Homard Homage

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Lobster is a luscious, decadent food. From lobster rolls to lobster ravioli, the crustacean's rich flavor, meaty texture, and affinity for butter make it universally desirable. Unfortunately for us non-New Englanders, lobsters' high cost tends to keep them in the realm of the special occasion foods. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, though, and I'd venture to say that our lust for lobster is more intense than the Mainers', and our delight in devouring it much greater.

Wine country restaurants give the traditional lobster preparations a creative California twist, making the crustacean even more special, and even more compatible with the local wines.
Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar in Healdsburg jazzes up the classic lobster roll by tossing the meat in pure melted butter rather than mayonnaise, and adding thinly sliced fennel for an herbaceous, licorice crunch. It's drippingly delicious, and a beautiful match for many of the lovely white wines on their list, not just the buttery ones. Try it with Gewurztraminer, pinot gris, or albarino, as the mood strikes.

La Toque in Napa does a warm lobster salad of cubed sweet potato, frisee, and hunks of tender, perfect lobster mounded into a cylinder of epicurean bliss. The combination of earthy, sweet, herbaceous, and fresh will haunt you, especially if consumed with the suggested (and suggestive) Roussanne blend "Les Tournesols" from Pelerin in the Santa Lucia Highlands. During black truffle season (NOW!), they have been known to swirl a decadent sexy swirl of truffle bliss through the salad, taking it in an even sexier direction.

Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg only offers a few of their dinner menu items at the bar, but fortunately the delectable Thai-marinated lobster is one of them. And even more fortunately, Cyrus has shared the recipe with us all!  The pungent herbs, citrus, and fish sauce somehow both refresh and refine the sweet lobster flavor, making the familiar exotic and new. Cyrus pairs this dish with the Inman Family pinot gris, and you should too.

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