On the Balearic Islands, the locals argue over who has the best caldereta. Minorcans claim that their blue spiny lobsters are unequaled in the dish, while the Majorcans claim their light red lobsters are better. Despite that, it is perfectly possible to make an excellent caldereta using American lobster.
There are two primary species of lobster: the American lobster (Homarus americanus) and the European lobster (Homarus gammarus). In Spain, the former, known as bogavante, is caught in the Bay of Biscay and is highly valued. But when the Spanish refer to the langosta, they are talking about the European lobster, which is pulled from the Mediterranean Sea, is quite spiny in appearance, and is known in English as spiny lobster or rock lobster.
Place the live lobsters in ice water for 1 hour. The lobsters need to be alive to make this dish sublime, but they should not suffer when we kill them. Putting them in the ice water will help numb them.
In a skillet, heat the 1/3 olive oil over high heat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Decrease the heat to medium, season with salt and the sugar, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Pass the mixtures through a food mill fitted with the medium plate held over a deep caldero or large saucepan. Pace on the stove top over the lowest heat setting possible. Keep an eye on the sauce, as you don't want it to scorch.
While the vegetables are cooking, remove the lobsters from the ice water and place them, belly down, on a cutting board. Working with 1 lobster at a time, and using a sharp knife, separate the head from the tail and remove the legs. Pull out and discard the insides, but reserve the liver (the greenish mass inside the head) and the roe if any (the reddish mass, also called the coral, found in females). Place the liver and roe in the refrigerator. Crack the legs open a bit with a small hammer, so that they will release more flavor when they ar broiled. If you are cooking American lobsters, reserve the claws, since they are very meaty, and cook them later with the tails.
In a small saucepan, combine the heads and legs with water to cover and bring to aboil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes to create a flavorful stock. Strain the stock and set aside.
Cut each tail crosswise into 4 pieces and add them and the claws, if using American lobsters, to the simmering tomato sauce. With a wooden spoon or spatula, turn the lobster, mixing it well with the tomato sauce. Add the reserved stock, which should just cover the lobster. Season with salt, increase the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
In a mortar, combine the garlic, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the lobster liver and roe. Pound with a pestle until a uniform paste forms. Add the paste to the lobster and tomato sauce, mix well and cook for 5 minutes longer to blend flavors.
To serve, spread each bread slice with 1 teaspoon alioli and place in the bottom of a soup plate. Ladle the lobster pieces and plenty of liquid on top. Place an empty dish for the shells in the center of the table.
Region: Rioja – Rating: 88 –‘round, rich and tactile’
COMPOSITION: 90% Viura, 10% Malvasia
TASTING NOTES: ‘Lovely echo of the traditional whites, with a waxy texture with marzipan and lemon curd flavors. A vivid spark of acidity keeps it lively. Drink now through 2007. -Wine Spectator.
‘Pale color. Apple and spicy oak on the nose. Round, rich and tactile but quite fresh, with palate-dusting flavors of lemon, apple and spices. Lingering finish throws off citrus and spice notes. This has the fruit intensity to support the barrel treatment. Excellent, very inexpensive white Rioja. 88 Points.’ -Steven Tanzer
Region: Ribera del Duero – Rating 91 – ‘Ripe fresh flavors’
COMPOSITION: 100% Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo)
TASTING NOTES: ‘Good deep red-ruby. Slightly reduced aromas of black raspberry, currant and tobacco. Dense but juicy, with an intriguing saline character and a rather sophisticated texture. This boasts lovely balance and depth of flavor, as well as considerable impact. Finishes with chewy, building tannins and excellent length. 91 Points.’ -Steven Tanzer
‘Ripe, fresh flavors of black cherries, plums and herbs are backed by coffee and chocolate from oak and big but well-integrated tannins in this well-knit red. Best from 2005 through 2009. 1,000 cases imported. 88 Points.’ -Wine Spectator
The wine was aged in 50% French and 50% American oak for 12 months.