My adventure with mussels started in Los Angeles and took me clear across the country to Provincetown where I first tasted Spicy Mussels with Cherry Peppers.
How often do we give in to life’s course? Trust and an open mind is a key to opportunity and how to find it.
Earlier this year I was invited to a chef’s pop-up event, which was being hosted at the beautiful Herringbone in Santa Monica. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get out, to meet people, and to learn something.
The event was presented by Chef’s Roll to introduce Patagonia Mussels USA and PSLA (Produce Services of Los Angeles) to the industry. Many talented chefs were attending this event: Chef Brian Malarkey, Chef Brian Scott Manoto, Chef Penny Davidi, Chef Michele Ragussis, Chef Shirley Chung, Chef Vanessa Lauren, Chef Nicholas Sepehr to name a few. Part of this collaboration was to create delicious mussel dishes using Patagonia mussels. We broke into teams and I found myself with Chef Penny Davidi and Chef Michele Ragussis!
At one point I was having a conversation with one of the chefs about my experience. I mentioned I needed more practice in a commercial kitchen. She extended an invitation to her restaurant when it was in preparation for opening this season. Incredibly, a month later I found myself booking a ticket to Provincetown, Massachusetts. If the excitement wasn’t enough it also happened to be at the same time winter storm Niko ripped through the Northeast dropping almost 20 inches of snow with winds as high as 70 mph.
Opening the Central House in The Crown and Anchor Inn was a great experience. Because they use seasonal ingredients and their seafood is sourced from local fishermen on Cape Cod, I was able to learn and taste the best ingredients this area offers. Needless to say, I also got intensive practice on cleaning lobsters and shucking oysters!
Spicy Mussels is one of the dishes Chef Ragussis has on the menu. She took a classic mussel recipe of olive oil, shallots, garlic, white wine, butter, parsley, mussels, and added marinated cherry peppers for a perfect kick. These cherry peppers are marinated in oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. I learned a great deal while in Provincetown and grateful to Chef Ragussis and her team at Central House at The Crown.
After Provincetown, I stayed in Boston for a few days and had a chance to explore the city. Then I went to New York and attended a red carpet event for the premiere of the new season of “The Americans”. The day after the premiere, I flew to Florida to spend several weeks with my best friends before heading back to LA.
Looking back on that month it was a whole little life of its own, full of emotions, adventures, lessons, laughs, and tears. It is interesting to look back and trace how one circumstance leads to another. Do you allow yourself to be lead to new opportunities? Are you brave enough to take it? I say yes! Now I offer you the opportunity to say yes to this delicious Spicy Mussels with Cherry Peppers recipe.
Mussels are rich in protein, low in fat and full of minerals.
In the far reaches of South America, mussels are cultivated and harvested by the people of Chiloé Island. These mussels are named after the Patagonia region of Chile where the waters are cold and pristine. Patagonia is the southernmost region of South America, which is shared by Chile and Argentina. While the Argentine side is arid with grasslands and desserts, the Chilean side is made up of ice fields. Mussels from Isla Grande de Chiloé have a unique flavor, and I was lucky enough to be a part of an event where these mussels were being introduced to American chefs.
- 3 pounds mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
- 1 shallot
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon marinated cherry peppers
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Baguette or crusty artisan bread, toasted
- In a heavy skillet, sauté chopped shallots and garlic in olive oil until golden brown.
- Add cherry peppers, mussels and wine. Cover the skillet and cook until mussels open up, about 6 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
- Drop cold butter and parsley and cook for another minute.
- Plate in a dip bowl and serve with toasted bread.
- Slice cherry peppers into thin circles. You might want to use gloves because it can burn your fingers. Put peppers in a mason jar. Cover 3/4 of the jar with extra-virgin olive oil and top with vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and parsley. Mix and let it be! You can start using it in few days.