New Orleans chefs often drown seafood in rich, spicy sauces, but here, chef Jason McCullar of Cure simply dresses sweet crabmeat (a Louisiana staple) in lemon-scented aioli. The crab salad is wonderful piled on hot dog buns like a New England lobster roll or arranged delicately on small rolls as hors d'oeuvres.
Pairing: A lightly oaked California Chardonnay like the 2008 Paul Dolan or 2007 Molnar Family Poseidon's Vineyard
At Mesa Grill in New York City, Bobby Flay presents his sweet-spicy salmon with three different sauces, including tomatillo salsa, black bean sauce and jalapeño crema (a play on Mexican sour cream). In the easy way, omit the crema and serve the salmon with sour cream instead.
Pairing: A spicy, cherry-scented Pinot Noir like the 2007 Fleur de California Carneros
These ribs are named after Spanish snacks known as pinchos. Jason McCullar rubs them with a smoked-paprika spice blend, then lacquers them with a sherry-spiked glaze. For an ideal cocktail snack, look for riblets, a half portion of baby back ribs; they're especially meaty. Or ask your butcher to split your rib racks crosswise.
Pairing: A Monastrell like the 2007 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil or 2008 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya