Thu 1 Oct 2009
LL came home for lunch yesterday — remember, our new regime is two moderate meals a day — and fried one small soft-shell crab. Now the curious point is that neither LL nor I are particularly fond of soft-shell crab, but Saturday morning we were at the Memphis Farmers Market standing at the table of a guy who drives down to New Orleans to pick up fish and seafood from his family’s boats and LL said, “Well, let’s try a soft-shell crab.” I was making objecting hums and haws in the background, but she went ahead; we also bought a pound of shrimp and two beautiful fillets of tuna. (The tuna became the ceviche for the tacos we ate Monday.)
Anyway, LL came home for lunch, cleaned the crab, breaded it with flour and panko crumbs and fried it in a skillet. She also sliced some green tomatoes, coated them and fried them. I sliced one ciabatta roll and spread remoulade sauce on the interior. LL slid two slices of fried green tomato onto the bottom half of the roll, set the fried crab on top of the tomatoes, and I sprinkled some shredded romaine lettuce on top of the crabs, then capped it with the other half of the roll. Voila! A fried green tomato and soft-shell crab sandwich, which I cut in half, so we each had a little sandwich, about six bites each. We served these with a salad of baby arugula, chopped romaine, tomatoes and sliced red and yellow peppers. A great lunch!
We were eating on the screened porch in back — the rain stopped after two weeks, and we’re having gorgeous mild weather — and LL said, “We need about this much wine,” holding thumb and forefinger about two inches apart. So I looked in the wine fridge and thought, “Oh, what the hell!” and plucked forth a bottle of the Rossi-Wallace Chardonnay 2007, Napa Valley. The wine is made by husband-and-wife team Ric Forman and Cheryl Emmolo, each of whom has a long history with wine and vineyards in the Napa Valley. Rossi-Wallace, named for their mothers, is a new project; this chardonnay and a Pinot Noir 2007 are the initial releases.
The Rossi-Wallace Chardonnay 2007 sees no oak and no malolactic “fermentation.” Made all in stainless steel, the wine rests seven months on the lees of spent yeast cells. The grapes derive from the same vineyard that supplies Forman’s chardonnay under his eponymous label but for this wine the grapes are harvested a bit earlier. The result of this fairly hands-off approach is a beautiful chardonnay of shimmering purity and intensity. Classic pineapple and grapefruit scents are permeated by quince and ginger and hints of limestone and wet gravel. After a few moments, a wafting of jasmine lifts from the glass. In the mouth, the wine is lithe and supple, almost crystalline in its vibrant acidity; the pineapple-grapefruit flavors take on a touch of roasted lemon and pear, with hints of smoke and mushroom-like earthiness. Such emphasis on the lively and delicious character of the grape is rare in California. If I were managing a restaurant wine list, I would want a couple of cases of this chardonnay in the cellar. Unfortunately — there’s always a rub! — only 150 cases were produced, so mark this one Worth a Search. About $25.
LL and I drank about one-third of this bottle at lunch — it managed the spiciness and assertiveness of the soft-shell crab quite handily — and finished it last night with shrimp risotto.