Friday, March 4, 2011

Butterfest with Lobster and Grand Cru White Burgundy

This particular pairing inspired my pregnant wife. "This is the best food and wine combo I've ever had!" Rona said, repeatedly. Wow! I thought it was good, but best ever? Must be hormonal! But apparently, guests around Scott & Kate's dining table were impressed as well. And yes, she sips a tiny bit of wine. My "extensive" research shows that drinking exclusively Grand Cru Burgundy improves fetal brain capacity. I swear!

After all, how can you go wrong with a Grand Cru white Burgundy from an excellent producer from a soft, approachable vintage (2006) and a masterful rendition of a lobster tail by the hand of friend chef extraordinaire Scott H., whose culinary delights I've previously remarked on on these pages.

Admittedly, my palate has grown tired of the heavily oaked full-bodied chardonnay style, with loads of butter that comes not just with Napa Chardonnay, but even with white Burgundy of the highest order (notably from the great Puligny-Montrachet terroirs in Cote de Beaune). But, there is a time and a place... and a dish to pair with. For me, what distinguishes top Burgundy from Napa (apologies for generalizations here) are stone fruits rather than tropical fruits, minerality, blossoming in the glass rather than getting tired, greater overall balance and finesse, and most obviously the acidity, which matched wonderfully with fresh-squeezed lemon juice incorporated into the mushroom sauce. The 6 or so sticks of butter used in cooking the tails and sauteeing the mushrooms begged for the bigness of the Chardonnay, and bigness they got! The key to the succulent dish was not overcooking the lobster. Task accomplished, by careful poaching in butter (diluted with just a bit of water - oh no!) for about 15-20 minutes under the simmering point. As soon as the lobster tails began to curl, Scott served them. The whole dish was quite simply cooked, but with a secret ingredient - Pastis, a liqueur flambéed over mushrooms, giving them a hint of licorice/anice/fennel-root flavor that matched the earthiness of the parsley and chives sprinkled in the end.

Raw "ingredients": lobster tails from New England Lobster Company in South City and 2006 Paul Pernot Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru Burgundy.

Transformation of the lobster throughout the poaching process.

Plain brown mushrooms or wild mushrooms work well.

Voila! 2 Michelin stars for sure! Bravo!

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