- they served the best mussels in the world and she would treat herself to that meal once a month - all by her lonesome - sitting in the back - slurping to her heart's content
- this is why she lived in New York City and she would never leave her beloved hometown
Things change. And that's good. For if I didn't leave New York City, I never would have met Paul. We never would have had Matthew and Kirsten and acquired an array of pets rescued from shelters. I play that game often, "If I didn't leave New York...." or "if I didn't take that job I hated... " (where I met Paul). The roads that bisect, twist and turn constitute a life. And it's a better game than regret: "If only I did .... this... instead."
And the joy of mussels - aside from the slurp, chattering shells and the briney taste of the mussel meat surrounded by the velvet broth of herbs, wine and butter (I do go on) - is you can create it at home. You don't need to go to NYC to find the restaurant that is likely no more. You can create your own life-altering experience in the kitchen. Which I know must of you do on a regular basis.
And things have changed. The 20-something young woman has aged and the buttery broth is created with vegan butter (Earth Balance). The mussels were sacrificed but the flavor wasn't.
The wine and herbs give a nod to Italy. And the vegan butter - is a sweet nod to France (although the French may shudder at the notion of vegan butter). Perhaps this mussel recipe is served right on the border between France and Italy. Border guards smacking their lips with mussels while arguing which country produces the tenderest mussels. A fun thought.
The Broth: (for 2 pounds of mussels which in my home - served 2!)
- 2 tablespoons virgin or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh parlsey and thyme - the French love tarragon in this or 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- 2 cups dry white wine (I used an inexpensive but not overly cheap Pinot Bianco)*
- 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
2 pounds - scrubbed and debearded. You want them tightly closed. Discard any that are cracked or open. If they're just a wee bit open - tap them lightly with your finger. They should close and if they don't - discard them.
Can you see them just chattering? Really, it could make for a spooky dinner on Halloween.
- In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive. When hot - but not sizzling, saute onions and shallots until soft and translucent (5-6 minutes).
- Add garlic. Saute 30 seconds.
- Add wine and bring to a simmer. Swirl in butter. Whisk till all is combined and melted and velvety rich.
- Add herbs and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Add mussels. Stril until all are mixed in the broth. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes - until all are wide-mouthed and opened.
- Discard mussels that don't open. Ladle mussels into bowl and pour the broth over them. Serve.
And the bread - did I mention the bread?