Monday, November 7, 2011

Pastis - The Secret Ingredient

Arriving home from Back East, My Beloved and I decided to take it easy the first day, doing laundry, catching up on email and generally picking up our routines in a leisurely way.

One of the tasks that awaited our return was to pick up some wines we had purchased at a Schramsberg wine tasting dinner that we attended just before we left. It was nearly noon so we decided to have lunch at Bistro Liaison while we were in Berkeley on that errand.

Okay, all I can say about this preparation for mussels is "brilliant." It was easily the best plate of mussels I have enjoyed since I visited Belgium. Most of the ingredients listed on the menu were standard, shallots, broth, yadda, but the addition of pastis and fresh spinach lightly wilted in the broth made this, to me, into a whole new dish.

The broth was rich with flavor, not as buttery as some, and that was perfect for lunch. The combination of plump mussels with spinach on each forkful did something angelic to each. The little dry toasts soaked up the broth and, when all the mussels were gone, I enjoyed the rest of the wilted spinach floating in the marvelous anise-flavored broth.

This is the third delicious meal we have enjoyed at Bistro Liaison. We stood outside in the sunshine afterwards, chatting with owner/chef Todd, a burly young man from our area of Connecticut, getting tips on restaurants to visit next time we head east. If you find yourself in the East Bay, we can recommend Liaison highly.

Especially the mussels with spinach and pastis.


Blogger Greg said...

Oh boy that sounds good! Welcome home. Cali rocks!

Monday, November 07, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Oh, that looks delicious! Zoomie, have you cooked mussels at home? It's really easy.

Monday, November 07, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, yes, yes, yes, for all kinds of reasons! ;-)

Cookiecrumb, I was always put off by the descriptions of needing steel tools to remove the beards, so I haven't tried doing them at home. I'm just happy when I encounter them in restaurants. If you do them at home, try adding spinach to your next batch - it's really da bomb!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Well, I just buy them at yuppie stores where they've already removed the beards. Yep, I've had mussels florentine; what a nice touch.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011  
Blogger Hungry Dog said...

I love mussels. I love spinach. I love pastis! Well, wait, I don't know that I love pastis, but I think I do. It's generally something I skip in recipes because it's kinda pricey. But the anise flavor does go strangely well with seafood.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I'll look for the de-bearded ones. Thanks for the tip.

Hungry Dog, there are other ways to get that anise flavor in there - fennel, or anise, or anise seeds, I suppose. I think cooks use pastis because they have it on hand. It's da bomb with mussels.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011  

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