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.

Mussels O’Neill … with a Nova Scotia Tidal Bay White

Pairing:  Mussels and Pasta Paired with 2016 Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay White

Food:  Confession time … we love mussels … REALLY love mussels! Our favorite food to eat when we’re on Prince Edward Island is mussels. We pig out on potfuls of mussels steamed in a little water and some wine, maybe a leek and some herbs for added flavor. Back to the confessional …our eyes are often bigger than our stomach resulting in … are you ready …leftover cooked mussels! What to do? Our favorite thing is make what we call Mussels O’Neill, our adaptation of a recipe found in the wonderful cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite by Molly O’Neill. Simply boil down about 2 cups of the mussel stock left from steaming the mussels to about a cup. Add about 1/2 cup of wine, reduce again. Add 1/2 cup  half and half or cream to make creamy texture to the sauce. Add the cooked mussels and some pepper to taste. Mix the cooked linguini into the sauce. Serve then sprinkle with chopped, fresh parsley. Amazing.

Note: Prince Edward Island mussels are, in our humble opinion, the best mussels on the planet! Oysters, too!

Mussels O'Neil

Wine:  Nova Scotia wines are becoming a hot item among oenophiles in Canada and elsewhere. Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia, and Benjamin Bridge is one of twelve wineries across the province making a Tidal Bay wine. It is made from L’Acadie Blanc, Oretega, and Geisenhiem grapes, all cold-weather varieties developed for their flavor and hardiness. L’Acadie Blanc is perhaps the most widely grown white wine grape in Nova Scotia.

Tidal Bay Benjamin Bridge

Tasting Notes:  A pale straw color, almost colorless. The nose hinges on the delicate aromas of green melon and green apple, with a background smell of fresh ocean breezes (appropriate for a wine called Tidal Bay!). Green melon and Granny Smith apple persist on the palate, with a real tang of the green apple … but definitely not citrusy. One can almost detect some pleasant, light salinity in the taste that carries over to the finish. The tanginess of the wine acts as a nice foil to the creamy taste of this mussel dish. Some wines have intangibles that make them great pairings with certain dishes. Tidal Bay has these traits that make it a great pairing for locally sourced, maritime seafood.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mussel Dishes:  Chablis (France), Muscadet (Loire Valley), Verdicchio (Italy), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Chasselas (Switzerland)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Tidal Bay:  Stuffed Bar Clams, Raw Oysters, Grilled Shrimp, Pan-Seared Scallops, Smoked Salmon

Read About:

A Source:  Prince Edward Island Liquor Agency