Food & Drink, Libations

White wines and clam linguine: A recipe and pairing

I need a dollar, dollar. Dollar is what I need!

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Every year right about now, I realize two things: I spent and ate too much over the last couple of weeks. I also am beginning to be a little restless due to the lack of greenery in the stores and on the horizon.

Oh you can buy lettuce or anything your little heart desires, but let’s face it, the green leafy stuff in stores is a pale, limp shadow of what it should be. Rather like my bank balance and other organs if you think about it.

So how to reconcile these problems? Well one of the easiest answers for me is good old curly leafed parsley. I learned several years ago that parsley will keep for a couple of weeks if you treat it like cut flowers. Take a bunch home. Soak it in the sink. Cut an inch or so off the stalk, and stick it in a glass of water. It will look fairly limp for 48 hours but then it will start to perk up, and you’ll need to keep an eye on the water level.

I leave it on a north facing windowsill near the dining room table. It means some greenery around the place, and you’d be amazed how cheery scrambled eggs become if you pluck a stalk of parsley and clip it over your meal.

If you start paying attention, you’ll find that parsley is a frequent ingredient in recipes. Most call for dried, but you can substitute fresh easily enough by adding more. It adds crunch, a few vitamins and a pleasant grassy astringency to any number of meals as a garnish or as an ingredient.

If you really want an inexpensive meal, one of our winter and camping staples is Sairey’s clam linguine. Total cost for two people is maybe five bucks, and I’m probably 50 cents high. It’s quick. You’re out of the kitchen inside of half an hour – a major plus if you’ve spent the last two weeks feeding the Assyrian Hordes. The Destruction of Senacherib.

Cover the bottom of a sauce pan with olive oil. Add 15 ml. (1 tbsp) dried oregano (or fresh if you’ve got a plant), a couple of cloves of chopped or crushed garlic, and 30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped parsley. Sairey sautes them for a couple of minutes to release the flavours, then starts adding the juice, but not the clams, from a can of clams. (Clams become too mushy if added now.)

She reduces the sauce and then adds a 125 ml of dry white wine, and continues reducing till it’s almost at the texture we like. Finally the clams are added and stirred in, reducing to the finished consistency.

About when you add the white wine you want to start cooking linguine. When the linguine is done, maybe a couple of minutes after the sauce is ready, serve, add the sauce on top and voila! Dinner. Carrot sticks on the side are easy, still available and always tasty.

[box title=”Canned Clam Linguine” color=”#333333″] 2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp hopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 140 ml can whole clams

10 oz. linguine (Three-quarter of a one pound pack)

– Drain clams, reserving juice.

– Sautes oregano, parsley in oil for about a minute.

– Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.

– Add clam juice and reduce sauce for ten minutes.

– Add the wine, and continues reducing till at the appropriate texture.

– Add the clams, and leave sauce a minimum heat.

– Cook the linguine to desired softness. Serve, with a large spoonful of sauce on top.

Serve with carrot sticks on the side. Serves two.[/box]

So what wine do we use? Well if you want to have a white wine under ten bucks, you either have to drink the most popular wine du jour (pinot grigio) or a wine nobody buys.

I tend to pick the latter, and these days that means torrontes, a white grape from Argentina. There’s only one available here for under $10, Fuzion, and itís a chenin blanc/torrontes blend. This is a very nice wine, crisp, charming, and well worth trying, especially at this price

You need to spend a couple of bucks more if you want to try a pure torrontes whites. There are several available on the prairies. Altivo Reserve from Finca Eugenio Bustos is a first rate example of the grape for under $12. Michel Torino’s Cuma, which is organic and a longtime favourite label of mine costs about the same. Finca La Escondida makes another for a buck more.

If you’re determined to spend less than $10, and you wonít try Fuzion (stick in the mud!) your best bet is pinot grigio.

The cheapest PG I drink these days is Copper Moon, a blend from sundry foreign locales with some Canadian grapes, a nice crisp wine tasting of granny smith apples and citrus.

If you’re feeling moderately wealthy you can choose the absolutely best possible wine I’ve come across for clam linguine: Vermentino. It’s a crisp, light white, slightly herbaceous white with an absolutely wonderful underlying minerality. It goes beautifully with spinach salads or pecorino cheese. (I’d guess it’s brilliant with oysters too, though I’ve never tried this last one.)

Under $10

Fuzion Chenin Torrontes, Argentina, 2010. $9.95 ****
Copper Moon Pinot Grigio, Canada(ish), 2009. $9.29 ***

Under $12
Cuma Torrontes, Michel Torino, Argentina, 2010. $11.80 ****
Altivo Reserve Torrontes, Finca Eugenio Bustos, Argentina, 2010. $11.80 ****
Torrontes, Finca La Escondida, Argentina, 2010. $12.91 ****

Big Spenders and Epicures

La Mora Vermentino Maremma Toscana, Cecchi, Italy, 2011. $15.99 ****
Poggio al Tufo Vermentino, Tommasi Marrema, Italy, 2011. $16.99 ****


James Romanow writes about Wine and all things Boozy for the Spectator Tribune. Follow him @drbooze

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