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I Love a Man with Mussels

This is a post about love, romance, and eating weird little creepy things out of their shells.

Some people have a hate-on for Valentine’s Day, and I used to be one of those people. I’ve eased up a little since then, realizing that every holiday (like every other day) is what you make of it. I choose to make it all about food. Surprise!

This past year, we’ve been opting for less fancy meals out for some of these ‘romantic evenings’, and have often ended up at our new favourite place to get mussels, The Fat Belgian. It’s cute, and not at all pretentious, with a great selection of beer (Erdinger and Fruli Strawberry on tap, woo!) and mussels. I’ll admit that I haven’t actually tried any of their other food, because we ALWAYS get mussels, frites and beer… and the odd dessert.


Lots of yummy mussels, in a broth filled with gruyere, walnuts and leeks.

To top it off, we almost always get the same friendly waitress, who shares my name and alma mater but only knew me as ‘purple hair’ until our last visit (unfortunately, she no longer works there, so we didn’t get her this time). The view from the second floor is unfortunate, looking out to a bright green tire place on one side and a boob/owl-themed stinkbar on the other. I won’t hold it against them – they can’t choose their neighbours.

Mussels are a very strange thing. Unlike some other seafood, mussels are often paired with very flavourful things, at least partly because the mussel meat has a stronger flavour that can handle other strong flavours. Most of the time, you will find mussels steamed with very flavourful broth, often including some kind of alcohol, and only a scattering of thinly sliced veggies (if any at all). This is best paired with some fresh frites and/or artisan bread (like sourdough).

We had a great Valentine’s meal.

I took the plunge last year, and finally tried making them myself. It was as easy as friends had reported, and now I’m trying to make a chart o’ fun. Basically, I have some of the basics down and am coming up with a few variations on the basic steamed mussel dish. My recipe/chart o’fun will be featured in an upcoming post!!