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The Mussel Mystery Solved

Bar Harbor, Maine had plenty of mussels to offer us, though they also served lobster ice cream.

My wife and I have always enjoyed mussels as an appetizer at our favorite restaurants, but until recently, was never brave enough to try cooking those guys on my own.

I don't know why I was intimidated by those bivalve mollusks, but I have now learned to whip them up at a moment's request--provided, of course, I have them in the fridge. That entails visiting my favorite fish monger, Claws in West Sayville, NY. An amazing little place with the freshest fish I have ever set my eyes on. And when you walk through the door, that sure-fire fish smell you expect is only slightly noticeable--a sure sign of fresh catches.

Keeping mussels fresh was a little tricky for me since I once caught one eyeballing me from a few inches away in the fridge. Yes, they are actually living and breathing and it's a little creepy at first but after a few tries I actually started enjoying the encounters.

Before I cook them I soak them in a mixture of cornmeal and water, which helps with the grit, according to the Lidia Bastianich recipe I use. It's a red sauce recipe and wow is there a lot of dipping that goes on while we make our way through the mussels. For this, you'll also need some very crispy French bread. I bake my own and freeze the loaves so there's always bread around.

If you love mussels and are afraid of taking them on, come out of your shell and try it. It's a snap and there's nothing like doing it yourself.

As for wine, a slighty chilled Pinot Noir will do the trick if you're a red person or any Sauvignon Blanc for the white wine people.

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