A lot of foodbloggers are attempting to do a better job of eating fresh foods and leftovers before they go bad, getting to the frozen Ziploc containers before the contents become unidentifiable, and deliberately reaching into the back of the pantry to clean out those old cans, boxes, and bags. For instance, I recently had a late night snack made from two gifts that had been rattling around for far too long: TUC paprika crackers from Germany and a tin of sardines in mustard sauce. Sardines are kind of trendy these days (pretty healthy, lower in mercury than tuna, etc.), and mashed up with the mustard sauce in the tin the spread was great on the spicy, salty, buttery crackers that taste like Ritz plus paprika. Granted, you don't often encounter a spinal column wrapped in fish skin sticking out of your cracker spread, but hey, it's a good source of calcium.
In a similar desire to knock out some old stuff, I grabbed another fistful of angel hair pasta (why do I have so much of this?) and a can of minced clams. I figured it was a good excuse to make a simple spaghetti alla vongole. Yes, I could have read my Marcella Hazan books, translated a recipe from La Cucina Italiana, or even utilized Gwenyth Paltrow's recipe because when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine, you really want to trust a Hollywood actress who isn't Italian. But I mostly freestyled it with fresh garlic, red pepper flakes (also from the pantry!) and a good bit of olive oil.
The end result was good, but obviously fresh clams would make for a better and more attractive dish. I don't mind cleaning and tending to live clams for a day or two, but for some reason I have a hard time convincing my friends that they're worth eating. Also, next time I'll use regular spaghetti or linguine; angel hair just makes a mess here.
Anyway, I paired this dish with the 2007 Wine by Joe Pinot Gris from Oregon, $14, 13.5% abv. Light pear aroma with floral notes, smooth and round with a rich pear flavor. Dry but surprisingly fruit-forward and medium-bodied, with a short finish and low acidity. I might have been a little aggressive with the garlic and red pepper flakes, but this wine held up admirably. A few years ago after trying a few dozen Pinot Grigios I got tired of the whole style, thinking of it as boring and flavorless. But recent experience with amazing Pinot Gris from the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand is leading me to reconsider this grape. It doesn't have to be watery and thin, it can be rich yet delicate and have a lot of character.
Tip of the hat here to Joe from Suburban Wino. He didn't recommend it, but with a name like "Wine by Joe" I had to mention him. Joe has suggested some great blogs for WITS and has been helpful in promoting this blog via Twitter and Facebook. Thanks Joe, and I hope you get to try this wine at some point.