Kathy and I spent a wonderful early Saturday afternoon at lunch in Hopleaf in Andersonville https://hopleafbar.com. We took a long Red Line ride to Uptown then a walk over to Clark, where the bustling once-Scandinavian neighborhood sits. Our lunch feast was a full order of mussels accompanied by a big cone of frites and ailoi, washed down by American (War Birds Lazurite, 3 Floyds Zombie Dust) and Belgian (Brasserie du Pont Bière de Miel, Brasserie Lefebre Barbãr, Piraat by vanSteenberge) beers from their dizzying array. As we picked apart each little creature to consume the morsel within, sopping as much as possible of the wonderful broth in which they were cooked, we got the notion of an even more elegant dish that might be concocted. Not that there’s a thing wrong with mussels. It’s a simple dish we should cook more often. Mussels are relatively cheap, low calorie, and take up the flavors of whatever you bathe them in, whether it be based in beer or wine. Plus, it’s always fun to play with your food.
Belgians have given us their wonderful monk-revered beers, chocolates, frites (on the streets of Amsterdam, they’re “Belgian fries”; don’t know how the French got their hands on them), mussels, and the odd sport of feather bowling, which you can still play at the Cadieaux Café in Detroit http://www.cadieuxcafe.com/featherbowling/.
But we’re Americans. Can’t we take a recipe up a notch? So that’s where Kathy and I got the idea of a mussels pasta dish. Cook the mussels, shuck them all and reserve the meats, add some sautéed mushrooms, thicken the pot liquor to serve as a sauce, cook some pasta, mix mussels, mushrooms, and thickened liquor, spoon over and voilá. Grated cheese on top is optional. A little bread on the side for sopping, then the pairing. Could be a Belgian beer, could be a white wine, probably not a red. But a fancy, easy, and tasty dish, don’t you think? I write this now the afternoon of our experience, but won’t post till I have a proper recipe card and at least run through.
Here it is
Bon apetit! (can’t get it translated into Flemish without paying)
Mmmmm. Can’t beat those little crustaceans, especially when they’re so abundant! What started as a dish for Belgian peasants is out there for all of us, and eating like a Belgian peasant might not be all bad. At least the beer is good.