One of the best memories of the summer months and our vacation in Britanny is eating fresh seafood every day - it's really not something I could ever grow tired of, I don't think, especially not with the variety at hand. Langoustines, lobster, mussels, sea spiders, or just plain fish... when it's well prepared (and simple is often best) there's nothing better!
When it comes to the different ways of cooking mussels, I have tried lots of flavours and have always come back to the traditional two: moules marinières (in a variety of interpretations, but essentially involving wine, onion and cream) or moules provençales (in a chunky sauce of onion and tomatoes). In London I have often had mussels at Belgo's, a chain mentioned in every Rough Guide et al. for the discerning traveller. Once you've made it to the front of the enormous queue - no reservations taken - you're led to a vault-type basement restaurant with long communal tables and waiters clad in monks' costumes. They have fabulous deals of a kilo of mussels (you have to search high and low in London to find molluscs of this quality) with accompaniments at roughly £10, fantastic value for a eatery bang on in the middle of London. With more than 15 different flavours to choose from, you're spoilt for choice, and I have tried most of them - Thai, curry, mustard, mushrooms and bacon... the classics always being best. They also boast the largest selection of Belgian beers and you'll find anything from Gueuze in different flavours, to Trappist, white, fruit beer, pilseners and ales. Not that this makes any difference to me, I don't drink there, as their selection of wines by the glass leaves to be desired. (I have been talked into trying their spirits, though, which are being served by the metre, rather than the glass...)
I am not shy to admit that I do enjoy some fries with my mussels at times (standard fare at Belgo's, for obvious reasons), but often a plain baguette will do, especially lovely when mopping up the sauce.
This summer, one of the restaurants we went to (I believe it was somewhere on the South coast, not far from Pont-Aven) the chef did a Spanish-inspired version of moules provençales, by adding some chorizo - a very succeeded variation!
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