8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On 2:48 PM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine in , ,    No comments
Lobsters molt their shells twice a year, leaving their hard shells behind and creating a new shell that is quite soft. The old, hard shell is completely full of meat when it sheds, and the new shell leaves plenty of room for new muscle to grow. The best lobsters to buy, of course, are the hard-shelled kinds, since you’re paying for the meat and not the water that fills the space between the meat and the soft shells. The best time to get these hard-shell lobsters is right before the molt, in May and November. During the summer, it’s often soft-shelled lobsters that are for sale at the market.

One upside of the soft shell lobster season is that the price per pound can be spectacularly low. In fact, last week I paid just $4.99 a pound! At that price, you can afford to buy a second – aka, the “daily double.”

I live in Manhattan, so I don’t have a grill, but I’ve heard that grilling soft shell lobsters over hickory charcoal is terrific. Forget about using a gas grill; you might as well be broiling.

Even though broiling is strictly for hard shells, I never really liked them that way. I find broiled lobsters appallingly dry, pretty much requiring a good soak in butter just to make them palatable. Boiling is a little quicker, but I hate all the water that fills the shell, especially on those soft shells. Instead, I’ve always steamed mine.

After steaming a lobster, you have a few choices regarding how you’ll choose to eat it. I know someone who dips their lobster in hot sauce; to me, that’s a complete waste of good lobster. I mean, why would you pay for lobster if all you can taste is hot sauce? My wife, on the other hand, puts a little Sriracha (Thai hot sauce) into her drawn butter. To me, that makes it taste more like medium Buffalo wings sauce. I’d rather have wings with that sauce, personally, but it is pretty good, and you can still taste the lobster.

My choice of sauce partly rests on my choice of wine. I don’t really like wine with hot sauce, though Vouvray, Gewurztraminer or sweet Riesling can work well with spicier dishes. With lobster, I’m pretty much a traditionalist — and that calls for matching the richness of the lobster with an equally rich wine.

David Bruce Chardonnay & Lobster Pot
I usually choose Chardonnay — though I stay away from Chablis, as that’s more likely to cut through the unctuous texture of the lobster than complement it. Instead, I lean more toward the classic Côte de Beaune style. I’ve had great success pairing lobster with Meursault, and or even Chassagne-Montrachet. With the soft-shelled lobsters I ate last week, I went with a very Burgundian-style wine from the Central Coast of California, the David Bruce Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay.

This wine was big; rich and spicy, with plenty of oak that didn’t overwhelm the baked apple and poached pear favors. To improve an already felicitous match, I added a few drops of real vanilla extract to my drawn butter. The hint of vanilla, along with the butter, increased the affinity between the full body and oaky flavors of the wine and the mouth-filling, butterfat texture and rich, creamy flavor of the lobster.

-- Paul Bressler


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