Shellfish Paella with Fregola Paired with La Cala Sella and Mosca Vermentino di Sargegna 2008

DSCN4468This recipe was a nightmare!
Don’t get me wrong, the taste was near perfection and I would challenge any chef to rival it. But as far as cost and preparation time goes? Nightmare! Any recipe with 21 ingredients is a recipe for a pain in the arse!
Ok now that I have that off my chest, on to the pairing…

I’ve been craving good Paella for a while now. I say that because good Paella isn’t easy to come by. I find that most restaurants either use too much tomato, seafood that isn’t fresh, or both. This particular recipe for Shellfish Paella with Fregola from Food and Wine calls for fresh mussels, littleneck clams, squid, shrimp and monkfish. The monkfish was the first small problem. 

“You know why people like Monkfish so much, right?” said the helpful lady at my local fish market. 
DSCN4443“Yes I do, it’s because…”
“It’s because it’s the poor man’s Lobster.”
she interjected.
“So that means you don’t have any?” I replied.
Correct.” she chriped
“Ok…I’ll take a lobster then.” I retorted, not wanting to look like a poor man.

My second problem in procuring ingredients continued at Publix. Fava beans are a very minor but essential ingredient to this dish, even though you don’t see them mentioned in too many recipes for Paella.
“Excuse me, do you know where the Fava beans are?” I asked the store associate at Publix.

He proceeded to give me a look as though I was asking for “dead kittens in a can”. DAMN THIS ENGLISH ACCENT!
What beans!?!?” he responded.
“Fava, F-A-V-A beans. You know, like Hannibal Lector eats.” I stated, whilst noting that the Silence of the Lambs reference completely slipped him by.
Anyway long story short, and after about 10 minutes and speaking to 3 different store associates, I managed to locate the hallowed Fava Beans.

Next the Fregola!
I am more than thankful that I have a friend who is actually from Sardinia, and when she was there last she actually brought me some back.
Fregola is just a type of pasta that originates from the small Southern Italian island. It is supposedly similar to Israeli couscous, and made from Semolina dough that is rolled into DSCN4457small balls. I can’t even imagine how hard it would have been to find Fregola locally! 

The wine pairing with this particular dish was exactly rocket-science, with Italian food great emphasis is always paid to pairing the cuisines with local wines.
I was quite surprised however that I managed to find a Sardinian Vermentino at World Market, and inexpensive too!
La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna was an absolute perfect pairing with this dish! Everything came together, it was the perfect balance. The fairly obscure Vermentino white grape is really only found in Italy, on the French island of Corsica and a little in DSCN4458Australia. Vermentino is traditionally a very good match with white fish and shellfish, and the La Cala by Sella & Mosca was no exception. The wine was very aromatic on the nose, showing green apple, pear, lemon, white flowers and a little almond. Great acidity and very refreshing! This is definitely a wine I would buy again, and is especially suited toward the summer.

One last thing, and I don’t think of myself as an amazing food photographer (although I think I am getting better), but seriously, how good does that last photo of the finished Seafood Paella look!?!?! If it doesn’t make you hungry there is something wrong with you!!!

I’ll rate this as an UltraPerfect Pairing


~ My Food & Wine Pairing Guide~

Bad MatchBad Match
The interaction of wine and food when tasted together has a negative impact on the senses. This is common when the food item is high in acidity, salt, bitterness, or spiciness.

Neutral MatchRefreshment
Many times wine serves simply as a satisfying refreshment to accompany a certain food choice. The refreshment match may be appropriate when the food severely inhibits a good or synergistic wine choice.

Refreshment MatchNeutral
These pairing situations are average and pleasant, but are missing an element of individuality and thus cannot provide a superior gastronomic experience.

Good MatchGood Match
In this situation, you have found a wine that matches the food item’s basic components (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) and overall body.  
Perfect MatchPerfect Match
This essentially means the combined effect of the wine and the food paired together is superior to the sum of the individual parts.

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