Sunday, March 25, 2012

Clams Casino and Salmon Tartare Paired With 2010 Swedenburg Estate Vineyard Chantilly Virginia Table Wine

If Chef Sue were marooned on a desert island she would survive just fine.  On second thought, she would need a fishing pole, a nearby shipwreck with an unlimited supply of good wine, a wifi connection, an iPad, an eight burner range, All-Clad pots and pans, nice stemware, a well stocked spice rack and a comfortable lounge chair.  Maybe a Caribbean resort would be a better idea.  However, if she happened to find herself on this well appointed island recently vacated by Gilligan and crew, she would be happy to have a diet defined by the fish swimming by and waving with their dorsal fins.

With this in mind, I prepared clams casino and salmon tartare for Chef Sue.  Having both on the plate was a wonderful study in contrast.  In addition to the contrast in temperature (cold tartare - warm clams casino), the dishes offer contrast in texture, and flavor.  The crispy broiled bacon set the clams apart from the tartare, and the rich buttery and briny flavors of the clams casino stand in relief to the tart coolness of the salmon tartare.

With these opposing flavor profiles, the wine selection for this meal presented a dilemma.  Should I pair with the buttery-bacony-briny flavors of the clams, or the tart acidity of the salmon?  For the clams, the first thing that comes to mind is a soft buttery Chardonnay.  The salmon tartare tends to demand healthy acidity and citrus flavors.

Our fortunes were aligned - I had the perfect compromise on hand - a 2010 Swedenburg Estate  Vineyard Chantilly Virginia Table Wine.  Made from 100% Seyval, this wine is light bodied with aromas of lemon zest and grapefruit and flavors that echo the aromas.  A further level of depth comes from a minor undertone of butter and caramel that at times leaves you with the impression common to a Chardonnay.

While tasting this wine with our meal, I came away with the thought that this wine is a chameleon.  When paired with the clams casino, the wine nicely echoed the rich buttery flavors.  When paired with the salmon tartare, the citrus and acidity came to the forefront leaving the impression of drinking something much closer to a Sauvignon Blanc than the thoughts of a Chardonnay brought on my the clams.

Overall, we were quite pleased with the seafood and this wonderfully versatile wine.


Clams Casino

  • 4 strips of bacon finely diced
  • ½ onion minced
  • ½ green pepper minced
  • ½ red pepper minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 stick (8 ounces) melted butter
  • 24 littleneck or cherrystone clams
  • 6 bacon strips, julienned
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a sauté pan, render the diced bacon over medium heat until you have a nice layer of bacon fat for sautéing the vegetables. 
  2. Add the onions and peppers and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Add butter, Worcestershire sauce and mix well
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Scrub the clams and discard any that are open. 
  6. Shuck the clams and loosen the meat from the shells. 
  7. Top each clam with dollop of the mixture and a couple strips of julienned bacon.
  8. Broil until bacon is crisp.  Serve immediately. 

Salmon Tartare

  • 1 pound fresh salmon fillet
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers (alternatively use finely diced cornichons)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Cut the fresh salmon in  a 1/4-inch dice. 
  2. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well
  3. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


1 comment:

  1. It's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource.