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I have found that ideas for new and delicious food is ever-present if only I keep my eyes open, and dive into conversations about food with other people who enjoy food as well.
Such a discovery occurred during my taxi ride to Charles de Gaulle airport this past summer as I readied myself to return to the states after enjoying a month’s worth of French food.
My Tunisian-born taxi driver, who shared with me he was a former football player for the Marseilles team, engaged with me about the recent World Cup victory for France as well as shared the most mouth-watering monologue about food as he shuttled me (and my ever-growing luggage) from my hotel, to Poilâne (to pick up my sourdough round and a croissant) and finally to the airport.
Speaking far better English than I spoke French, he shared with me his favorite recipe to cook for his family in Paris – Moules et Frites. His unabashed enthusiasm made me eager to try the dish at home as soon as I could find mussels here in Oregon. (This was not to be a successful pursuit for five months as the local seafood purveyors in Bend weren’t buying mussels due to an issue with their suppliers.)
As he spoke, I wrote in my mind’s eye the recipe, as to not forget it when I was situated in the airport and could write it in my journal.
Needless to say, I smile each time I remember the short, but convivial conversation with Wifak, whom I would not consider a stranger anymore after our conversation about food, families and France.
As you might have guessed, yes, I did write his recipe down, and when the mussels were finally spotted in Newport Market this past Friday, I knew exactly what I would be having for dinner to celebrate the annual decorating of my cottage for the holidays and putting up my tree – Moules Mariniére!
Per his instructions, it’s all about the butter (not olive oil – no, no, no). Butter!! So be sure to choose quality butter and of course white wine you would want to drink as these two ingredients will make up your broth in which the moules are given their flavor and the bread is dipped as well.
Now, I did not pair my moules with Frites (fries) this go-round, but I certainly look forward to doing so in the future for the ultimate comfort dish.
~A Note About Moules (Mussels) selection per advice from my Fish Monger:
- After purchasing them in the store, return home as quickly as you can and remove them from the plastic bag they will most likely be in to keep them fresh. Then, quickly . . .
- Place them in a strainer and run cold water over them for about 30 seconds to a minute. If after running water over them, a mussel does not close, toss it.
- Finally, place your mussels in a bowl, place a papertowel over them and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
Moules Mariniére: A Simple French Seafood Classic
- 20-25 mussels (moules) cleaned and closed
- 1 medium shallot finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted quality butter 82% butterfat or higher
- 1/2 cup white wine what you enjoy drinking
- coarse sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley chopped
- fresh artisan crusty bread as many slices or torn pieces as you want
- In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, then immediately add the moules (mussels). Cover and cook over medium heat (5-6, on a 10 dial) for 5 minutes (do not peek - unless you have a clear cover).
- After 5 minutes, remove the lid, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Then pour in the wine. Cook to reduce slightly - about 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat.
- Finish with flat leaf parsley, pair with fresh bread and enjoy warm.