Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Say "Oui" to a Glass of Provence Rosé and Succulent Seafood #Winophiles

It’s weird that I never developed a palate for Rosé, even during the hot summer days. When all my friends are sipping Rosés by the pool, I am the only odd one who’s sipping a glass lukewarm red wine that’s increasingly getting warmer by the sun. However, after Dry January, drinking Rosé becomes logical to ease back into wines. Another appeal for me to open a bottle of Rosé in February is Wendy Klik’s #Winophiles invite to a virtual trip to Provence, France. Rosé, given its various shades of pink, salmon, gold or peach, is a wine that can be improvised as the lucky color for the Lunar New Year or romanticized on Valentine’s Day – by the end of all these good reasons, it’s time to break the cycle and say Oui to a bottle of Provence Rosé!

Air-filled "Money God" to welcome the Lunar New Year
Drinking Rosé starting in May is a lifestyle in the Mediterranean coastal part of southern France, and of course in Côtes de Provence as well - you can get a fancy bottle of Rosé or buy Rosé via a pump in supermarkets in the areas. The production of Rosé is the blood flow of the Provence wine regions, in which Côtes de Provence is the largest of the nine appellations as well as an immensely diverse appellation. With the exception of Bandol and Bellet, the Rosé produced by the rest of the seven appellations including Côtes de Provence is consistently of high-quality, year after year, but has somewhat homogeneous characteristics (i.e., dry, light-bodied, good acidity, high concentration of Grenache) that local and global consumers seek after. When you say Provence, you think Rosés!  

The 2017 Manon Côtes de Provence Rosé illuminates with the salmon hue in a very attractive bottle - is fancy to look at and exhibits all the iconic Provence Rosé characteristics that are explained above. What I get even more out of this bottle is the dried pit fruit like apricot and peach flavors that add an additional layer of richness and "bite" to the mouthfeel. It finishes with firm acidity that lingers, replaying the pleasure you just experienced. On the nose, the white flower, strawberry and tad of lime zest flourish.

This Manon Rosé comes from a “prestigious” family, which has a long history of making wines.  Since 1987, Luberon Roger Ravoire, heir to a dynasty of winemakers, prepares wines with great care and patience, reflecting the authenticity of the terroir that is situated at the crossroads between the Rhône and Provence regions and the originality of the vintage.

With a little creativity, I’m pairing this Rosé with some unconventional seafood dishes.  When swimmers are painfully stung by jellyfish infested warm sea in the summer, eating jellyfish is the best revenge against this sea creature - a delicacy that is served in authentic Shanghainese restaurants as an appetizer. Its chewy, rubbery but bitable texture is oddly pleasurable as the mouthfeel is as fun as eating a cross between al-dente spaghetti and gummy worms.  Although you can buy preserved jellyfish by the pound in the Asian grocery store, the pre-made jelly fish packets are just as good if not even better.  It comes with sesame-oil or spicy flavors - as easy as opening a package and mixing it with the sauce packs included - your jelly fish appetizer is ready to serve.  Beneath the sesame-oil-flavored jelly fish, I made a quick baby cucumber salad that is tossed in a half clove of minced fresh garlic, salt and a dash of chili oil – the crunchy cucumber and chewy jelly fish are classic combo that is forefront in taste and texture without overwhelming the enjoyment of this Rosé.

Eating tuna is not really part of the traditional Chinese diet, as the cooked tuna is very flaky/dry in texture and without creaminess in taste when it’s cooked. However, I’m thinking a bit outside-the-box here and use some sushi-grade tuna to make Chinese tuna tartar. How do I determine if the tuna is sushi-grade? Ask your fish monger if the tuna fillet is fresh enough to be consumed raw is a good start. I simply used very good quality (typically reflected in price) vacuum-packed tuna fillets - defrosted, cube and used. After cubing the tuna, I marinated it in lime juice and a few slices of ginger for half an hour. The ginger slices are entirely optional. I'm very fond of spicy smell of fresh ginger and use it to repel the mildly fishy taste of the raw tuna. Remove the ginger slices, then gently combine the tuna cubes with a small pinch of salt and a few dashes of sesame oil.  To level up the dish, serve the tuna tartar in martini glasses.

