By Robert Haas
I got to do dinner for two last night because my wife, Barbara, had a 6 o’clock meeting to attend. I had planned on diver scallops from our excellent local fish market, Pier 46 Seafood in Templeton. As I was walking out of the winery to my car I saw walking in Chris Couture, the vineyard manager at Chequera Vineyard where we get much of our Syrah for Patelin de Tablas. He was carrying a box of fresh asparagus from his organic farm picked that morning. He kindly offered me two bunches. What good timing! I had been on my way to shop for veggies. Now I could head straight to Pier 46 for my scallops. I bought three quarters of a pound (8) of the big diver scallops.
The menu was to be sautéed scallops and simmered asparagus with a chopped hard-boiled egg vinaigrette dressing. One of the great things about the menu was very little prep and very short cooking times: 15 minutes to hard-boil and chop the 2 eggs, and shave and trim the asparagus and make the vinaigrette. Add about three minutes to chop a teaspoon of tarragon while simmering the asparagus and a total of about five minutes sautéing the scallops.
- Heat the pan over medium heat and then add about two tablespoons of butter to melt.
- Add the scallops and sauté, half at a time, about three or four minutes each lot. Don’t overcook!
- When each lot is done, transfer it to a bowl.
- After transferring the second lot to the bowl, add to the pan the chopped tarragon, the juice of one lemon and the scallops.
- Cook just until everything is hot, turning the scallops to coat them in the glazed pan juices.
- Boil two eggs for 14 minutes until hard boiled, then cool and chop.
- Make a vinaigrette by dissolving a generous pinch of sea salt into a teaspoon of good white wine vinegar, then stirring in a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Add 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, then whisk to combine. Add fresh-ground black pepper to taste.
- Trim the ends of the asparagus and shave the skin off the bottom portion of any thicker stems.
- Simmer the asparagus in boiling water until tender but not mushy, 2-3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Arrange the asparagus on a plate, then top with the chopped egg and the vinaigrette.
We drank a Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2007 with the meal and I was reminded what a muscular vintage it was: rich and flavorful without being alcoholic or heavy. Our tasting notes from a review tasting last year were:
“Rich and powerful, with an explosive nose of ginger and honey, rose petals, and licorice stick. In the mouth it's thick and broad, lifted nicely at the end by a herby white tea note. A really long finish, the longest of any of the wines that we tasted [in our review tasting of 10 vintages].”
And that is exactly the way it tasted last night: almost four years in the bottle and still young and vibrant. It was terrific with the buttery scallops and even handled itself well with the asparagus with its egg vinaigrette.