Mussels & Muscadet in our Imaginary Nantes Bistro #Winophiles

#Winophiles Dive Deep into the Loire Region
After our initial cruise through the main wine regions of France, our French Winophiles blogging group is going back to spend some serious time in each region. Our first deep dive will the the Loire.  We’re taking a slow virtual cruise up the Loire river from the Atlantic ocean up to the central vineyards in Sancerre.

Loire River Valley wine regions courtesy of wikipedia.org

Loire River Valley wine regions courtesy of wikipedia.org

This month we’re hanging out at the coast in the Pays Nantais region. This close to the ocean, the climate is 100% maritime. It’s cool with plenty of moisture. Delicate white wines will dominate here. There are a few red wines made from Gamay, but you’ll need to search high and low to find one.

Thai red curry mussels with Muscadet Sevre et Maine

Here we are at lunch in our imaginary Nantes Bistro

As you might expect, the cuisine is dominated by seafood. Clams, oysters, mussels, fish, you name it, with a steamed bowl of mussels and clams a very typical meal. A classic French “Moules” preparation would include a sautéed onion base with white wine and herbs, a version we’ve had on many a Friday night at our house.  I wanted to explore something a little different while keeping in the Pays/Nantais theme. After a quick Google search, I found the city of Nantes, France has 5 Thai restaurants, so I’m thinking we could find Thai Red Curry Mussels if we visit Nantes. Bingo!

White wine with a beautiful golden color from lees aging and many years of rest.

Beautiful golden color from lees aging and many years of rest.

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
The most noteworthy wine style of the region is Muscadet sur lie. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, these delicate, high acidity wines can spend months on their lees before bottling, typically the following spring. The lees are the spent yeast cells left behind after the vinification process. Leaving a wine on its lees can add complexity and a level of richness to the wine it might otherwise not acquire. The lees also help to preserve the freshness of the wine. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine refers to a small winegrowing area located between the Sèvre and the Maine rivers, both of which flow into the Loire at the town of Nantes.

True confession: I have never been impressed with Muscadet wines in the past.  Sure, they are light, minerally and acidic, but I just didn’t understand the enthusiasm for the wines.  I asked Mike at Sunfish Cellars for some help picking out some exceptional wines, and he didn’t let me down! Mike pointed me to the wine we used for our pairing today, a 2004 (!) Muscadet Sèvre et Maine. As they are less famous, you can get a typical Muscadet sur lie for less than $20, and even a 12 year old exceptional bottling is only $25!

Le Clos Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2004 - fresh at 12 years!

Le Clos Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2004 – fresh at 12 years!

Le Clos du Château L’Oiselinière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2004 ($25 from Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Clear, deep gold color
Nose: Smells a bit of the sea and fresh oysters, clean & fresh but briny. Also, a bit of yeasty dough with lemons and pears.
Mouth: Minerally, good acidity but not tart until the finish, then it shows up. Medium body, long finish, with tart acidity, fresh impression, and lemons.

Muscadet sur lie with thai red curry mussels

The wine was perfect with the mussels

Wine Pairing: Thai Red Curry Mussels & Clams with Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
The Château L’Oiselinière initially seemed much like previous Muscadet wines.  Nice texture, but subtle.  Over the course of the meal, this wine impressed me more and more, leaving a very strong memory and a desire to go and stock up! Perfect with the mussels and not overwhelmed by the slightly spicy red curry sauce, the wine, even at 12 years old was super fresh with great cleansing acidity. The Thai red curry mussels (and clams) were a perfect addition to our growing list of steamed mussel preparations.  When we reach 100 different preparations, I’ll publish a cookbook!

Mussels and clams are a great combination, and the Thai red curry sauce was a winner!

Mussels and clams are a great combination, and the Thai red curry sauce was a winner!

