Desert Island Wine


Although I'm asked it quite frequently I still find this to be a curious question: 

What's your favorite wine? 

Yeah, I know, I've pondered this one before. And there is, of course, no one answer. Nor, to my mind, should there be when it comes to something that brings such a wide array of aromas, flavors, and pleasures, intellectual and sensual, into our lives.

It's like asking someone to name his or her favorite LP, book, or movie. Uh, you mean I can choose only one?

Perhaps a better way to phrase it might be...what are you really excited about right now? 

Ah, now that's something I can get into.

Book: Patti Smith's M Train.

LP: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing Chopin.

Movie: Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, as recently released on disc by the Criterion Collection (see the still at top).

Perhaps somewhat perversely, I have thought about what wine I would want on hand should Sher and I find ourselves stranded on the proverbial desert island.

That one's easy: Chablis.

I say this because not only does Burgundy's most northern appellation make some of my favorite expressions of the chardonnay grape — from high toned salt- and rock-driven examples to the richer, creamier variety — but also because I'm assuming that our island will have abundant fishy things and crustaceans to keep me and Sher happily nourished for the duration of our stay.

But you needn't wait to find yourself in such a predicament to try this simple and satisfying way of cooking lobster that we improvised one recent day at Stinson Beach.



Desert Island Lobsters

Get yourself some fine feisty lobsters, on the smaller side, one per person, and fire up the grill.

To kill the lobsters, first perform a brief blessing of thanks before plunging a chef's knife into the joint where the head meets the body. Rock the knife forward through the lobster's head. Separate the claws and tail from the body, which you can save for a delicious stock or bisque.  

Using the heel of the chef's knife, crack the underside (more bulbous part) of the lobster claws, which creates an open pocket for steam to escape from while cooking. Place the claws on the red-hot grill and cook them — they more or less poach in their own liquid — for about 10 minutes.

The opening created also allows you to test the lobsters for doneness. When cooked to your liking remove the claws and place the whole tails on the grill for about the same period of time (if your surface is large enough you can grill them all together). The tails will want to curl up from the heat but don't worry about that, simply flatten them out or flip them a few times. 

Serve with some melted tarragon butter and a fine Chablis or other white Burgundy of your choice.