Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Olivia's World of Food: Belgium

When Jason returned from a recent trip to Washington DC, all he could do was rave about a restaurant and bar he visited called Dr. Granville Moore's. He loved the ambience, but what he really loved was the beer. The Moules Marinieres and Frites were a close second. Even though he didn't actually try them, he couldn't stop talking about them.

So, when Olivia decided to start her World of Food series and settled on Belgium for B -- well, it was clear there was no other choice!

We googled and found this super short, super informative video.

In case the video goes to quick for ya, here are the ingredients.

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 cups white wine (though, as you'll see in the reviews ... we think you could halve this)
  • 2 lbs mussels
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

If you've never bought mussels, don't worry. Here are some tips for buying, storing and cleaning mussels. I wish we'd read it before we started! We knew about the buying (most important: make sure they're all alive!), but we had a hard time de-bearding our mussels. These tips might have helped!


De-beard the mussels. (Olivia complained the whole time about how frozen her fingers were getting! And I have to admit, it wasn't as easy as the Harvard video chef would have you believe.)

Melt butter in pan over medium-high. Saute shallots for 2-3 minutes, then add wine.

Add mussels, a sprig of thyme, and bay leaves. Cover to steam, 2-3 minutes. Add cream and chopped parsley.

Remove from heat and eat with crusty bread. It's that simple! And really not as expensive as you'd think. The mussels were only $3/pound at Whole Foods. The wine a bit more ;-)

The reviews?

Chef Olivia -- It was hard to take the beards off the mussels (why do they have beards anyway?!?) I was wondering if I forced the shell open while they were still alive would they bite me? Overall, I think the dinner was good. The sauce was a little too wine-y, but other than that it was great!

Hannah -- I don't like it. I don't like killing something to eat it. Why couldn't they kill it before it got to our house? I think I want to be a vegetarian. (*We tried talking to her about how every meat she eats is alive before they kill it ... and how it's hard to be a vegetarian when you really only like 2 or 3 vegetables. But she wasn't having any of the conversation -- or the mussels.)

Miranda - They're good. Can I have a second helping?

Tanya & Jason - We both really enjoyed them. We agree with Olivia that there was too much wine in the sauce and not enough cream. But other than that, it's a really good meal that's fast and would make a special treat for guests.

OOOHHHH... almost forgot. The Frites! Here's the thing. They're just french fries. Most recipes call for frying, but we just slice a couple russet potatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes. To serve them true belgian "frites" style you serve them with mayonnaise. Frites sounds so frou frou, but the mayo side it almost reminds us of one of the least frou frou places in America -- Utah -- where "fry sauce" is the norm.


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