Moules-frites; ‘mussels and fries’.
It is served as a main dish in France, though it is thought to have originated in Belgium and is even considered the national dish of Belgium. French fries itself is arguably a French/Belgium dish so it’s no wonder moules-frites are a classic dish sold all over France and Belgium. It seems like a more luxurious and elevated dish than it is but in France it is served casually at cafes and bistros.
The mussels are usually served in a steaming pot or pan (the same one used to cook them) with the fries on a separate platter so that they do not become moist. There are several variations and preparations of moules – the most popular one being moules marinière: these are simple mussels cooked with white wine, garlic, shallots, parsley, and butter. Other variations include: moules natures, moules à la crème, moules à la bière, moules à l’ail, which can be cooked with flour and cream, beer, celery and leeks.
Mussels are already incredibly flavorful by themselves so they don’t need heavy seasoning or sauces, however white wine a must. Steaming white wine lends acidity into the briny mussels. Fresh herbs and garlic add an instant boost of flavor to any dish but this dish would be completely lost without them. The most important part of this dish is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients. When cooking seafood like mussels, they must be absolutely fresh.
Let’s not forget about the fries or pomme-frites. Fries are a welcomed addition to this dish and is used to soak up ever last bit of the briny, garlicky both.
At Left Bank, we serve les moules in two ways:
PROVENÇALE – Tomatoes, Basil, White Wine, Herbs de Provençe.
FLORENTINE – Spinach, White Wine, Garlic, Shallots, Pernod Garlic Butter. Pernod is occasionally added to the broth to accent the warm, anise flavor.
What’s not to love about this dish? It’s fresh, easy, and flavorful and you can really play around with the dish and flavors. Make sure you pair it with a cold glass of white wine to get the ultimate flavor pairing.
Barman’s Choice: The Velveteen Rabbit
Today, I will be highlighting one of the cocktails from the Barman’s Choice.
The Velveteen Rabbit –
Courvoisier, Crème de Violette, House Grenadine, Lime, Egg White
All these ingredients individually are unique on their own but together, creates a cocktail that is creamy, floral, and sweet.
Courvoisier is a brand of cognac that is produced in Jarnac, France. Originally established in Paris, in the French suburb of Bercy in 1809, Emmanuel Courvoisier started a wine and spirit company with Louis Gallois, then the mayor of Bercy. Napoleon Bonaparte visited the production cellars and was credited with saying he wanted his artillery companies to have a ration of cognac during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1869, Napoleon Bonaparte’s heir Napoleon III personally requested that Courvoisier be given the honorable title of “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court” which is still displayed at the Courvoisier museum in Jarnac. Courvoisier has long asserted themselves in connection to the French leader and even have several bottles named after him, in part to celebrate his love of this fine cognac brand.
Cognac is similar to whiskey but cognac is made from grapes whereas whiskey is made from grains. They are both aged in barrels but cognac imparts a fruitful aroma and flavor and is only produced in the French region.
Crème de violette is a liqueur with natural and/or artificial violet flavoring and a blue-purple hue. Just as it sounds, it has a distinct floral and sweet aroma and usually has a brandy base. Crème de violette is primarily added as a sweetener but also adds a distinct floral note to any cocktail. It first made its appearance in a drink created by Hugo Ensslin – the Aviation is a classic cocktail made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice. This ingredients pairs well with herbal and citrus flavors to balance out its sweetness.
Grenadine is commonly used in many cocktails as a syrup characterized by its deep, red color. It was originally prepared from pomegranate juice, sugar, and water.
Lime juice is an obvious addition to any mixed drink! It adds acidity and a bold, citrus flavor.
Saved the best for last – egg whites. Egg whites probably don’t seem like a natural addition to any drink for that matter but it actually used in many craft cocktails. Egg whites are rather tasteless and odorless but gives your cocktail a rich, creamy texture. In combination with lime or any citrus juice, it creates a beautiful foamy cap.
Consider trying this fun, craft cocktail full of texture next time you come in!