mussels with tomatoes, lovage 8/30/10

Yes, it really was hot, both inside the apartment and out, but assembling this simple meal didn’t add anything to the temperature of the kitchen last night (the thermometer was already showing 86 degrees at 10 o’clock, but it didn’t register any higher after I was done cooking).

The flame under the covered pot was on for only about two or three minutes, so little of the heat it generated escaped into the room.   Also, we had two efficient fans in the dining area near the window, so within only a few minutes after I had thrown everything into a large enameled cast-iron pot we were able to enjoy a perfect late-summer supper.

When we had finished this course I realized we had still had some wine (we must have been really busy with the bivalves), so I brought out a sampling of some excellent light cheeses.  We followed that small course with some luscious plums.

By the way, while I’ve had a lot of shellfish casualties in the past, there were almost none this time:   Of the two pounds I started with, not one mussel was lost after making it into the pot (although three, which had already opened, had been rejected while I was cleaning them).   O Canada!

I want to say one more thing about this meal:  I’m crazy about lovage.   I have to restrain myself, or I’d probably try to introduce this herb into at least half of the things I put together.  This time however the recipe, by Jerry Traunfeld (which I found in a piece by Sara Dickerman in the Times Magazine four years ago), already called for it.

  • small mussels (farmed in Canada, somewhere in the Maritimes) from Citarella, steamed with a third of a cup of dry Vermouth, a little butter, 2 cups of diced “Black” (mahogany-brown) heirloom tomatoes from Bill Maxwell’s farm, ground pepper, chopped shallots, and generous amounts of lovage, also from Maxwell’s;  served with crusty long (Italian?) bread from Citarella
  • cheese:  from the Greenmarket, two wonderful soft-ripened goat types, “bigelo” and “doolan”, from Ardith Mae in Hallstead, Pennsylvania
  • wine:  Tuscan, San Quirico Venaccia di San Gimignano 2008, from Appellation Wines
  • three varieties of ripe plums from New Jersey’s  Tree-Licious orchards, picked up in the Greenmarket three days before


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