Friday, May 21, 2010

Mussels Provençal

Last Saturday, May 15, 2010, Carolyn, Julia and I had lunch at El Obrero, a well known and well regarded “bogedone” in the La Boca barrio of Buenos Aires.  The restaurant is well off the beaten path, in a somewhat seedy neighborhood containing many industrial buildings, stray dogs and little street life.  The sidewalks in this area are unusual, abruptly changing elevation that presumably is meant to protect the buildings against flooding from the nearby river (see photo below).  Note that there are no guard rails at the top of the elevated sidewalks.  The restaurant, which dates back to 1954, is popular and crowded. The food and service were excellent.  Here, Carolyn and I introduced Julia to mejillones a la provençal (mussels provencal).  Following is my interpretation, which I developed after a trip to France in 2000.  Extremely simple, but totally satisfying.  -jb

2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup white wine
¼ teaspoon celery seed
salt and black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium/large tomato, diced

In a Dutch oven, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil for 10 minutes over a medium heat.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.  The heat to boiling and add the mussels, cover and reduce heat to medium.  Cook about 8 minutes or until all the mussels have opened.  Discard any mussels that remain closed.  Serve with bread and white wine.

first prepared June 29, 2000

At El Obrero, Augustin R. Caffarena 64


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