Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I rue the day we enter into the non-"r" months when rumor has it that molluscs should be off the menu. It's late August and I find myself at Thomas Keller's bistro Bouchon for lunch in Yountville, CA. The plateau des fruits de mer looks too tantalizing to pass up. My dining companion, Jose, orders the plateau while I opt for a pot of mussels. Our intention is to share.
The plateau presents a glorious display including fresh creamy curly oysters. My mussels arrive in an ovular Staub mussel pot, drowning in a sea of white wine, mustard and saffron. We are living on the edge, but I have full faith in the chef and his purveyors.
The seafood is delicious and meaty indeed. No meager summertime molluscs here!
I notice the oyster display on the zinc bar reveals the sources: Marin Bay in California, Snow Creek in Washington State, Petit Manan and Bagaduce from Maine, and St. Anne from Nova Scotia. We learn Maine is also the home of the "bouchot mussels."
The truth is, good quality oysters and mussels can be had in August. If the chef is as discerning of the sources as they are at Bouchon, then you're in the clear -- no "r" withstanding.