French Winophiles and Pays/Nantais
Take a look at what my fellow French #Winophiles have discovered in our first stop up the Loire river! Join us on Saturday, March 19th for a live Twitter Chat at 8 am PST/11 am EST using hashtag #Winophiles to share your favorite wines, food, and travel experiences from Pays Nantais.

Here’s a peak at what they are sharing Saturday:

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla presents “Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Bruschetta with Chateau Mattes-Sabran Rosè”

Jeff from Food Wine Click premieres “Mussels & Muscadet in our Imaginary Nantes Bistro”

Jill from L’Occasion pairs “Light &  Fresh with Muscadet”

Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog shares “Pays Nantais and Taste of Contemporary Muscadet”

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog goes deep with “Diving into Loire Valley Wine with Winophiles: Pays Nantes”

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva  shares “Puff Pastry with Bleu Cheese & Pair with Wines from Pays Nantais

Join us this spring as we virtually cruise up the Loire:

  • April 16th – Anjou/Saumer
  • May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray
  • June 18th  – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire

Interested in joining The French Winophiles? Email Christy Majors at culinarydiva@icloud.com.

Minneapolis / St. Paul Sources
I’m not compensated by either of these sources, they are simply where I shop:

Thai Red Curry Mussels & Clams

This recipe is a mash-up of a couple versions I found online, here’s one. Julie and I are mussels fans, we figure 1 lb. each as a main dish serving.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds mussels or a mixture of mussels and small steaming clams
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 Red bell pepper, cored and sliced into strips
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, then minced
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 1 8 oz. bottle clam juice
  • 4 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stemmed and chopped. Reserve a few pieces for garnish
  • 1 crusty baguette, sliced. Toast/grill if you prefer.

Optional

  • 1 pkg. mung bean noodles (cellophane noodles), soaked in warm water to rehydrate

Instructions

  • Keep the mussels/clams on ice until ready to cook. Clean the mussels if necessary, removing the “beards”. Discard any mussels with broken shells.
  • Set a large enough pot to steam the mussels & clams over medium heat
  • Add 1 Tbsp EVOO, then add the onions, sauté until clear, 1-2 minutes
  • Add the garlic, stir and cook until aromatic, 30-60 seconds
  • Add the red pepper slices and the ginger, sauté for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the coconut milk, clam juice, red curry paste, brown sugar and fish sauce, stir well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil
  • Add the mussels & clams, cover and steam for about 5 minutes. Clams are ready when the shells have opened.
  • Scatter 1/2 the chopped cilantro over the clams and mussels
  • Pour off the curry liquid into a separate bowl briefly.  If desired, add the cellophane noodles and spoon into the bottom of individual serving bowls.  Alternately, serve the curry liquid on the side.
  • Scoop servings of the mussels/clams into the serving bowls, garnish with the remaining cilantro and lime wedges and dig in!
  • Use the baguette slices to mop up some of that delicious curry liquid

Loire_nantais_mussels_muscadet 20160311 7

Comments
10 Responses to “Mussels & Muscadet in our Imaginary Nantes Bistro #Winophiles”
  1. Jill Barth says:

    Looks incredible! We did mussels too, prepped them differently, and found a delicious pairing. Now I want to roam around Nantes, enjoy the sights & tastes. Cheers!

  2. Oh my! Your red curry mussels look and sound amazing. We adore mussels, so I’m looking forward to that mussel cookbook! As for the wine…great minds!

  3. I’ll buy that cookbook Jeff! Sounds fabulous. Leave it to you to find the 5 Thai restaurants – great inspiration, and can’t wait to try this pairing. (PS, awesome photos!)

  4. Love your thai red curry mussels pairing! Wow! I do not drink a lot of Muscadets but after this month’s French Winophiles I am not sure why. I love the salinity notes of the wine and it is a very versatile food wine. Love your pairing as always. Cheers.

  5. culinarycam says:

    This look fantastic, Jeff! Thanks for sharing a fab recipe and wine pairing. Cheers!

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