26 September 2009

Mussels, mussels, mussels

Properly cooked mussels + a bread-dip worthy broth + a side of crispy frites + fresh aoili = bliss for me.

That's just one of the many equations to my heart. Boys, take notes.

My love affair with mussels began back in Caen, France in 2006 on the coast. Entertain me for a minute while I have a flashback.

First things first ... blogosphere, meet my (Italian) sister-friend, Sab (and a curlier, more ginger looking me).

It was my first trip abroad with my best friend, Sab. We headed off with one of her cousins to go join forces with her other family members in Paris. Zal and Rina, former Rochestarians, had relocated to Florence, Versailles and then settled in Paris, where they were based in 2006. They had met and fell in love while at university in Caen, where we had traveled to see some of their friends, visit Mont St. Michel, and have an epic seafood dinner on the coast as the sun set.

It was one of the most memorable sunsets I've ever seen. Luckily Adriano caught it on camera ...

Sab and I both ordered the pot of mussels, faced with over a pound for each of us. Looking back, we should have shared ... but what can you do. Sometimes a mussel overdose after a long day at the beach is needed.

They were out of this world, and the first time I'd had mussels. My aunt had tried to get me to taste some seafood growing up, but it wasn't anything we were ever served at home outside of a fish fry in Lent (to which, to this day, I'm not sure was fish). My mother detested most forms of seafood, and the look of disgust she made when oysters went by to another table stuck in my head. I had a phobia for all things from the sea. I admit it.

But I fell in love with these little things, to the point that they now represent the best pick me up for me now. As they did back this past July ...

I was stressed ... and my colleague knew it, outside of my general frustration voiced for not being able to find good mussels at the store. Lo and behold, just before the day closed, he snuck off to his house and came back with mussels on ice and beer to steam ... my own little mussels kit. And I have to say, it was *just* what I needed to cut through the stress and bad mood. Thanks TN :)

The broth I made was basic, including beer, some sprigs of thyme, a splash of wine and a pat of butter. I added the butter to the broth afterwards. Odd combo, I know, but I was experimenting. Delicious nevertheless ... now if only I had frites and aioli. Next time, next time ...

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