7.12.2014

An Angelic Susurration

"Susurrations" has long been one of my favorite words. Barely audible whispers. Just say the word a couple of times and you will understand susurrations. Such a beautiful word. The epitome of onomatopœia.

This is a story about a sussurating angel that recently came into our lives.

The first whisper came by text. "We sent you something, but you need to pick it up." How enigmatic!

The second came visually. Once in hand, its color merely murmured pink... with a gentle undertone of coral.

The third was aural. Released to the air, I could hear sotto voce confessions through carved mahogany screens and velvet curtains, ending with a perky pop.

And the taste? A warm breeze sliding through ocean-side grasses.

Whispering Angel - a wine by Sacha Lichine of Château d'Esclans - immediately became one of our favorite Provençal rosé wines, and this first bottle was a gift from Susan and Towny.

In one of Susan's posts for The Modern Trobadors, she did a tasting of rosés from the Château, and thought we might enjoy a bottle of Whispering Angel. She and Towny did some research, located a bottle in Tucson, purchased it, and told the proprietor that we would be in to pick it up. Mark picked it up that day, and the rest is history.

Before trying this wine, we knew it was special. Why else would our friends have gone to such trouble? (Aren't good friends incredible?) What would we make? It had to be Provençal; it had to be worthy.

Enter Mark Bittman (New York Times). He just happened to post a recipe for a Provençal seafood stew that day. Quelle coïncidence! It was a sign. And we always heed signs. We made the stew.

There are some times, rare ones at best, when the pairing of a food and wine transport you to a place. This seafood stew with the Whispering Angel rosé took us both back to a languorous day seaside at Les Calanques, just northeast of Marseille. It was a perfect day, and this was the perfect food and wine pairing to take us back to that time… to that place.

We loved Whispering Angel, and have since gone to the store to buy more. It is a great value for the price, though not the least expensive of rosé wines. You can go quite far up the rosé ladder with Château d'Esclans with Les Clans and Garrus. But we are quite happy with our susurrating angel.

Bon apetís! (Provençal dialect)

~ David

Provençal Seafood Stew
Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman

1 cup canned chickpeas

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons capers
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
large pinch piment d’Esplette or chile flakes
6 ounces spinach
2 cups fish or shrimp stock
5 ounces cod, sliced
8 ounces squid, roughly chopped
8 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
juice of 1/2 lemon


Drain and rinse the chickpeas.


Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bread crumbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they’re crisp and toasted, 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.


Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet; increase heat to medium-high. When oil is hot, add shallot, olives, capers and anchovies. Cook, stirring, until fragrant - a minute or two. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it darkens slightly – about 2 minutes.


Add the spinach, stirring until it starts to release its water; add the stock and chickpeas. When it returns to a gentle boil, stir in the cod, squid, and shrimp. Cook until the seafood is just cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the stew and stir a couple of times.


Divide among bowls, sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve.


Makes 4 servings.

38 comments:

  1. I love that we played a role in what looks like such a marvelous meal--perfect pairing! And so glad you liked one of our favorite rosés!
    I just visited Château d'Esclans where Sacha and his wife took us into the chapel where the whispering angels that inspired the name grace the wall behind the altar!

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    1. Susan - we only wish you and Towny could have been here to share it with us!

      Did you get a photo of the angels? How cool that you got to see them.

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    2. Yes, we took about 25 photos~ Watch for an upcoming Modern Trobador post!

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  2. Dear David, what a marvelous post - everything falls in place, it is all perfect, the recipe the rosé, the words, the story and the pictures - outstanding, dear friend outstanding and I just wish I could have enjoyed a taste of that incredibly delicious sounding (and looking) provencal seafood stew!
    Ich wünsche euch ein schönes Wochenende und sende ganz liebe Grüße,
    andrea

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    1. I wish you had been here, too, Andrea! It is always fun to share good food and wine with friends!

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  3. Well David your Provencal Seafood Stew looks and sounds fabulous! I see how it could transport you to a beautiful seaside town in France! I love everything about this post…lovely photos, nice story and a rosé I am dying to try! Happy weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I am so glad you enjoyed the post!

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  4. Wow! Wow! And wow! You have made me want to run to the store at midnight to go pick up a bottle of Whispering Angel, and make this dish, simultaneously! You know neither one is happening right now, but if I had a magic wand...

