Sunday, July 15, 2012

Crab Bisque, Crayfish and Cheese Grits, Cajun Fried Aligator with a Sweet and Spicy Remoulade Paired with Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling

In my last post, Adventures in Juice Land Aided by Cold Soup, I wrote about my recent exploration of a juice diet (strong armed by Chef Sue) along with my thoughts on moderation when embarking on any similar dietary trek.  This pairing is part of that moderation and features somewhat of a seafood theme of crab bisque (brackish water) , crayfish and cheese grits (saltwater), and fried alligator (fresh water).

My real dilema with this meal was the wine pairing.  Early on in the conception I settled on a refreshing Riesling.  I was confident a dry Riesling would pair well with the bisque and the alligator, but as I thought further I was concerned a dry Riesling might be challenged by the strong and spicy flavors of the crayfish and grits.  There was only one thing to do - select both a dry Riesling and an off dry Riesling and let the chips fall where they may.  It turned out to be a pleasing decision.

I selected two Rieslings from Chateau Ste Michelle; a 2010 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling, and a 2011 Columbia Valley Riesling.  The winemakers tasting notes for the dry Riesling state “The Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling is a crisp, dry and refreshing style of Riesling. It exhibits fresh flavors of white peach and mandarin orange, and ends with a clean finish. This is an incredibly versatile food wine and my favorite with oysters.”  I agree with these tasting notes and would add that the aromas nicely echo the flavors - you taste precisely what the nose foretells.  I would also add that the wine has a well balanced acidity that reinforces the winemakers claim this is a versatile pairing wine.

The 2011 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling is the slightly sweeter sibling of the 2010 dry Riesling.  The sweetness is developed in moderation and does not detract from the prominent peach and citrus flavors.  Winemakers tasting notes: “Our Columbia Valley Riesling is a blend of Riesling from throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley. We craft it to be a refreshing, off-dry Riesling vintage after vintage. The wine delivers sweet lime and peach character with subtle mineral notes. This is our “any day Riesling” that is a pleasure to drink and easy to match with a variety of foods.”  At times, the sweetness of some Rieslings can limit pairing options, but in this case the sweetness is sufficiently moderated that pairing options are more diverse than the sweeter interpretations.

The great fun of this pairing - two wines and three components to the meal - presented six pairing combinations leading to a thoughtful and enjoyable meal.  I will start by saying both of the wines worked nicely across the plate.  The peach flavor featured in both wines worked splendidly across each of the pairings.  However, both Chef Sue and I had our favorites - and our assessment was in lock step.  The dry Riesling worked best with the crab bisque and the alligator.  Both benefited form the well balanced acidity.  Our favorite pairing was the 2011 Riesling with the crayfish and grits.  The added sweetness balanced perfectly with the piquance of the crayfish and cheese grits. 

At less than $10, these wines are exceptional values, magically enjoyable, and great choices for pairing with your favorite dishes.  I highly recommend both for your next pairing or simply enjoying as a refreshing choice on a warm summer day.

As you read through the recipes, you will note that the quantities far exceed a dinner for two designed for moderation.  I plan on enjoying the leftovers for a couple of days!  Blissful.

One final note - please accept my apologies for the photography.  Unlike my normal dining room photo studio products, these shots were taken with my iPhone.  I sadly forgot to pack my camera and lighting kit for our weekend retreat.  I will do better next time barring any further age induced memory lapse.


Crab Bisque


  • 1 pound freshly picked crab meat
  • kernels from four ears of roasted corn
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 5 basil leaves finely chopped
  • juice from 5 large tomatoes (either use a juicer, or mash the tomatoes through a colander) 
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine corn, onion, basil and tomato juice in a pot over medium heat and allow to cook for two hours (important in reducing the acidity).  Add water as necessary to maintain appropriate consistency.
  2. Just before you are ready to serve, add the crab and heavy cream.  Bring to serving temperature and ladle into bowls.

Crayfish and Cheese Grits


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound cleaned precooked crayfish
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tomato finely diced
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring water and half and half to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil.  Sauté onions and garlic until onions are tender.
  3. Add diced tomato, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, creole seasoning, and chili pepper. Sauté until liquid is reduced by half.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Plate the grits and top with shrimp mixture.  Enjoy.

Cajun Fried Alligator

  • 1 pound aligator loin cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  1. Prepare egg wash by beating egg with a dash of water.
  2. Prepare breading by combining corn meal, panko, cajun seasoning and a dash of salt and pepper.
  3. Coat alligator cubes in egg wash then coat with breading.
  4. Gently place coated alligator in 375 degree oil and cook until golden brown.
  5. Serve with sweet chili pepper remoulade for dipping.
Sweet Chili Pepper Remoulade

Mix 1/2 cup sweet chili pepper sauce (available at any Asian market) with 1/2 cup mayonaise.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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