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.