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Almejas en Salsa Verde (Clams in Green Sauce) + 2019 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina #WorldWineTravel

 

This month Jill of L'Occasion is hosting the World Wine Travel bloggers as we dive into the food and wine of the Basque region...the Spanish side. You can read her invitation here.

If you are reading this early enough feel free to jump into our live chat on Twitter on Saturday, June 26th at 8am Pacific time. Just follow the hashtag #WorldWineTravel and be sure to add it to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here are the articles that the writers are sharing...


The Basque Country
from wikipedia

I have long been fascinated by the Basque region for a couple of reasons: (1) Jake grew up with a Basque 'uncle', well someone he called an uncle but just a really close family friend; (2) you have to love an area whose identity is so fiercely independent from either bordering country's cultures and languages, especially one as tiny as this; and (3) I always struggle with that Spanish-French tug-of-war in terms of which dishes and wines come from which side. And, regarding that latter one, I am relentlessly stubborn in my quest to get it right.

Back in 2019, the French Winophiles were looking at the Basque region and I poured and cooked all Spanish dishes! I posted Spanish Basque Nibbles for a French Wine Group Assignment and Paella + Another Wine from the Wrong Side of the Pyrenees.

So, let's dive in: Where is the Basque Country wine region located? Straddling a region that lies between France and Spain, the Basque Country is in the Western Pyrenees and along the coast of the Bay of Biscay. You might see it called Pais Vasco.

Comprised of three main provinces - Álava, Guipuzcoa, and Vizcaya - the Basque Country wine region is divided into four appellations:  Rioja Alavesa, Txakoli de Getaria, Txakolí de Álava, and Txakoli de Bizkaia, also called Denominaciones de Origen or DOs. And the most common grape varieties are Tempranillo, Graciano, Hondarribi Zuri, Ondarribi Zuri, Ondarribi Beltza.

In the Glass

I was able to get my hands on a bottle of the 2019 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina for this event. Amats is both the brand of the Txakoli as well as one of Zudugarai's vineyards. Situated on the Gipuzkoa coast on the Cantabrian Sea, this estate sits at almost 100 meters above sea level. This wine is produced from the local Hondarribi Zuri grapes with vines are between ten and fifty years old, planted in sandy substrate.


The wine poured a brilliant straw color with flecks of green on the rim. On the nose, the aromas were slightly floral but with an almost garrigue-y character of herbs and sea salt. On the palate the wine was classically Txakoli: crisp and bright with definitive tart apple flavors. And this one had a surprising effervescence from some residual carbon dioxide from fermentation.

With its warm fruit and saline, this wine reminded me of a summer's day on the beach. It's the perfect summer sipper! 

On the Plate

I decided to make a Spanish dish that reminds me of the beach: Almejas en Salsa Verde, clams in green sauce. This recipe is enough for a hearty appetizer for four at about 6 clams per person. Feel free to adjust the amount of clams per person as needed.

  • 24 clams
  • 1 cup onions, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta or bacon (this is not traditional, but I love the added smokiness)
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, oregano, and chives), divided
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • freshly ground salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • organic flowers for garnish, optional (I had some borage and love the pop of blue color in the pot)


Place clams in a large bowl and cover them with cool water. Allow to soak for at least 20 minutes. Make sure the clams are closed; if they are slightly opened press the shells closed. If they open back up, discard them. If they stay shut, keep them. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, add a glug or two of olive oil and add chopped onion and pancetta. Cook onion until softened and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add in the flour and stir until it forms a paste, then pour in the white wine and water. Raise the heat and cook until the sauce begins to thicken.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the herbs. Add the clam and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the clams begin to open. Once all the clams are open, remove them from the pot and bring the liquid in the pot to a boil. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half.

Place the clams in a serving bowl. Pour the reduced sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining herbs and flower garnish, if using.

Serve immediately.

That's a wrap for the #WorldWineTravel event on the Basque. Next month, I'll be hosting and we'll be diverging slightly from our usual wine focus by looking at hard ciders, specifically from Spain but a comparison to other areas is a possibility, too. Stay tuned.

Comments

  1. I so love Txakolina! This dish, well, first it's stunning. I love the borage flowers! I'm sure this was a brilliant match to the wine! So when can we go?!

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  2. I thought Basque was only in France until it popped up here in this event. I live under a rock LOL. Love that clam dish. I foresee it being served up here this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You had me at Almejas! I can picture the clams and wine in my mouth right now and it's making me very hungry!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This lovely pairing feels like a day at the beach. So summery and fun! Saving the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm always up for more clams, these look delicious and Txakoli would be perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Amats Txakolina is always a winner and my book and I love your recipe. It looks like a great pairing!

    ReplyDelete

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