Sometimes the best thing about a dish is watching someone else experience it for the first time. Seeing that look of wonder across someone's face when they bit into something they know they're going to love. For example, I've always been a seafood junkie, but my husband is a recent convert, and watching him discover - and fall in love with - seafood has been an eye-opening experience that takes me back to the beginning of my oceanic culinary journey.
It's one of those experiences that led me to write this blog. My husband and I were married this past June and for our honeymoon, we took a road trip through Quebec and down into upstate New York (the Adirondacks rock!). While I loved every waking minute of that trip, two particular nights (or rather, meals) stand out for me: mussels and green salad at La Moulerie in Outremont, just outside of Montreal, and moules frites at Poisson D'Avril in historic old Quebec City. On both these nights, my beloved and I devoured whole bowls of steaming, fragrant mussels with a passion and vigor I normally reserve for really good chocolate cake or ice cream. There weren't enough baguettes in all of Quebec to help my hubby sop up the rich, aromatic broth that his beautiful black-shelled beauties were cooked in. It was wonderful to watch him enjoy a dish that I have loved for years.
Of all the places I've eaten mussels over the years, the house special at Poisson D'Avril was simply one of the best. Below is my take on their classic recipe.
Mussels in white wine with herbs
2/3 cup chopped white or red onions
3 pounds mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
2 cups dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter
In a large wide pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and cook until translucent; about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add mussels, white wine and bay leaves. Cover and steam mussels until they open, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer mussels itno a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Discard bay leaves. Pour liquid into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add butter and parsley and stir until butter is dissolved. Pour sauce over mussels and serve immediately with crusty bread and a lemon wedge.
Green salad with Dijon vinaigrette
(makes 2 cups)
1 1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of salt
In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Drizzle over pieces of bib lettuce. Dressing will keep for 1 week in refrigerator.
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