Monday, October 23, 2023

Wine and Seafood - Sponsored Post

I am a Marylander born and bred, and there's nothing that I enjoy more in the summer than a crab feast. Here, that's a pile of blue crabs--Callinectes sapidus--steamed with beer and a ton of spicy paprika-based seasoning, be it Old Bay or some other brand. There are other places that appreciate a summertime crab feast, too, though in those parts of the country they're referred to as "crab boils" and often involve potatoes and corn as well as crab. Sometimes they also include shrimp, or crawfish, or even a different kind of crab. Two Fish Crab Shack, in Chicago, uses snow or king crab in their popular seafood boils, which can be ordered with or without shrimp, and can be had with jerk or lemon pepper flavorings as well as a more traditional Cajun seasoning. Their product can also be found in the frozen seafood section of your local Harris Teeter, which is where I bought mine. I may prefer blue crabs to other varieties, but I am always willing to try something new.

Each pouch contains everything one needs for a proper seafood boil: potatoes, corn, shellfish, and a pack of Cajun-style sauce. Pop the veg into boiling water, add the shellfish, wait a few minutes until everything is cooked through, drain, and toss with sauce. Pretty easy. 

According to the nutritional label, there are four 530-calorie servings per package of Two Fish Seafood Boil, each comprising 3-ish shrimp, 1/4 of the crab, one piece each of the corn and potato, and 1/4 cup of sauce. That might be enough food for two not particularly hungry people who have an appetizer first and dessert afterward, but it's certainly not dinner for four! Most of the calories are in the oil-based sauce, but unless one eats it with a spoon like soup, the vast majority will end up discarded with the shrimp shells and crab detritus. Not to mention that calories will be burned fighting over the crab's fifth leg. Personally, I think most of the oil should be discarded, with half the seasoning used for the seafood and the other half reserved for later in the week, stirred into fresh pasta with either more seafood or some rotisserie chicken! So set aside some sauce, and share your boil with one friend. Buy another bag if you're inviting friends over for dinner.

You're probably thinking to yourself at this point, "where does the wine part of this post's title come in?" I'm glad you asked....

There's a great reason why Marylanders pop open a can of Natty Boh or Corona or other easy-drinking lager-type beer with their steamed crabs: it just works. A cold beer's refreshing effervescence and somewhat bitter flavor puts out the heat of the inevitable encrusting of crab spice and rock salt without dimming the subtle flavor of the crustacean itself. Now, dear reader, think about your favorite wine to go with crabs...or clams, shrimp, or oysters. Brand and varietal, please. Unless you are a connoisseur or sommelier, it's a difficult task, isn't it?  Many affordable white wines that may seem suitable for quaffing with a casual seafood supper are often just plain crap. This is why Ripe Life Wines exists: founder Mary McAuley saw the need for wines that would pair perfectly with the clambakes that were part of her summertime Jersey Shore experience. So she created her own.

Clambake Chardonnay is light and refreshing, with lemony and green apple notes. Clambake Rose is also light and dry, with notes of white nectarine, strawberry, and grapefruit peel. Moules Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine is lemony and apple-y, like the chardonnay. In a nod to traditional champagnes, it also has bread-like notes, in this case brioche. All three are absolutely made for drinking with seafood boils, with notes that complement both the subtle flavors of the seafood itself and the heartier seasonings that accompany them. I particularly enjoyed the Clambake rose with our savory shrimp and crab dinner. The Blanc de Blanc is a natural with spicy foods, but also with simply steamed clams and especially raw oysters. 

Ripe Life Wines are not currently available in Maryland, but they can be sampled at tasting rooms in nearby New Jersey. Two Fish Seafood Boils are available at Maryland area Harris Teeter stores.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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