Here’s the issue. I am no longer able to hold up my part of the joint lobster dinner at 71 Woodbury Hill. And this is after Sandy and I had reached an amicable settlement wherein I trade my lobster thorax (home to the nuisance little feelers, and the various digestive and reproductive components) for Sandy’s lobster tail and claws. After this exchange, which many would regard as landing in lobster heaven, I have a plate of two tails, and four claws of delicious, succulent lobster meat & a small side of melted butter.
Sandy has no trouble polishing off with unrestrained enthusiasm the contents of the two carapaces. I, on the other hand, can only handle one tail and one claw without crossing into uncomfortably full territory. What to do with the surplus lobster? A year ago I put into play a pasta recipe I stumbled upon: Lobster Cacio e Pepe; and it proved to be an excellent repurposing of the extra lobster meat.
I have made that dish three times since. And each time I make it, I love it. But I was in the mood to find an alternate dish to prepare. Then I saw a recipe on the Allrecipes internet feed that caught my eye: Lobster Newburg. I scanned the details: prep – 10 minutes; cook – 20 minutes; total – 30 minutes. Ingredients included egg yolks, butter, sherry, wonderful spices and heavy cream. And then in the introductory text to the recipe, this concluding sentence: “Serve hot, over buttered toast slices.” Pure poetry.
To the wine choice. I see one to two strategies to pursue. With the richness of the dish, go with a wine built along similar lines (Chardonnay). OR, contrast the richness of the dish with a wine that is fresh & pointedly crisp (Pinot Blanc or Muscadet). I chose a Chardonnay from a tasting I hosted a few weeks back. I had a dozen Chards to select from; and went with a wonderful Aussie from the Perth side of the continent. Southeastern Australia maybe home to the country’s most recognizable wine zones, but I prefer the wines from the Margaret River in the west. Always dangerous to paint with too broad a brush, but I find the wines from the Margaret River have better balance of fruit and structure, more restraint, more “old world” sensibility, than the opulent “show ponies” seen in the east.
For those who “want their cake & eat it, too” there is another wine option that offers both richness, and crisp freshness: French Brut Champagne. And more specifically, Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne, which is straight Chardonnay… and in my opinion, it is the most robust style of Champagne. Richly flavored and the delightful bubble adds an airy degree of fresh zest to each and every sip. Rich & fresh together. Go ahead…. Have your cake and eat it, too!
Ashbrook Estate Chardonnay ’19 (Margaret River, Australia)
Ashbrook Estate is one of the oldest established wineries in the Margaret River region, located in the heart of Wilyabrup. Truly family owned and operated since 1975 by the Devitt family, Ashbrook produced its first commercial wine in 1979. Australia’s pre-eminent wine authority and critic, James Halliday, has awarded Ashbrook Estate a five red star rating, an accolade afforded to only Australia’s top 8% of wineries. As per tradition, half the Chardonnay underwent primary fermentation in brand new, premium French oak barriques and the remaining half in stainless steel. Both portions were matured on undisturbed lees for eight months. Then further matured for 12 months in an underground, climate-controlled cellar. The 2019 Chardonnay is perfectly integrated, delicious and complex and will age gracefully for many years to come.
Delavenne Père & Fils Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs (Champagne, France)
Blanc de Blancs is produced with Chardonnay grapes from the Estate’s Grand Cru vineyards in Cramant, on a slope in the Côte des Blancs. It has a light yellow robe, with light green reflections. A delicate sparkle brings this champagne to life, accentuating its aromas and elegance. Delicate nose and sparkling elegance. Aromas of fresh fruit and citrus. Great harmony and balance.
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
3 olives stuffed with blue cheese
2 egg yolks, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup of butter
2 tbsp dry sherry
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp cayenne
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp paprika
¾ lb of cooked lobster meat
2 slices of good sized toast
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and heavy cream until well blended. Set aside.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the egg yolk mixture and sherry. Cook stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly. DO NOT BOIL.
4. Remove from heat, and season with salt, cayenne, nutmeg and paprika. Add lobster. Return pan to low heat, and cook gently until heated thru.
5. Serve hot over slices of buttered toast. Garnish with fresh parsley.
n.b. I have already prepared this dish twice. On my second go I sourced fresh picked lobster meat from Stew Leonard’s. A great time saver (although I was deprived of viewing Sandy’s demolition of lobster bodies)! Don’t breeze over your choice of bread for the toast. I used thick slices from a good sized Tuscan boule. A bakery Rye would also be a great choice.