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Polenta, clams and chardonnay

Our Wine of the Week, Chateau St. Jean 2010 Alexander Valley Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay ($25), is as warm and bright as the spring sun, with pretty floral aromas that suggest the summer treasures we will soon enjoy. There's a hint of spice that makes me think of juicy Indian blood peaches and a halo of vanilla that suggests nectarine cobbler. As subtle oak flavors emerge, the ghost-like trace of smoke joins with the sweet fruit flavors and, before you know it, you're thinking of grilled pineapple.

This wine is ideal for a luau, with kalua pig, Hawaiian mac salad, laulau (pork and butter fish cooked in taro leaves), chicken long rice, coconut pudding, butter mochi dessert and lots of fresh pineapple. It is also an excellent companion to lobster rolls, clam chowder, seared scallops, rock shrimp salad, stuffed pork loin and corn, from on-the-cob to creamy polenta. It works beautifully with wild Pacific King salmon, too, especially when finished with a buttery sauce or fruit salsa.

For today's recipe, I've paired Manila clams with creamy white polenta, which has a slightly creamier texture and sweeter flavor than yellow polenta and is traditionally served with seafood. You can, of course, use yellow polenta if that is all that you have on hand.

<strong>Steamed Clams with Creamy White Polenta</strong>

<em>Makes 3 to 4 servings</em>

—Creamy White Polenta (recipe follows)

3 to 4 dozen live Manila clams

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced


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