Mussels with Saffron and Cream (Mouclade Vendéenne) … excellent with Vermentino di Gallura

Pairing:  Mussels with Saffron and Cream (served with a side of Broccoli), Paired with a 2014 Canayli Vermentino di Gallura Superiore

Food: The Vendee region of western France lies along the coast south of the Loire River. It is perhaps best known for the War of the Vendee, a counter-revolutionary uprising during the French Revolution in 1793 that resulted in the death of thousands of Vendeenne farmers and peasants.

But the Vendee is known for something far more pleasant … mussels. As the story goes, in 1237 an Irish boat captain was shipwrecked on a deserted stretch of Vendee coastline. To survive, he set out traps to catch birds. The sticks he used to elevate the traps above the water were soon covered with huge mussels, much larger than those growing on the rocks. Today mussels are still cultivated in this same way in the Vendee, contributing significantly to the regional economy.

La Mouclad Vendeenne is a treasured dish that pays homage to this our favorite mollusk, as well as other flavors and ingredients of this beautiful land and seascape. Butter, onions, garlic, dry white wine, cognac, saffron, curry powder, a pinch of cayenne, and cream are all combined expertly and lovingly by chef and author Ann Willam in her cookbook, French Regional Cooking, her 1981 classic. We turn to this book again and again for both inspiration and masterful technique.

Wine:  Vermentino is most often associated with the Mediterranean Islands of Corsica (France) and Sardinia (Italy). Elsewhere Vermentino is found in the Liguria and Piedmont wine regions of Italy, and Provence in far southern France. The grape is said to have been brought to Corsica from Spain in the 12th Century, although no actual documentation appears until 1658 pairing and that in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. Complicating things further is the reality that Vermentino goes by other names. In the stunningly beautiful Riviera di Ponente zone of Liguria (think Cinque Terre) it is known as Pigato; in southern France (Provence) it is Rolle; and in the Piedmont wine region it goes by the name Favorita. With that said, this Canayli Vermentino comes from Sardinia where the grape is a relative newcomer, first plantings having been done in the late 20th Century.

Tasting Notes: A deep yellow-gold cold. The fragrance of mango and apricot are both present on the nose, and very pleasant to just sit and sniff. But do taste it. The flavor of apricots reverberates on the palate, joined by the taste of slightly tart green grapes. Dry, distinctive and delicious. The hint of sweetness of the wine plays off very nicely on the rich spiciness of the mussel sauce. An excellent pairing.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mussels with Saffron and Cream: Muscadet (Loire, France), White Bordeaux (France), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Viognier (Australia)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Vermentino:  Grilled Fish (e.g. Striped Bass), Pesto, Shrimp, Scallops

Views of the Vende Region: Vendee Region

A Source:  www.

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