The Mediterranean Blues
Guest Post by Tara Jantzen
Enticed by the surrounding hills, rugged cliffs, warm sandy beaches, and the deep turquoise sea, the relaxed vibe and salty air of the Mediterranean makes you want to immerse yourself at an outdoor café, kick off your shoes, and stare at the sparkling water as you sip a crisp glass of white wine.
And let’s not forget the food.
Fishing villages in the Mediterranean are abundant with al fresco dining and Trattorias serving up the most wonderful, and often simplest, of local seafood dishes. There is nothing more Mediterranean to me than an aromatic seafood meal prepared with ingredients caught that day.
The Mediterraneo Collection reminds me of warm summer evenings wrapped in pink, orange, and blue skies as the sun begins to set. When I look at the whimsical movement of the artist’s scenery, the sandy texture of the surface, and the imperfect shape of these beautiful handmade serving pieces, I dream of coastal escapes and casual meals with family and friends. Homemade meals and a shared experience are fundamental to the Mediterranean lifestyle. I feel inspired to cook up a large bowl of one of my favorite summer dishes—garlicky mussels.
Fresh mussels from the sea, steamed in an herby white wine sauce, a big piece of crusty bread for dipping, and the minerality of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to wash it all down. The time is definitely right for a dreamy Mediterranean evening.
If you’d like a glimmer of your own Mediterranean experience, try our recipe for mussels and wine pairing this weekend!
Garlicky Mussels in Herbed White Wine Sauce
- 4 lb. fresh mussels
- 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbs. unsalted butter
- 5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry, crisp, herbal white wine, such as the Sauvignon Blanc you plan to serve
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- Your favorite crusty bread or baguette torn into large pieces for dipping
Rinse the mussels thoroughly under cold water, ensuring they are clean. Remove any beards your fishmonger may have missed, and be sure to discard any mussels you see that have prematurely opened—these are no longer good.
Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large, lidded pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and minced shallots cooking until they are soft and translucent, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
Carefully add your mussels, wine, and about half of the fresh parsley. Put the lid on the pot and increase the heat to high, cooking for about 5 minutes and tossing only once during that time. At this point, the mussels should be opening wide. If not, cover and give it another minute, but watch carefully.
Toss in the remaining parsley and spoon into individual bowls. Serve with the crusty bread pieces and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
For pairing with our mussels recipe, Sauvignon Blanc is a nice balance to the herbs and garlic used in this dish. A good option is this Hanna Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California, which received a 92 rating from Wine.com.
There are so many wonderful Sauvignon Blancs accessible in the U.S. for under $20. If you can’t find our recommendation, just ask your local wine merchant for one of their favorites.
And be sure to buy a couple of bottles so you can use some in the recipe and the rest for enjoying with your guests.
About the author
Tara Jantzen is a freelance writer living in Southern California. Throughout her extensive career she has traveled all over the world, but considers Italy her favorite destination. She’s spent many trips learning first-hand about food, cooking, olive oil, wine, and the spirit of the Italian lifestyle. She has also completed the WSET Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits and hopes to continue her wine education with Level 3 in the near future.