Recipe: Beef Filet Carpaccio & Alvi’s Drift Wine Pairing
For Valentine’s Day, Derick van Biljon shares his take on an old-world icon – Beef Filet Carpaccio with Alvi’s Drift wine pairing
KISS like you don’t care – is the best advice never given. Read that again and call me in the morning… In matters of the heart, it is wise to trust your gut, speak your mind, and "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
When it comes to relationships, I can hardly give any measure of sound advice, but on food, I have some educated opinions:
Simplicity is what I would prescribe. Three or four choice ingredients. Find the things you truly love and let them shine.
Seasoning is key. Any chef worth their salt will tell you, the simpler a dish, the more refined the seasoning should be. Experiment until you find the winning combinations.
We eat with our eyes first. Even while a plate is in the making, all our senses are engaged. We smell, we see, we hear, we feel. Be mindful of this.
Honest food will speak for itself. Go for quality over quantity – always.
Lastly, have something good to wash it all down with. The mind loves a reset, and so does the palate. A pause for sips in between mouthfuls creates space for enjoyment, cleanses the taste buds, allows the senses to catch up, and builds new appreciation for the promise of the next delicious bite.
"The build-up is as vital as the bite. Every step of the way contributes to the final experience, so make it all count."
Making the perfect plate of food is much like finding the perfect love. It takes awareness, courage, dedication, consideration, time, sensitivity, insight, joy, fun, grit and grind. Yes, and sometimes it needs just a little bit of luck.
This is my recipe for Love and Happiness. Now, I’m going to show you how to build a real South African Beef Carpaccio.
Carpaccio is the culinary personification of simplicity. My first introduction to this Venetian classic was at a friend's house, long after dinner had ended.
Out of the freezer, a chunk of meat wrapped in cling film appeared. Impossibly thin slithers were carved and arranged on a small plate, a few drizzles, sprinkles, and something green. He poured a glass of champagne and said, ‘Enjoy’.
Love at first bite is an understatement. The beef was exceptionally delicate and bursting with meaty flavour. The lemon’s acidity, salt from the capers, peppery herb from the rocket and the parmesan’s fudgy sweetness, all lubricated with prima olive oil, played an overture in my mouth.
Surprisingly, the Brut Chardonnay paired perfectly with these flavours. Red meat doesn't necessarily mean red wine, especially with the freshness in this beautiful dish.
Carpaccio is a great way to stretch a choice cut of beef and dress it up for a delectably layered feast of flavours.
Drawing on local ingredients, my take on beef carpaccio celebrates a selection of South African hero brands, each bringing its distinctive character to this continental classic.
Before You Begin…
A simple recipe requires ingredients of the finest quality. Here's what we went for:
The filet was sourced from Wild Kalahari Mindful Meat Co. The flavour and texture are exquisite, and there is good reason their meats are served in almost every award-winning restaurant across South Africa.
Acidity is a crucial aspect of any carpaccio recipe. I make my pesto verde using Rozendal Fynbos Balsamic Vinegar, made from a blend of red wine cultivars and activated by an indigenous “mother” culture. Naturally infused with buchu, honeybush tea, rose geranium, wild olive & wild rosemary, it holds a hint of natural sweetness.
Traditional carpaccio is made with unseasoned beef, but I like to create a dry rub of carne herbs, pepper and salt to flash-cure the filet. Oryx Desert Salt is a proudly South African purveyor with conscious and sustainable harvesting practices. Their smoked Kalahari salt lends a delicate roundedness to my carpaccio.
This recipe could be paired with dry bubbles, rosè or a fruity red, but Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc is the clear champion here. Fermented in oak, this barrel-fermented wine is elegant, with rich, velvety notes and a complex palate.
Derick’s Beef Filet Carpaccio and Alvi’s Drift Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc Wine Pairing
With pesto verde, horseradish aioli, capers, rocket and parmesan cheese.
Total time: +- 5 hours
For the filet:
- 700 g dry-aged Wild Kalahari filet of beef, dressed and trimmed
- 10 g parsley
- 5 g rosemary
- 5 g thyme
- Oryx Smoked Desert Salt – a very generous grind
- Freshly cracked black pepper
For the pesto verde:
- 20 g wild rocket
- 5 g parsley
- 5 g sweet basil
- 5 g thyme (lemon thyme, if available)
- 30 ml Rozendal Fynbos Vinegar
- 60 ml olive oil
- 10 g toasted almonds
- 10 g brined capers
- Zest of one lemon
- 10 g grated hard cheese – Pecorino or Parmesan
- Freshly cracked black pepper and salt (if needed)
For the plating:
- 20 g wild or baby rocket
- Caper berries (or regular capers)
- Parmesan cheese shavings (opt for quality)
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon wedges
Horseradish aioli (optional):
- 2 free-range or organic egg yolks
- 1 tsp. grated fresh or 2 tsp. preserved horseradish
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- Juice of one lemon
- Freshly cracked black pepper and salt
- 60 ml canola or extra virgin olive oil
For the filet:
- Rinse the filet under cold water, pat dry, and rub with 30 ml vinegar. Rest for 10 minutes in fridge while preparing the herb rub.
- Wash and thoroughly dry herbs. Chop semi-fine.
- Dust a clean surface with herbs, Oryx Smoked Desert Salt, and black pepper. Make sure this surface is large enough for rolling the filet.
- Blot excess moisture from the filet, then roll in the herb-salt mix, ensuring even coverage.
- Chill uncovered in the fridge for 3 hours, then wrap tightly in cling film, compressing an even thickness along the length of the filet.
- Place in the freezer for 45-60 minutes before plating and serving.
For the pesto verde:
- Blitz all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
- Adjust seasoning to taste and let it develop for 15 minutes before serving.
For the horseradish aioli:
- Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender or food processor; blend for 1 minute.
- Gradually add oil in a thin stream while blending, until the aioli thickens.
- Taste for seasoning and acidity.
Once your filet is well firmed up (just before freezing point), find and chill an attractive platter or large plate.
Cut meat into thin slices of about 5 mm. Using the ball of your palm or a chef’s knife blade, flatten each slice further with outward pressure.
Arrange filet slices on the chilled platter, overlapping slightly. Optionally, cover the platter and refrigerate (advisable in warm weather).
Before serving, top with pesto verde, aioli, halved caper berries (one per slice), parmesan shavings, and rocket. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and serve with toasted bread and a squeeze of fresh lemon just before eating.
Each bite should have a little bit of everything on it. Enjoy with frequent sips of well-chilled Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc.
Having a second bottle on standby is a good idea; a platter of carpaccio is a surprisingly leisurely affair.
Uncover more mouth-watering Alvi’s Drift food and wine pairing recipes here.
Derick’s Top Tips
The prepared filet can be kept frozen for up to 6 months, if stored correctly. Transfer it to the fridge two hours before serving and enjoy when so inclined.
If your Valentine is not allergic to fish, add three or four anchovy filets to the pesto verde. This lends a grounded umami flavour that will harmonise with any meat dish.
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