Gastropod Gastronomy

Some time ago Bill and I were talking about abalone, wondering what all the fuss was about and why people would risk life and limb to harvest wild abalone. Why do people go out in search for this shellfish in spite of the frigid cold waters on the Northern California coast? And let's not even talk about the risk of becoming shark food. We also saw an episode of Bay Area Backroads where they talked about this delicacy. So we decided that one day we were going to try it.

This past Saturday, we went out to the coast to US Abalone and bought some farmed abalone. It was a bit of a surprise, because Bill refused to tell me where we were going, and I only realized his plan once we entered the driveway of the store/farm.

We got four medium-sized shellfish ($10 each) and had the salesclerk explain to us how to shuck the meat off the shells. Bill coooked 'em using a recipe he found online. We had pan-fried abalone with beurre blanc sauce, some steamed green beans, and lemon-parsley orzo. Verdict: YUM. It tasted a bit like clams, to be honest, but it was a lot better. The sauce was perfect with it. Even though the meal didn't look like much, we were full by the time we got done. Four medium-sized abalone is perfect for two people.

Along with the meal, we had a really nice bottle of McHenry pinot noir, 1980 vintage. (Yes, that's correct, 1980). We won it at a raffle from this year's Pinot Paradise. We were a bit apprehensive about the wine; we weren't sure how good (or bad) a 27-year-old pinot noir would be. It actually turned out to be very good. It still tasted fruity, wasn't too earthy, and was still quite alcohol-y. The only difference my untrained mouth could detect was that it had a little bit of a silky/oily mouthfeel.

Anyway, now I'm wondering if the wild stuff is really that much better...