Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Forty-Three: Flexing my Mussels

Tonight, I am out of town. More specifically, I'm in Walla Walla, Washington, on a wine-tasting trip with my hubby. It's Valentine's Day weekend, after all. Tonight we had dinner at the amazing, awesome, wonderful Brasserie 4. It's a French restaurant, so of course we had to order the pate, which in this case was made with chicken livers instead of goose. So that was thing-I-don't-like number one. The pate (which, to me, seemed like more of a mousse) had a bit of a sickly taste to it--perhaps owing partially to a bit of white wine in the recipe (this was not confirmed, only suspected). We had it on a wonderfully crusty French bread--my favorite combination was bread, grainy mustard, pate, and pickled red onion. There were also cornichons and golden delicious apple slices on the plate, and many combinations were tried.

For my main course, I ordered steak frites. Nothing I don't like there. Brasserie 4 has the most amazing fries I've ever had, and the steak was nothing short of impressive. But here's where I get adventurous--Ian ordered moules frites. Which is mussels. And guess what? I ate six of them. Six whole mussels, all by myself. I had expected them to be rubbery, fishy, gritty--similar to the clams I had in my clam chowder, but worse. I could not have been more wrong. While they were not the most aesthetically charming (Brasserie 4 has lovely low lighting--in more fluorescent light I might have had a harder time) they were tender, with no chewiness about them, and they had the faintest sweet breath of the sea. For a long time I didn't understand what people meant when they said fish shouldn't smell like fish, but like the ocean--I couldn't discern the difference. These mussels, however, had a very oceanic taste, and no fishiness at all. They had absorbed a good deal of the broth in which they were cooked, and had a salty, winey, herby taste to them. I'm surprised to say I enjoyed them. There was a point at which I asked my husband to stop heaping them onto my plate (he was trading them for slices of my steak) but a lot of that had to do with my ever-expanding stomach.

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