Cockles11 790 xxx
photo by george billard

2.18.10 Cockles (& Mussels)

I've been in Minneapolis for work the past couple of days. Staying at a rather nice boutique hotel, The Chambers, that was recently acquired by Starwood. It's known as "the art hotel," because it's actually full of paintings and installations by "real" artists. The work in my room, however, is nothing to write home about. Had some lovely mussels here today. I once threw up out the door of a cab while driving up West Broadway, after having eaten a bad mussel at Caroline's comedy club in the seaport. This was sometime in the late 80s, but I still have a deep mistrust of these bivalves. They can be strangely murky and unpleasantly chewy. But ignoring the siren's call of the thin-crust pizza, I ordered a large bowl of the creatures. They arrived, plump and velvety soft, swimming in a creamy broth, scented with wine and garlic. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? Not a thing. With these and a crisp green salad, I was happy. The meal put me in mind of another business trip, this one to Seattle, where I dined on a delicious bowl of Manila clams in a green coconut curry. And that reminded me that I've been meaning to share with you this wonderful recipe from Casa Mono, a Mario Batali side project where they serve delicious Spanish-influenced small plates.