Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Spring!

Friday marked the vernal equinox, the official change of season from winter to spring, and while winter doesn't seem to want to let go, signs of change are in the air. Sunset is later, it's trying to warm up, and I've sufficiently forgotten how frustrating golf is to want to go out and flog the ball again. Food and wine is definitely a seasonal affair chais nous, and about now I begin to have a yearning for lighter, fresher foods and wines to match. In this
case we decided to mark the moment with a take out lobster dinner from our favorite fish monger, Metropolitan Seafood.
We started with Oysters Rockefeller, steamed clams with drawn butter, chilled shrimp, stuffies (as baked stuffed clams are known in Rhode Island), 4 whole lobsters, and a couple of freshly steamed Maine crabs Nick recommended to my wife. While there isn't much meat in the carapace, their sweet, large claws are reminiscent of stone crabs, and gave the lahbstahs a run for the money! Coleslaw, potato salad and warm crusty French bread filled in the rest. If you haven't done it, this is an easy, fun, one phone call dinner with no prep and easy clean up after. We'd hoped to do it outside but it was just too cold so "had at it" in the kitchen. Hot lobsters, cold salads and sides, kids having a blast and entertained for hours - how great is that? Metropolitan seafood rocks! Visit them in the shop on Old Route 22 in Clinton or online at Metropolitan Seafood, not just for lobsters but for the best selection of fresh, super high quality seafood I have found anywhere! Sign up for their emails to find out what's fresh a couple of times per week.
All this was washed down with a starter of Domaine Landrat - Guyollot Pouilly Fume La Rambarde, $22 a mineral, herbal, cool, crisp and focused wine with brilliant acidity and freshness that will make you think you are in the bistro in Hemingway's "A Movable Feast" where he impeccably describes the beauty of eating oysters. This is classic Sauvignon Blanc from one of the places that does it best! Oysters, shrimp, clams - bring'em on! 
With the Lobsters we moved on to the Domaine Pollier St. Veran "en Messie" 2007, $16.50, a truly artisanally crafted and affordable white Burgundy made by the husband and wife team of Daniel and Christine Pollier from a three acre parcel of 15 and 22 year old vines. Only about 10% new oak keeps the focus on the terroir and not the wood. Creamy but with brilliant underlying acidity and mineral undertones that keeps this fresh and exciting on the palate and carries its stony apple fruit well. Since we're not drinking as much Puligny these days, this "poor mans" version is now our "go to" everyday white Burgundy.
In the coming months, both when dining out and at home, I'll be looking for spring-themed ingredients: new potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms (morels), spring lamb, whatever seafood the lads at metro seafood tell me is fresh and delicious, ramps, sorrel, watercress, artichokes, peas, and on dishes, recipes and menus that capture the essence of spring. As far as wine goes, a shift happens here too, as if my palate senses the change of clime and seeks equilibrium and balance. Crisp cool Loire valley whites, Txakoli from the Basque region of Spain, Albarino from northern Portugal. Mid weight reds too, Cru Beaujolais, Burgundy (always!), Chinon (and I had a Sancerre Rouge that was lovely!) and a host of old-school lively, wines from Valdeorras and Galicia in Northwest Spain that will make their way to the shop and hopefully be available through the spring and summer, and of course the fresh crop of Rosè wines soon to arrive! Be sure to visit the shop, either in person or online at 56 Degree Wine.

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