizzie Munro at Wine Spectator. The original calls for porcini mushrooms instead of shitake, and Madeira instead of white wine, but Whole Foods was out of porcini on the day we wanted to make this recipe, and we don’t normally stock Madeira in our kitchen. We love the addition of fresh fava beans, which brings a bright green dash to this hearty spring meal.

Trabocchi recommends a hearty Italian red wine with this dish, like Barbaresco, but we preferred to pair this with our own Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc from Allais Vineyard. The Old Vine white wine cuts the cream and cleans the palate with every sip, and lends a lingering lemony cream flavor to this dish.


  • 4 6-8 ounce portions of halibut
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh fava beans
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 pound small, fresh morel mushrooms

Directions (this complicated recipe is easiest if you break it into discrete tasks and attack each one separately, in order):

  1. Removed the fava beans from their pods, blanch them in boiling water for a couple minutes, then run them under ice cold water, and peel. Set them aside in a small bow.
  2. Cream sauce base:
    • In a wide sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the shitake and cook until the mushrooms are nicely roasted. Remove and drain excess oil.
    • In a wide sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it foams. Add the onion and garlic and sweat them until they are soft and translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by one-third. Add the bay leaf and roasted mushrooms and stir to combine.
    • Heat the heavy cream in another sauce pan until warm and then add it to the mushrooms. Simmer until the flavors are blended and the cream is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Morels and Fava Beans topping:
    • Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a wide sauté pan and add the shallots and thyme. Cook until the shallots are softened and translucent.
    • Add the morels and toss to coat with the shallots. Cook until the morels are slightly wilted.
    • Add the fava beans and gently mix to coat.
    • Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Season the halibut on all sides. Heat a heavy (e.g., cast iron) pan over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until it is smoking, and sear the halibut presentation side down 3-4 minutes. Gently flip the fish using a spatula and cook another 4 minutes, or until the skin has released from the pan.

Plating: Spoon the warmed shitake crema among four plates, then top with the halibut, presentation side up (skin side down). Then spoon the morels and beans over the fish. Garnish with a couple drops of extra virgin olive oil and serve.


2012 Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, Napa Valley 750ml


Blooms, Shoots & Vines

Spring has kicked in; the days are warm and long but not too hot, and the city of Napa is blossoming. It is a perfect time to visit. In the past few years, a diverse and exciting food scene has emerged downtown, including Zuzu (great tapas), Torc (contemporary American fare with a distinct Napa flair), and Morimoto Napa –the best sushi around. And there are so many other delicious restaurants to try downtown, like Celadon, and Cole’s Chop House, Oentotri, La Toque, and Angèle. All serve sophisticated, seriously good food.

So, really, come, visit, stay, and plan a time to see us this spring. We’ll send you home with a few gems from our spring garden, pictured, and a bottle or two of great wine.

This month we are releasing our 2012 “Old Vine” Sauvignon Blanc, from Allais Vineyard in the heart of Napa Valley. This vineyard is situated in the middle of the venerable Rutherford bench, known better for its Cabernet Sauvignon, and in fact the grapes for this wine were harvested from 38-year-old vines interspersed among much younger Cabernet.  We fermented the juice in new French oak barrels and aged the wine for eight months on its lees. It is ripe without being cloying, with notes of sweet Meyer lemon, kiwi, and very subtle anise. It’s perfectly delicious, and just two barrels were produced – a total of 50 cases. Purchase it here, while you can.

Cheers and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmothers out there!



2012 “Old Vine” Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, Napa Valley 750ml


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