Thursday, July 10, 2014

Manhattan Clambake with Clambake Cardonnay

There's nothing more quintessential to summer than a classic clambake.  A one pot meal filled with clams, lobsters, chorizo, mussels, shrimp, corn, potatoes, onions, and garlic, best sopped up with crusty bread topped with butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Equally perfect when cooked on a beach bonfire as when prepared on a stove-top, a clambake is a fantastic memorable event, made even better when surrounded by good friends.

I was recently invited to a Manhattan rooftop clambake, hosted by Mary McAuley of Ripe Life Wines, and creator of Clambake Chardonnay.  This is not your average chardonnay, it is designed to pair perfectly with a classic clambake.  And, dear reader, it does.

Co-hosting the event was Danielle Fichera of The Lovely Diaries, who kept all of our glasses filled with wine, as any good hostess should.  

Mary McAuley of Clambake Wines & Danielle Fichera of the Lovely Diaries

 Photo by Susan Baker

Ms. McAuley is a sommelier and culinary school graduate who has gone on the quest to create a chardonnay perfect for a summery clambake.  She does not own a vineyard, instead she seeks grapes from small producers making phenomenal wines.  Each year is a very different wine from a different vineyard, and each with it's own distinctive characteristics.
The 2012 Clambake Chardonnay is from Santa Lucia Highlands, near Monterey, California.  The area is known for light and crisp wines that have a high level of minerality due to the prehistoric oyster beds in the soil, which pair perfectly with seafood.

Clambake Chardonnay 2013 is from Medocino, California, that is known for its under-ripened crisp microclimates.  2013 was a banner year for Mendocino, and yielded gorgeous wines that are both crisp and still have that full bodied flavor that we all know and love in a chardonnay. 

Ms. AcAuley sure knows how to pick 'em.

After a clambake demo, and of course, gorging on delicious bites of lobster, clams, shrimps, I was convinced.  This is a perfect wine for a clambake.  It's so delicious you might just want a glass of it for any occasion (read, the author would like a glass right now).

The best part is Clambake Chardonnay is $16.95 and drinks like a much more expensive wine that will surely impress your guests or your host.  (Whomever needs impressing, that is).

Yours Truly, Enjoying Clambake Chardonnay
  Photo by Susan Baker

Now that you have the perfect libations, here's a clambake recipe to go with it:

Stove Top Clambake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2-3 Onions, cut into wedges
6 Garlic Cloves
1/2 bottle white wine
1 c water
1-1/2 lbs small new potatoes
1 lb chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Coarse Salt
3 Lobsters (1-1/2 lbs each)
36 Littleneck Clams, Scrubbed
4 ears of corn, cut in half
2 lbs of mussels, debearded and scrubbed
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp, shells on
2 T butter
2 Lemons

In a large pot, combine onions garlic, white wine, and water.  Place a steamer basket on top of the onions and add potatoes, chorizo, and 1 Tablespoon of salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add lobsters and cover the pot, cook over a high heat for 15 minutes.  Add clams and corn, cook covered for 6 minutes.  Add mussels and shrimp, cook covered for 4-8 minutes until mussels are open and shrimp are cooked through. 


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