“A song played on a solo saxophone…A crazy sound…A lonely sound…A cry that tells us love goes on and on…” The sound of sweet jazz was echoing in my ears when I visited New Orleans with my father on our first Christmas after my Mom’s passing. The city of New Orleans thankfully comforted us. We enjoyed walking around the charming French Quarter, listening to jazz and tasting delicious Creole and Cajun foods. New Orleans is a beautiful city with wonderful cuisine that blends its French, African, Caribbean, Spanish and Italian influences. It is also resilient. Just like it recovered from Hurricane Katrina, I recovered from the loss of my Mom. Today I am making Shrimp Creole, one of my favorite comfort foods. I discovered it in New Orleans, and I’m hoping it will heat up the cold & foggy San Francisco Summer weather and bring back soothing memories of Louisiana.
To start, I first heat 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil and stir in 1 cup of flour and 1 Tablespoon sea salt over medium heat for 10 minutes to make a roux. Then I add 4 lbs shelled raw shrimp and coat them with the roux. In a separate pot, I heat some extra virgin olive oil and sauté 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 green bell pepper (diced) & 2 lbs fresh tomato (chopped). Then I add ½ cup dry white wine, ½ cup water, 1 bay leaf, some freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne, ½ cup fresh parsley (chopped), 2 cups green onions (chopped), 1/3 cup hot sauce & 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce to the mixture and simmer for 30 minutes. Next, I pour the sauce over the roux-coated shrimp and stir everything together for 5 minutes. Finally, I serve over white rice and top it with some chopped green onions & Tabasco sauce (and whatever else you do, don’t forget the Tabasco sauce!).
I am pairing my shrimp creole with a 2010 Roccamena Toscana Bianco from Tuscany, Italy. Tuscany is best known for its red Sangiovese varietal, but white grapes are also widely grown in the region. The common white varietals include Trebbiano, Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat & Chardonnay. This medium-bodied, blended Tuscan dry white wine has green apple, lime & grapefruit peel flavors with a hint of spices. The moderate weight of the wine stands up well against the weight of the creole sauce. Its refreshing nature also cleanses the palette, while bringing out the mildly sweet, tangy & spicy flavors of the shrimp creole. My favorite part of this pairing is how well this wine takes the heat of the shrimp creole! It is a feisty happy couple!
For fellow San Franciscans, try this recipe and pairing when you want to feel heated up on a cold summer night. For everyone else in hot, humid weather, this recipe may also help cool off. You know how refreshing you feel after sweating off in a sauna? You’ll feel the same way with the heat of this delicious dish and a sip of refreshing Toscana bianco. Enjoy!