Summer is in full swing. That and coastal living makes me say “hello seafood.” My rule with cooking seafood is the simpler, the better; as well as believing in keeping it as local as possible. So when traveling to locations known for seafood, I take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy eating fresh and local. Recently, I had Bantry’s mussels & oysters in Ireland - yes, they live up to their reputation. You may be able to find Bantry mussels in your grocer’s freezer along with New Zealand; but to me it's not my preference compared to eating local. Some other leading mussel cultivars are Spain, and of course North America's Prince Edward Island in Canada.
The classical way I learned to cook mussels years ago is called Moules Marinières, or mussels in the style of the sea, synonymous with summers in France. I have prepared versions of this style on air with my TV shows. This happens to be a crowd favorite every time with my TV crew. They are amazed at how simple it is to prepare. See for yourself, TV segment here. The only way to improve this recipe is add some crisp Pommes Frites. I would also approval of a creamy Belgium beer to wash it all down with.
Here’s a good tip: The jewel in eating mussels is to get the right balance of the mussel meat with the fantastic broth juices that come from cooking the mussels with wine, garlic and herbs. No utensils needed, use the mussel's shell as your spoon. Pick up the freshly steamed mussel in the opened hinged ‘valve’ (the shell). Break the valve in-half, discard one half of the shell. With the second half valve (shell) that now has the mussel meat, dip the half-shell and mussel meat into the warm broth scooping up just the right amount of juice to meat. Now, politely slurp the mussel along with the broth in the same mouthful. Mouth watering. Heaven! Sometimes I see others do a dip using a fork, but they are missing the gold, the broth!
Try this next time you prepare mussels, instead of using a fork and dipping into the broth that will just slide off your mussel meat. What to do with empty shells? I have observed other connoisseurs of mussel eating that includes arranging the eaten empty half valves into unique patterns on plates.
Simple and ready in minutes. But do yourself a favor, have plenty of good bread on hand to dip and soak up any leftover broth. Summer - here we come!