we started the meal with a sampling of charcuterie from the newly opened Fatted Calf store in Hayes Valley. they use high quality and local ingredients and all of their meats are cured and prepared by hand.the flavors and exquisite pates and salumis surly show case this delicate art. they also offer classes so you can learn these skills for yourself. YUM!
on the right side of the board are a few cheese we picked up at Cheese Plus. they are always so helpful and have an amazing variety of artfully crafted cheeses from around the world. the blue cheese was by far the favorite. a goats milk blue from france: blue du bocage goat. its excellent. the best part is we have enough left for dinner tonight. this makes me very happy.
finally – mussels from SwanOysterDepot. a long standing sf fishmonger. they have been at it been around for decades. they have an oyster bar which looks like it hasent changed since the place opened and you at 9am you can see people happily slurping oysters, eating huge bowls of clam chowda and drinking anchor steams – its looks like so much fun. i still have yet to partake. but their fish is amazing! its the only place i will buy seafood from in the city. you can call ahead to order or just get there early. but i suggest getting in before 10 to have prime choice.
2 1/2lbs of fresh mussels. scrubbed and debearded
1 large fennel bulb. cored and diced. fronds reserved and chopped aprox 1/4 cup.
1 large onion diced.
2 cloves garlic diced.
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
tbsp of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup vodka
1 1/4 cups of fish stock, or other stock if you prefer.
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper.
in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet heat oil and saute fennel, onion, garlic and thyme. until softened. aprox 8 mins over medium heat.
next add red pepper flakes and saute another 1 minute
add vodka and wine and bring to a boil. reduce 3 mins.
add stock and bring to a boil. when it is boiling add mussels. cover and shake pan or gently fold bottom mussels to top. until mussels are opened and cooked. aprox. 7 minutes. discard any unopened ones.
while mussels are cooking i placed a large le cruset baking dish in the oven at 300. when the mussels were cooked i carefully transfered them into the warm lecruset and placed it back in the oven.
i then added the last dollop of butter, chopped parsley, fennel fronds, and salt and pepper. i melted the butter and reduced the sauce simmering gently for 3 minutes. removed mussels from oven and poured the sauce over the top.
served w. big hunks of crusty bread.