Yes, Portarlington mussels are better than those prepacked ones that are supposed to be asleep. Decision confirmed, after much deliberation, by a jury of two on a cold winter's night, the event accompanied by a rich, buttery chardonnay with - yes - oak maturation. To cut through the garlic, which makes sauvignon blanc taste like ... oh, you know.
Everyone knows the mussels recipe; I must have posted it at least a half dozen times in the almost-six years I have been writing this blog. However, if you just arrived, it goes like this (if not, go to the next paragraph): buy a kilogram of fresh mussels; de-beard them (this is cosmetic only; the wisps won't kill you if you happen to cook them); warm six very finely chopped cloves of garlic in a little oil, a lot of cracked pepper and a cup or more of white wine; cut up six spring onions; place the mussels into the wine and garlic on high heat; cook them five minutes; scatter in the onions and serve immediately in large bowls with crusty bread to dip in the briny sauce. That's enough for two as a generous main course, or four as a side or entree.
This time there was about a cup of fluid left over, full of garlic shards. I was a little heavy-handed on the wine and garlic. Too good to waste (an expression I have been using more and more lately). The following night I heated the fluid through, added a jar of passata, two cans of good tuna in oil and a cup of peas, cooked it for twenty minutes or so and served it over thin, slippery fettucine. Delicious, with a depth of flavour that comes only from good stock.