Noix de Saint Jacques = very buttery scallop?
On a trek to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for (what else) wine tasting, we had a conversation with a winemaker (see below for convo transcript) that led to a curiosity about noix de Saint Jacques, which are a shellfish similar in size and color to scallops, but richer, silkier, and more buttery.
We’d never tasted much less heard of them, so imagine our excitement when directly after that conversation, our restaurant choice offered them on the menu. Naturally, we ordered them and the legends are true - they almost literally melt in your mouth. Whether or not I like them better than scallops…that’s hard to say, as at the preparation at the restaurant had a lot going on, including this semi-sweet butter on top that didn’t do it for me, but they were very decadent and I look forward to being able to try them again - this time maybe with a nice sear on the edges and some lemon to or other acid to compliment the butteriness.
Here’s more or less the conversation - just imagine him speaking eloquent French and our trying to understand and respond in a way so that we didn’t say anything too ridiculous.
(sips white wine) “I like. It is good.” - us
"Yes, this white is from a very particular region with excellent terroir. It’s robust delicacy is perfectly balanced by the sharp undertones." - him
(laughter) “Yes, good.” - us
"The very best way to consume this particular wine is paired with noix de Saint Jacques while watching a sunset - it’s superb.” - him
"Ah, yes! The wine is good." - us
"Are you familiar with noix de Saint Jacques?" - him
(hesitant laughter) “What?” - us
"It’s a scalloped shell with a delicate luscious round shellfish inside that has a spot of orange on the side." - him
"Shellfish? Scallop? Yes, good with wine." - us (food words are easier)
(shakes head, then hand gestures to describe what he’s talking about, points to orange thing) “No, better. Like a silky piece of fish in a big shell with orange on the side. You must try them, especially with this wine.” - him
"Ahhh! Abalone maybe? Pretty outside? Where you should…?" (hand gestures to demonstrate pounding) - me
(aghast and horrified look) “Don’t ever do that”. - him
(uncomfortable laughter) - us
Needless to say, we wanted to try it and were happy we did.