Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1 Bottle/ 2 Meals - Cuvee Blanc from Sonoita Vineyards

We strolled into our local Sprout's store with a mission, buy a Dungeness Crab!  "I'm so excited mom," exclaimed my four year old son.  He was in fact very excited and remembered all the details of how to eat, clean, and take apart a crab.  He picked out his "perfect crab" and then proceeded to carry it with pride throughout the rest of the shopping trip and held it in his lap on the way home.  It was a proud moment watching my little man enjoy the whole process of picking out his crab to helping crack the shell and devour it like a pro.  I may just have a future budding chef on my hands and maybe a sommelier since he also enjoys his "wine" with dinner.  During our regular tastings according to him, his "wine" (apple juice in an old wine glass) usually smells like strawberries and hot dog!

Once again he ate, more if not the same amount of crab as we did.  When we were picking out the meat from the body, he sampled more than helped!  The crab tasted delicious again, and I like to serve it plain and naked with just a side of Ghee to really showcase the flavor of the meat.  Plus it is whole experience to set the legs on the dinner table and pound away at them to get to the good stuff.

Check out the episode of Good Eats : Crustacean Nation for the best way to clean, and dismantle the body of the crab, or pick-up his book "Good Eats; The Early Years".  If you are a fan of Alton Brown (my husband loves the show) then this is the perfect book companion.

I paired an Arizona white wine from Sonoita Vineyards for this week's meals.  The wine consists of a blend of chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  When I tasted it at the vineyard, mom and I thought right away the wine cried out for a creamy textured meal to really mellow it and bring out the right flavors.  I knew it would marry nicely with the Crab and Ghee due to the butter and silky texture of the crab.  The Havarti and Pear sandwich (which is what mom and I thought of at the winery) treated my taste buds with the wine to a wonderful culinary experience.  The sandwich alone is divine, but adding in the wine took the dish to a new level.  There has been a tremendous amount of chatter on the web lately about how more people are drinking wine as a cocktail and not with food.  But I am here to say regardless on what side you are on, food and wine are the ultimate culinary experience and a "bad" wine can suddenly taste amazing with the right food, and can elevate even the most simple food to a five star eating delight.  They are made for each other, and really there are no rules, just eat, drink, and explore and you never know, magic could happen on your plate!  This is exactly what happened this week in our house!

Here are my tasting notes and menus

Cuvee Blanc (55% Sauvingon Blanc, 45% Chardonnay barrel and tank fermented) 2010 Sonoita Vineyards, Arizona.  This bottle was provided as a sample from the winery

Nose: Acid, lemon, citrus, herbal (first day a little harsh) 2nd day nose was more creamy and buttery because it had a chance to open up and breathe.
Taste: Day 1: little harsh and off putting, but had an element of cream and lemon, I worried that the wine spoiled because it's flavor had changed from what I remembered in the tasting room, a concern I always have with AZ white wines.
Day 2: Wow!  This wine was rescued from a bad review!  Suddenly it felt soft, round, and dare I say lush!  The crisp lemon acidity danced on my palate on the finish, and the finish was great.  Obviously this wine needs air, because I have not had a white wine that on the first day disappointed me, only to drink again the next day and have it completely transform.  Even the nose went from off-putting (like green beans) to pears and peaches.

Menu #1: The wine came across like I said earlier a little harsh, however that being said the Ghee helped marry the wine with the meal.  I like the idea of a Chard and SB blend with crab, so if I did this meal again, I would find that blend again to drink with the dish.  The mushrooms in the peas also helped to bridge the wine.

Menu #2Magic Pairing! Everything in  this meal paired superbly with the wine; a total winner.  The Havarti sandwich melted with the wine, and just blew my taste bubs into fireworks.  One of my notes wrote, "Creamy heaven happens between the cheese and the lushness of the wine."  And the fig and pear made the wine sparkle with delight.  The roasted fennel is a delicious treat.  Something you need to try.  The fennel caramelizes in the oven into this almost dessert like texture and tastes beautiful with the wine.  A super easy meal, yet super amazing and yummy!  If you cannot find a blend like the Sonoita or you are not in Arizona any (lightly oaked) Chardonnay would also work well.

Here are the menus:

Menu #1:
Dungeness Crab with Homemade Ghee

Peas and Mushrooms

Sourdough Bread

Menu #2
Havarti and Pear Sandwich
Given to me by my sister, Samantha (the Jacques Pepin fanatic)
Serves 4
8 Slices of Whole Grain Organic Bread
4 oz Havarti cheese
2 Bartlett Pears
4 TBS of Royal Fig jam (found mine at Sprouts)

1.  Thinly slice the pears lengthwise, do the same for the cheese.
2.  On one side of bread spread 1 TBS of the Fig jam.  Then stack the sandwiches as follows, 2 pear slices, 2 cheese slices, 2 pear slices, 2 cheese slices, other slice of bread.  Each sandwich gets 1 oz of cheese for a lighter version or 2 oz for a more gooey cheesy sandwich.
3.  Heat a large skillet on medium heat, and take a stick of butter and rub the pan for a very light coat of butter.  Add sandwiches to skillet and brown 3 minutes per side or until toasted and cheese melted.
4. If you have a panini maker go ahead and use that to toast the sandwich.
5.  Cut into triangles, serve, and enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with a goat cheese sauce (melt some herbal goat cheese and pour on asparagus)

Roasted Fennel
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs with the top cut off
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves sliced

Heat oven to 400 degrees
1.  Slice the fennel like an onion and separate the rings on a jelly roll pan
2.  Drizzle olive oil on the fennel and mix to coat the fennel
3.  Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle on the garlic.  Place in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes or until browned.  Every oven is different so at the 20 minute mark watch carefully so you do not burn the fennel.
4.  Take out of oven, it should be nice and caramelized.  Let cool, then coarsely chop and serve.  Enjoy!

Please share you comments below!  Thank you and enjoy!

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