August 23, 2007

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Lobster goes red
Even a seven-foot lobster goes well with rosé
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

There’s a new trend in business I like to call “forced camaraderie.”

It entails taking a group of people who work together and putting them through a shared mission or social event or challenge to turn them into a fine-tuned high-performance machine. My more cynical colleague claims all that leadership development bunk is just so the ruling class can identify and neutralize the undeveloped leaders before they become a threat. And really, you already spend 40+ hours a week with these people. Who wants to socialize?

I was having lunch at a forced camaraderie seminar. My table mates were a mixed bunch. One woman wore an outfit I haven’t seen since I rented The Grapes of Wrath. Edison looked like he stepped out of a Geico commercial and Madeleine just gushed over the Danish pastry.

“It’s got strawberries and cream cheese all in one! Isn’t that decadent?”

Richard told me I looked hung-over. Susanne had appointed herself group ruler and kept telling us to pay attention and seemed to have a huge paranoia about “taking it seriously.”

“But what if They want us to present! We have to be prepared,” she whined.

She finally stopped nagging after Richard said she looked bloated. The only one I didn’t want to give a tube of Chinese toothpaste to was Erin. She barely talked.

That came in handy when we had to pair up and interview each other. The answers would be succinct, like, “I like dogs.”

She did like dogs but she also liked movies and had seen three or four a week for the last five years. She and her husband would rent movies, go out to movies. They’d been to Sundance. Found Montgomery Clift’s star on the Walk of Fame.

“What did you see last night?” I asked.

“Hairspray” she answered.

We got to talking and I found out she was a big John Waters fan. Soon we were laughing about not only the remake but the original and even his earlier campy, filthy work. We both agreed that Multiple Maniacs was both the apogee and nadir of middle-20th-century cinema.

On the way home I couldn’t stop thinking about how funny and what a train wreck that nasty little film was. Especially at the end when for no reason a seven-foot-tall lobster viciously assaults the main character. For those unfamiliar with John Waters: most of the female leads were played by a 260-pound transvestite named Divine. He originated the Edna Turnblad role that John Travolta’s now doing in the musical version of Hairspray. And it was she who got clawed by Lobstora, the crazed crustacean. Signs pointed to plenty of butter, a bib and lobster for dinner.

Pairing wine with lobster has traditionally meant a medium-ly acidic white like sauvignon blanc or a crisp chardonnay, a champagne or sparkling wine. Today’s adventurous wine drinker includes Beaujolais, a Rosso di Montepulciano, Sauternes, ice wines, Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, a fruity Burgundy or pinot noir, light to medium-bodied zinfandels, any Bordeaux that’s under 60 percent cabernet sauvignon, like a St. Emilion or Pomerol, a rosé, a big and layered shiraz and strawberry wine coolers.

And since I like lists and it’s often the only part of the wine column I read here’s a list of wines that go with lobster.

Brundelmeyer Gruner Veltliner ($20-something) A crisp, floral Austrian white that brings out the sweet succulent meat of the Atlantic lobster, the ocean’s equivalent of the Manhattan cockroach.

Liberty School Central Coast Chardonnay ($14.99) This chardonnay is like one of those surveys — very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, very dissatisfied. You decide where it fits. Good with boiled, broiled grilled or a traditional lobster roll (just meat and butter, no mayo).

Sebastiani Sonoma Chardonnay ($10.99) This one’s a little metallic so only serve this with lobster bisque, Lobster Thermidor and the New Jersey-style lobster roll with mayo, celery and lemon.

Acustic Vinyes Velles Nobles ($56) From Monsant Spain. Yummy and fruity. You’ll enjoy it so much you’ll chase the toddler around with the lobster shell. A structured red with cinnamon and strawberry and velvety tannins.

Gaston Huet Clos du Bourg Vouvray ($43.21) A slightly sweet white that goes so well with lobster that if you tie a line to the empty bottle and dump it overboard it’ll come back full of lobsters lured in by the bouquet.

Va La Vineyards La Prima Donna ($26.99) From Pennsylvania. A slightly rustic, rollicking wine with a mix of hearty cold-weather European grapes and enough backbone to complete the yin and yang of wine and lobster.

Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Premier Cru Teurons ($48.79) Elegant, ethereal pinot noir from Burgundy. Red fruit, structure and a kiss of spice. One sip and the lobsters will float rapturously into the pot like that cartoon dog that swoons over a dog biscuit.

Bodegas Muga Rioja Prado Enea Gran Reserva ($44.99) Big, bold and Spanish. This one’s good because you can use it as a cocktail wine and it’ll pair well with lobster and even dessert.

Beckett’s Flat Shiraz ($16.49) Bold and rich with a luxurious feel on the tongue and a great finish. Best with baked stuffed lobster but good with boiled. DO NOT make shrimp on the Barbie jokes or it’ll turn on you like a caged great white.