Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ocean's Alive

It was a great weekend weather-wise, the first great weekend of spring so we went into total summer mode and made the first rule for the weekend - it had to have once been underwater. In other words, it was a seafood weekend and it was as good as the weather. The fishmonger outdid himself.

On Saturday we went to friends' house and took a huge slab of Alaskan halibut that was just off the airplane. We heated a cast iron skillet on the outdoor grill to something in excess of 500 degrees. We dusted the fish, cut into serving portions, with chipotle powder, added some grape seed oil to the skillet and tossed them in, flesh side down. The quickly browned and we turned them over, closed the lid on the grill and let them finish cooking while we stir fried some sugar snap peas. Along with a small salad it made for a great meal. The wine was a 2005 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royeaux. Tart and crisp with a good dose of that Chablis minerality. Not the best Chablis I've had, but it was perfect with the halibut.

Today was equally as good. There was a five pound bag of Cape Cod mussels that came in on a different plane. We sauteed some shallots in butter, along with some chopped fresh fennel, tomatoes, garlic, and Thai chili paste. Once the fennel and shallots were softened somewhat we added a cup and a half of Riesling and the mussels. They steamed in a pot with a tight lid just until they opened. The mussels were removed and we added a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and some heavy cream to the pan and cooked the sauce down for a minute or two. We dumped it over the mussels.A handful of parsley and some crusty bread and it made for the second great meal of the weekend. The Riesling assuaged my guilt about eating from both U.S. coasts in one weekend since it was a 2006 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley wine. Kinkead Ridge is about 40 miles from home.

The Ohio River Valley was once regarded as the Rhineland of the U.S. Thanks to black rot and odium the wine production died in the late 1800's. It is now being revived and Kinkead ridge is in my opinion the premier winery in the region. Their Riesling is very Germanic in style. It checks in at only 10.5% alcohol and is very close to a Kabinett in style. There is the kerosene or petrol on the nose and the hint of sweetness on the finish, all balanced by great acidity. The sweetness tamed the fire in the chili paste and the acidity was just a perfect match for the richness of the mussels. Toss in a loaf of locally baked, crusty bread to mop up the juices and there was no need for anything else.

Life is good.

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