I ate a lot of shrimp toasts when I grew up in Hong Kong. It was widely served in Cantonese restaurants as dim sum, main course by itself or one of the many seafood delights in a large platter dish. Deep-frying is also a very forgiving way of cooking - removing fishy smell or brightening up any food. It  is one of the seafood dishes that even people who don’t like shrimp would love dearly.  Imagine eating crunchy toasts, having the texture of crotons, with the filling of sweet minced shrimp paste…that’s what shrimp toast is all about!  

Deep-fried Shrimp Toasts 🍞🍤

Ingredients (serving 2 persons):
·       ½ pound of shrimp
·       Finely chopped scallion
·       1/8 tsp salt
·       Sprinkle of white pepper
·       4-6 slices of potato bread

·       Remove shell from shrimp, pat dry, coarsely chop the shrimp until it turns into a chunky paste. It is of personal preference if you want the shrimp paste chunkier or more of a spreadable paste – more chopping, more pasty texture of the shrimp. You can use a food processor if you are making these shrimp toasts for a larger crowd.
·       Add salt, white pepper, scallion and sesame oil to the shrimp paste and mix it gently.
·       Remove the crust of the bread. If you prefer a fancier look, you can use a ramekin to circle out the bread.
·       Spread the shrimp paste onto one slice of bread and firmly press another slice on the shrimp paste, making a sandwich. There is no need to fork-edge the bread and make a pocket.  Note: I tried to fork-edge the bread and make the shrimp toast like a pocket. The bread pocket didn’t close entirely at the time it was dropped in the oil. The good thing is that the shrimp paste is still in tact and stays between the bread slices.
·       Heat oil in a fryer or sauce pan.  Once the oil is heat up to the smoking point, turn it down to medium. Note: lesson learned for me, when the oil is too hot, it burns the bread very fast!
·       Slowly slide the toast into to oil and deep-fry for 2 minutes and then turn to another side and deep-fry for another 2 minutes.
·       Remove the toasts from the oil and rest them on paper towel.
·       Serve immediately. 

The last seafood I paired with the Manon Rosé is pan-fried skate wings. Why? When I see this fish, I buy it and eat it - no question asked! Skate wings are probably the type of fish that is not attractive to mainstream grocery stores due to its low profit-margin - $2.99 a pound when I bought it from the Asian grocery store. It’s inexpensive, but with great texture - tender, firm and creamy, which is cooked by French a lot with capers. To me, I simple pan-fried it with some Montreal Steak Seasonings, a gourmet-tasting and -looking fish is on your plate.  At the fishmonger, ask him/her to remove the dark and white skin if possible. I personally never have to remove the skin myself.  Watch this YouTube video if you end up doing it yourself.

Bringing the warm and sunny Mediterranean coastal part of southern France spring to the still cold snowy Northeastern US by drinking Provence Rosé and eating seafood is a thing you can do to live in the moment, with anticipation of the flowery spring and bright summer days all through a glass of pink Rosé!

This month's French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange.  They provided some of our members with a copy of "A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle.  You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook.


  1. Rose is such a food friendly wine. I think it pairs well with just about anything. I am so glad you joined us this month. I'm going to keep an eye out for that jellyfish next time I'm in the Asian store.

  2. Thanks Wendy. I may start drinking more Rose going forward...

  3. Thanks for joining in, Pinny. I have developed a taste for Rose being part of this group. It's very food friendly, I think.

    1. Great. Rose everyday! It was a popular thing last year. This group empowers us to try different wines, and improves our pairing and cooking skills - very happy I'm part of it!

  4. Wow! What great pairings! I want to try them all! I will definitely be making your shrimp toast recipe this weekend! And the jellyfish...I'm going to head to the International market and find some of that!

  5. Let me know how you like them. So much food inspirations after the monthly #winophiles - more cooking and eating to do :-)

  6. Love these options! I almost made an Ahi tuna steak to pair for this chat. Love your photos.

    1. Thanks. I think Ahi tuna steak is good idea with Rose.

  7. I really loved your descriptions of the jellyfish texture -- evocative and fun! I will definitely have to try it. I also liked the idea of getting revenge on the suckers. On the other hand, while I like skate, I prefer to order it on the rare occasion I see it on a menu. I have bad memories of having to filet them during culinary school -- they were really annoying!!!

  8. Thanks.

    The fishmonger did charge me extra to filet the skate, and I don't blame him. I definitely don't want to do it myself.

  9. The pairings look wonderful and I love pairing seafood with rosé. It has year-round appeal, and to me it shines with fresh products. Thanks for sharing!