Man has long understood the mystical qualities of matching the flesh of the land with the flesh of the sea – the sweet lightness of seafood lifting up the heavy, eath bound produce. Apparently the Surf and Turf term, used to descrive these pairings, was coined in the early 60s on the North Atlantic American coast and it’s now a staple of restaurants the world over.
For an easy, cheap version of the classic surf and turf try this Clam, Fennel and Pancetta pasta. It's sweet, floral and has a great mouth feel - plus, who doesn't love getting stuck right in to a dish? As you’re not cooking the wine for long, use a wine you would be happy to drink – I always use a glass of the bottle I’m going to drink with this meal. I find the best whites with this dish are:
Riesling 2010 by Ant Moore – This bottle not only looks stunning, but tastes stunning too. The minerality and the zesty lemon notes in this wine cut through the dish and help balance out the sweetness of the clams/pancetta/fennel.
Pinot Grigio 2011 Ancora – This light, crisp wine cuts through the sweetness of the dish whilst not overpowering, whilst he floral notes marry brilliantly with the fennel.
Pouilly Fume La Renardiere 2009 - A strong wine with a very crisp 'gun flint' taste that cuts through the dish. Pretty lively so will perk everything up!
Timings are imperative in this meal, you don’t want your pasta sitting around for too long – so make sure you put the clams in to the pot when there’s about five minutes left for the pasta. You can always make the pancetta/onion/fennel/garlic mix first, take it off the heat, cook the pasta for five minutes and then start step 6 if you find it easier.
Sommeliers choice for this recipe:
Gavi la Battistina
Aromatic, zesty nose with apple, lime and kiwi notes and a hint of minerality. Juicy, weighty fruit with a zippy, citric acid mouthwatering feel creating a refreshing, satisfying finish.
Cortese di Piemonte Araldica
Fresh, primary fruit aromas of ripe grapefruit and lime; zingy, juicy and crisp with citrus flavours and mineral touches, it finishes with gently zesty acidity. Simple fish dishes, grilled goats cheese and red pepper with fresh basil.
Vermentino di Sardegna
This wine has a floral nose with a hint of apple, crisp acidity and citrus notes. Medium-bodied on the palate with a touch of spice. Delicious with fish and seafood.
Verdejo Castillo de Tomas
Clear straw-yellow in colour. Very expressive on the nose with aromas of gooseberry, apples and white stone fruits. Impressively rich, with good acidity and fine balance on the palate.
Image from shutterstock
500g clams – you can get these from any good fishmonger
1 small onion – diced fine
2 cloves garlic – sliced fine
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 glass of white wine – use a wine you are happy drinking
Salt and black pepper