This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these crustaceans, also known as Menippe Mercenaria (Menippe = Greek, meaning force or courage and Mercenaria = Latin meaning something of value).
Unlike most other crabs including Maine’s Peekytoe, Chesapeake Blue, or the Pacific Dungeoness, only the claws of the stone crab are harvested and the crabs are not killed during the process. These crabs are captured in baited traps and only one claw per crab can be taken so it can still defend itself against predators. The claws make up about half the weight of the entire crab and once harvested, the pricey appendages are classified and priced according to weight – Colossal size claws can weigh up to 25 ounces or more! Once harvested, the crab is returned to the water where the claw will regenerate in approximately 12-24 months.
The stone crab gets its name from their extremely hard shells and the claws must be cracked prior to eating – an art form in and of itself! Stone crabs have a delicious, sweet flavor and their texture is somewhere between the delicacy of crab and the decadence of lobster. They are traditionally served with a mustard sauce which complements the delicious meat although many prefer to eat them plain with nothing at all. Many establishments are know for their mustard sauce and there’s some debate as to which type of sauce is the best. Some folks lean towards a spicy mustard sauce (like us!) while others tend towards sweet with the addition of some honey. Which type of mustard sauce do you prefer if any at all?
Wine pairing suggestions: In order to complement the texture and flavor of the crab as well as the tanginess of the mustard sauce, opt for wines with notes of citrus and stone fruit with a racy, cleansing acidity. Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and unoaked Chardonnay are wonderful choices to pair with Florida Stone Crabs. Here are our recommendations available at The Wine Atelier:
1.) Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur, Champagne, France, NV ($44) – a light, fresh style of Champagne which will complement the texture of the crab meat beautifully!
2.) Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, California ($20) – notes of juicy citrus and white flowers characterize this California beauty!
3.) Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino, IGT Toscana, Italy, 2013 ($20) – light and bright with notes of green apple, apricot & grapefruit with a racy acidity!
4.) Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, Burgundy, France, 2012 ($25) – Notes of apple, citrus, and white peach characterize this mouth watering Chardonnay!