Monday, February 27, 2012

Mussels Ed's Style

You can infer from the slow trickle of recent posts that things have been busy at the restaurant. And they have been. The week before Valentine's Day was one of intense prep for VDay, followed by the insanity of VDay itself. The Saturday after was my 50th birthday and Ann arranged for dozens of my friends to have dinner with us at the restaurant and so for my birthday, on top of already being exhausted, I cooked my ass off. Thanks honey!

I had a hell of a blast seeing friends again and it was all worth the exhaustion, but in the days after, I have been a zombie. Although I had planned to cook myself a birthday meal (I didn't actually eat on my birthday; there was no time) on Sunday, I was too beat to contemplate cooking and Ann was (what's the polite phrase for hungover?) not in the mood for wine. So, my birthday meal for me was postponed to Monday and no harm in that.

The first order of business was to find a red wine to go with my mussels. High acid, medium to light body, definitely. High acid says Italy. Medium to light body says Nebbiolo or Sangiovese. I'm in a Nebbiolo mood. It's my birthday celebration: no Langhe Rosso or Carema for us; we're going for Barolo! So we cracked a bottle of Vietti's baby Barolo, the Castiglione. I would have loved one of their big boys, but I'm just a poor chef.

Next order of business, appetizers. Good friend and wine merchant Bill McKenney gave me a jar of his home-made melanzane sott'olio for my birthday and we couldn't wait to get into it. This stuff is so delicious that I am salivating waiting for eggplant season so that I can make some myself. Bill had attached the recipe to the jar and I read it while waiting for the rosemary bread to finish baking. Once the bread had cooled enough to slice, we attacked it and the melanzane. Pure bliss! And the best thing about all the olive oil on the eggplant is that we have enough flavored oil for dipping several more loaves of bread.

Next came the mussels, Ed's Style. Restaurant customers will recognize Ed's style from Ed's pasta and from the frequent appearance of Rockfish Ed's Style on the menu. It's all about the Ed's sauce, a variation of a puttanesca: caramelized garlic, white wine, capers, red pepper flakes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and basil. This sauce is as simple as it is delicious. This is the first time I've ever done mussels with it. I cooked the sauce separately and poured it over the steamed mussels.

A fabulous birthday dinner!

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