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    1. Reading food blogs near midnight is one of my most frustrating habits, Christina! It is so frustrating that everything is closed! Thank goodness for Amazon! At least I can order cookbooks at 1:00am!

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  5. Just like Christina's comment, I am saying wow, wow, wow. Beautiful words, delicious images, great recipe!

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  6. I know what I will be eating (and drinking) later this week. Just so you know, I have been recipe stalking you for weeks now, thanks for setting such a great summer menu! R

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    1. Thanks, Ruth - I love being stalked! We DO need to figure out a time to get together...

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  7. I'm drooling on my iPad and it's all your fault!

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  8. Wow, David! One of my favorite posts by you! You took us right along with you! And I am SO looking for that rose. I love French roses, and that one sounds particularly wonderful. And that stew - truly Provencal! Have a wonderful week! xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Susan! You should easily be able to find the rosé in your area. Let me know what you think!

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  9. Oww Damn David!!!
    all the best ingredients for the best seafood stew...

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    1. Thanks Dedy! You are the king of seafood, so this is quite a compliment!

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  10. Wow that is an amazing provencal stew, I could definitely eat a bowl of that now :) and what a beautiful name for a wine. I will have to see if they sell it in Australia.

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    1. This stew would be perfect winter fare for you all down under, Karen! Hearty and warm from the spices!

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  11. You know, I can actually taste this. Reading through that ingredients list, I can already taste the result. And it tastes divine.
    "A warm breeze sliding through ocean-side grasses" … what a gorgeously descriptive line. Somebody hand me a glass of rosé!

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    1. Very sweet, John - thanks! It does remind me of some of the stews you have made!

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  12. Hi David, Where to begin, first this stew looks amazing and after perusing the ingredient list I can tell that this is truly a magical dish. Thanks for introducing the word "susurrations" it's been playing in and out of my head since I've read it. Lovely, lovely post!!!!

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    1. You know, Cheri, susurrations is so rare that it doesn't even register with spell check! Makes me love it even more. Thank you so much for your kind comment!

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  13. Simple but sophisticated flavors suit these French style pink wines so sell. I can never find l'accent aigu on my keyboard so I am avoiding that other word. GREG

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    1. Well, at least you know it is l'accent aigu, Greg!

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  14. You know what? You just taught me a word David! I hadn't heard of susurration before but I do think that I'll be using it often now (I am a sucker for onomatopoeia!). Love this post. It's beautifully ethereal, in some ways... you have a way of relaxing me with your beautiful words and photography! Rosé is a wine that I'm newly discovering so I will definitely look out for the 'Whispering Angel'... if only to drink it with this beautiful, fragrant Provençal stew!

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    1. Isn't it a beautiful word, Laura? Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  15. Made it last night and it's excellent. My wife said it's as good as any seafood stew she's ever had in New Orleans. Personally, I don't think the bread crumbs add to the dish, but that's a minor point. I did make my own stock from the shrimp shells in less than an hour – shells, stalk of celery, couple bay leaves, few pepper corns, 1/2 t. vegetable stock paste, 1 t. crab boil, few springs of thyme & parsley, quart of water. Simmer for 45 min-1 hour and you have 2 cups fresh stock.

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    1. Marc - you bring up a good subject. I am amazed that people don't save their shrimp shells for making stock. I keep a resealable bag of shells (plus onion peels, celery and carrot ends, etc) in the freezer and make stock regularly using the frozen parts. I usually add some tomato paste in addition to the herbs you mention. I love the idea of the crab boil - I think it would be a great flavor enhancer. Glad you and your wife enjoyed the stew - quite the compliments from you both!

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  16. Wow! Beyond amazing. What a beautiful, delicious looking stew. I suppose susurration is a word I should've known, but I didn't -- and now I love it, too.

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    1. Thanks, Valentina! Someone just wrote to me that susurration is regaining popularity. I hope I have something to do with that!

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  17. What thoughtful friends you have... but I am sure that is not just a stroke of luck!

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    1. Thanks, Fiona - I am fortunate to have friends like this!

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  18. In spanish is a fairly used word. And I realize I love it too! Not the anchovies mind you... jaja

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    1. It would be wonderful with just the olives and onions, Paula! What is the word in Spanish?

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