I started thinking about it as I was walking through the organic market Marché Bio of Boulevard des Battignolles in the 17th arrondissment in Paris: I wanted to make a bulots sandwich. The more I thought about it, the hungrier I got.
I’d never had one before.
I had some bulots in the fridge left over from a tasting I had done the day before, serving only a slight derivation from tradition. In France, when you order bulots, especially in a brasserie or fish restaurant, they are usually served cold, in their shell with mayonnaise. I like to add a little tarragon (or even basil) to spice it up. I had served it with a 2007 Sauvignon de Touraine Oneiros from Domaine Sauvète. This was for some friends as an aperitif.
Bulots are apparently known as whelk in American, although I have never had them outside of Europe. They are like sea snails. But apart from their appearance, they don’t really resemble land snails. Snails are very distinctly earthy, almost dried leafy, dark meat beasts. Bulots are more like white meat and they are very sea-sigatured, from salt but also somewhat like a certain clam flavors but a little less ‘fishy’.
So in my dreams, a bulot sandwich would be sort of like a glorified chicken sandwich. Perfect for summer. On baguette bread, I spread a thin film of mayonnaise. Then I put some rocket leaves and a ripe summer tomato. A little bit of pepper, but go easy on the salt, the bulots tend to retain some of their sea salt so there is usually no need to add any. After removing the bulots from their shell, detaching the sticker-like cartilage that is at the top of the bulot and I rinse them thoroughly to remove any sand or shell. Then I toss them with some mayonnaise and place them on the top of my sandwich. And to top everything off, a generous sprig of tarragon (or basil).
The taste result corresponded rather accurately to my dream of this sandwich. The salty meatiness of the bulots creamed up with a little mayo, tomato for freshness and tarragon, rocket and pepper for spice. The only thing I’d recommend is to make these bite sized. The bulots start falling all over the place if you have anything bigger than a bite making it difficult to eat.
I think the sauvignon from Sauvète would go well here too, even if by adding tomato and rocket we have brought more bitterness into the equation. Maybe light red like a Beaujolais or a Gamay from the Loire. Even a mineral rosé from Sancerre would be great, amplifying the summer feel of this sandwich.