Saturday morning, I fought eight aisles of parking lot traffic to score a front-and-center spot. And it was shaded. (!!!) I used every American dollar I had on me to buy two types of hummus, garlic dip, strawberries, and lemongrass. (The lemongrass was $1.50 for a bunch the diameter of a baseball. For those uninitiated, that’s a freaking steal.)
After I ran out of cash, I found myself cruising through stalls looking for vendors who took credit cards. (My car was resting comfortably under a tree and I was not ready to surrender my space.) As I cursed all the vegetable farmers for being cash hogs, I recalled that my favorite fish peeps would take care of me.
Salmon, check. Ahi tuna, check. Hamachi yellowtail, check.
We spent Saturday afternoon cleaning house and moving furniture. The entire contents of our living room and dining room (minus the baby grand piano) needed to crash on the patio for the night so that the following day, we could host a living room jazz concert for roughly 60 people.
By Saturday evening, my back ached, my feet hurt, and all that could help was a beverage. Leffe Blonde, to be exact. According to the back label, this bottle was a subtle and delicate, yet full-bodied deep golden ale. There was also a recommendation to serve it in its own chalice-shaped glass… But based on my afternoon, going straight from the bottle seemed much more satisfying.
I had recently seen a promising mussels recipe and sent Barry out to buy some fennel just so I could try it. The result: a lovely aperitif to a decidedly Japanese dinner. While I prepared the mussels (using beer instead of wine), Barry quickly assembled some center-cut salmon, saku-cut ahi tuna, and hamachi (yellowtail).
We ate while hovered over the kids’ table, mopping up the sauce with a lot of crusty bread.
Dare I say, I think we found our rhythm again.
In less than fifteen minutes, steam a pot of mussels in butter, shallots, fennel, coriander, and beer. Serve immediately with some nice crusty bread.
- • 1 small baguette, sliced, toasted, and kept warm
- • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic olive oil
- • ½ (small) fennel bulb, cored and sliced thinly
- • 1 large shallot, sliced thinly
- • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- • ¾ cup blond Leffe blonde beer
- • Juice of ½ Meyer lemon
- • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- • Kosher salt
- • 1 pound mussels, cleaned
- • ½ teaspoon parsley leaves, minced
- Preheat oven to 350?F. Slice a small baguette accordion-style (keep the bottoms connected) and bake in oven, uncovered, to warm up.
- In a sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, the shallot, and the garlic, and cook until soft, about five to eight minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beer, lemon, coriander and fennel seeds and stir well, and then add the mussels and cover the pot. Shake the pan, then cook for about 2-3 minutes; shake it again, and cook for another minute.
- Using stainless steel tongs, begin removing mussels to a serving platter as they open, and cover and cook to allow any slower-to-open mussels cook. If mussels don’t open up after two minutes, discard.
- Remove bread from the oven and pull apart the pieces. Cover the mussels with the pan sauce, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately with the warm crusty bread, and some nice white wine… or beer.
Source: Adapted from The Manhattan Food Project, who adapted it from The Les Halles Cookbook.
Bistro Eats is a collection of recipes we think could work in a bistro setting, i.e. the brick and mortar Rustic Garden Bistro. Click on this category to see a snippet of what the menu may look like.