Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

14.3.08

Tasmanian mussels.

It just got hotter. The link in the previous post updates automatically and will show that today's top is 40 degrees with a demon northerly.

We escaped to the peninsula the day before yesterday. The theory is that the northerly that heats Melbourne should get colder, like an evaporative cooler, on its trip south over the bay, making the peninsula up to 15 degrees cooler than Melbourne. It's a fine theory when it works. It worked this morning. But around midday, the wind stopped in its tracks. The temperature shot up. Now it's a hazy, intense afternoon, the sun is burning a hole in the sky and even the trees are creaking in the heat.

It's strangely quiet down here. The summer crowds have gone. I walked down a baking street that was almost empty. The beach was practically deserted. And no jet-ski noise. The only sound was the distant hum of traffic on Point Nepean Road. A pelican flew slowly over the waves, beak outstretched, and some other seabirds were plucking small squid out of the shallows.

Mussels in white wine and garlic.

Last night, another old favourite. It's just fresh mussels, garlic, white wine, pepper and parsley, with chili if you wish.

The fish shop down here is now selling pre-packaged live mussels flown in from Tasmania. I was sceptical, but they were as good as the local ones. (Anyone else noticed how much great food is coming out of Tasmania: salmon, King Island cheeses and beef, Cascade beer, etc?)

Chop four or five garlic cloves finely. Warm through in a little olive oil in a big pot. Scatter in some cracked black pepper. Optionally, chop a chili finely and add that.

Before the garlic starts to change colour, add a cup of white wine. Bring to boil and quickly add mussels. Scatter over some finely chopped parsley. The mussels will clatter around in the pan as they open in the boiling fluid. I give them about two minutes. The general advice is that you wait for them to open.

Serve in deep bowls, pouring liquid over the mussels, making sure you scoop up all the finely chopped pieces of garlic that settle to the bottom of the pot. There is something uniquely delicious about the flavour and aroma of garlic in the briny taste of the mussel liquor, especially on a hot evening, especially eaten outside with the sun sailing away to the west, waving golden goodbyes.

Have bowls available in which to place the shells. Mop up the juices with coarse textured bread, sliced ciabatta or the like. Cold beer to accompany. Cheers. Enjoy the rest of the heatwave. I'm off for a swim in the bay. It's cold and blue and quiet.

4 comments:

Anne said...

We're finally heading into spring, so this menu is in our future. This is a meal my younger daughter adores, though our mussels come from Maine, rather than Tasmania. And no beer for her. Plastic tablecloths, or outdoor dining, a necessity!

stickyfingers said...

Speaking of the Peninsula, will you be joining us at the next gathering of Melbourne Food Bloggers at
Bloggers Banquet 2? The Purple Goddess is hosting it at her place in Dromana where we will be able to utilise her wood fired oven constructed in consultation with the local Greek community. Should be a hoot...again.

kitchen hand said...

Yes, Anne, mussels are definitely hands-on eating.

Stickyfingers, thank you: we will drop in if down at the peninsula that weekend. A fleeting visit perhaps, with two noisy toddlers.

Lucy said...

A swim in the bay...perfect.

Lovely heatwave-friendly dish.