Wine and caviar – Cortez style
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE
Seth Cripe has a business making Cortez
mullet roe caviar and California wine.
CORTEZ – A former Anna Maria Island resident has gone bicoastal, pairing bottarga from Cortez with Lola from Napa Valley for a successful business recipe.
Bottarga is mullet roe caught locally, then pressed and dried with sea salt. It's also known as poutargue in France, karasumi in Japan and Taiwan and avgotaraho in Greece.
Lola is Pinot Noir wine, invented and introduced to the world in 2008 by Seth Cripe, who is also in the bottarga business.
Cortez Mullet Co. (http://cortezbottarga.com) was founded in 2007 by a group of local fishermen who wanted to preserve their way of life, according to Cripe.
While local fishermen have long caught mullet, they often didn't reap the $150 to $300 a pound the golden roe, or eggs, can bring, he said, adding that his business shifts more of the wealth into fishermen's hands.
Fishermen are still hauling in late-season mullet fat with eggs (the season begins in November).
The resulting bottarga will be sold to restaurants in California, where Cripe and his business partner, Charlotte Wagner, own a winery, Lola Wines, named for his rescue dog.
Bottarga also is available on the Island at the Beach Bistro, at Central Café, 906 Manatee Ave. E. in Bradenton (on pizza), and at a few Sarasota restaurants, including Michael's on East and Derek's, Cripe said, adding that Lola also is available at the Beach Bistro.
The products also are sold at restaurants and stores in New York, Chicago and elsewhere, said Cripe, who spent several years working at Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley before becoming a winemaker.
Bottarga has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" as a complement to Sardinian pasta with garlic and olive oil.