It’s January … There’s Snow on the Ground … and I’m Dreaming of Summer Gardens … and Corn (!!?)

Pairing:  Bay Scallops with Corn and Orzo Paired with a 2018 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay.

My Dad passed away almost fifty years ago … I still think of him often. My love of good food and cooking came, I’m sure, from his DNA. We recently enjoyed a meal that featured two of his favorite foods … bay scallops and fresh corn (well … frozen fresh corn). One could say that Dad was a pediatrician by profession, and a gourmet cook and gardener by avocation. Although Mom prepared (and quite nicely) the vast majority of our dinners, Dad took charge of the kitchen when something special was in the offing. Bay scallops, broiled in butter, was one of his most memorable creations. And, in the months of August and September, our monstrous vegetable garden yielded a cornucopia of delights, the highlight of which was corn. Sweet yellow corn. Seneca Chief. Being the youngest of the family, my job was to stand ready to race out to pick the corn at the moment when a huge pot of water on the stove was set to boil. I had to work fast. Pick the corn, shuck it clean and present it to the cook for inspection. Strands of silk stuck to the ears were frowned upon and … God forbid there be any bugs or worms hidden in the cob. Summer in those times was delineated by when the corn was ripe. And, boy, did we eat a lot of it. 

With that bit of family lore, let’s move on to this present day meal … an absolutely fantastic creation featuring bay scallops, corn and orzo. What are bay scallops and how are they different from sea scallops? Bay scallops, as the name implies, live in bays and estuaries along the east coast of the U.S. Whereas sea scallops are found in much deeper ocean water (around 500 feet) and more widely distributed in the world’s oceans. Bay scallops are smaller, around a third of the size of sea scallops, more tender and sweeter. We based this dish on a recipe from the Cooking section of the New York Times. Cook the orzo. Pan-sear the scallops, deglaze with a bit of the water that the orzo was cooked in. Add some garlic to the pan along with some lemon juice. Add the corn and scallions. Cook until the liquids evaporate. Combine all ingredients and finish it off with some grated parmigiana and basil. A truly amazing combination of flavors.

Wine:  The Sta. Rita Hills AVA is a well regarded wine sub-region within the large Central Coast Wine Region, noted particularly for the quality of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah wines being made in what is referred to as a cool-climate viticultural area. The lower temperatures of this area are due to the steady breezes coming in off the cold Pacific Ocean on three sides of the vineyards here. Film buffs take note … the hit movie, Sideways, was shot in the Rita Hills region.

The Brewer-Clifton winery produces only wines that are made from single vineyards that are each determined by the unique geography, geology and climatic conditions of each vineyard. We look forward to the time when we can visit the winery to sample the wines crafted from this interesting environment.

Tasting Notes:  A lovely pale gold color. A clean aroma, reminiscent of a Granny Smith apple. Floral and green field grass accents, including white clover, distinguish the nose of this wine. The flavor merges green apple with citrus fruits (lemon and lime). “Clean” and “crisp” also come to mind as descriptors of the taste. And a long, very pleasant finish lingers on the palate. The pairing of this wine with the bay scallops and corn dish is inspired. 

Other Wines That Pair Well with Scallops and Corn: Sauvignon Blanc (California), White Bordeaux (France), White Burgundy (France), Chenin Blanc (South Africa), Champagne (France)

Other Sea Food That Pairs Well with California Chardonnay:  Dungeness Crab, Lobster, Halibut, White Fish in a Cream Sauce, Salmon

Photos and Maps of the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Region:  Sta. Rita Hills AVA

A Source:  www.