Looking for a different sort of St. Paddy's Day dish this year? These whiskey mussels en papillote get a good sousing of Irish whiskey before steaming in the oven, and don't forget your crusty bread for mopping up the juices!
Is it just me, or do the places that you visit become a part of you? Since St. Paddy's Day is almost here, let's use Ireland as an example.
I have always looked forward to St. Patrick's Day, but in the way that a non-Irish American girl with an appreciation for food and culture does. More years than not, I've made Corned Beef and Cabbage. If I get a good enough head start, I'll even cure my own brisket so that we have homemade corned beef. I've been known to eat Reubens all week long, just to get in the spirit.
Beef and Guinness Stew? Oh yes. Champ? You bet. Bangers and Mash? Of course! Don't forget the Soda Bread, the Guinness Beef and Veg Hand Pies, and the Cabbage and Bacon Soup. But then it happened. In 2012, I hopped onto an airplane for the very first time in my life, and 8-1/2 hours later, I landed in Dublin.
I was specifically there for a tour of Irish Whiskey distilleries, but you can bet that I was just as interested in the food as I was the whiskey. And guess what? I didn't have a single bowl of corned beef and cabbage. I didn't have a Reuben. I didn't even see a side of Champ. But the Guinness and Soda bread were plentiful.
Instead, I found myself making my way through the different varieties of Brown Bread, sipping whiskey, and eating lots and LOTS of seafood! Coming from the Midwest, fresh seafood is something that I only get when I travel to coastal regions (I didn't stay put in Dublin). Emphasis on the fresh. I take full advantage.
From smoked fish at breakfast, to fish chowders at lunch, to shellfish pulled from the ocean moments before we ate dinner, I ate my fair share of local sea offerings. Whiskey and seafood. Seafood and Whiskey. Those are my two Irish-identifiers. Well, those and the big, beautiful slices of Irish bacon.
So now, when St. Paddy's Day rolls around and the corned beef and cabbage shelves are in high demand, my thoughts turn to the Fishmonger and the Master Distiller. These mussels are wrapped in foil (or parchment paper) after the addition of some flavoring and good whiskey sousing. Be sure to lean over the parcel before slicing it open to get a good wafting of Ireland in your nose!