Moules Mariniere – Taking the Bait!

French Friday’s with Dorie

Moules mariniere

Moules Mariniere is one of those dishes I only eat when I am far from home. I have fond memories of eating them as a late afternoon lunch at a French bistro when the steaming, wine flavored broth was just the right tonic for restoring my faith after a long day of touring the city. I also have fond recollections of huge bowls of moules mariniere brought to me at small wooden tables in Italian Mediterranean or Greek Island towns. Multiple glasses of local white wines would wash them down nicely and ensure a memorable lunch.

I never even think to make them at home. Ever.

The earlier French Friday with Dorie mussels recipe assigned two years ago (made with chorizo) had me pondering on how my earliest association with mussels (the squishy raw meat we used as fishing bait) probably had a lot to do with my need for geographical distance from home before I could enjoy them properly as cuisine. This, combined with the simple fact that my Dear One isn’t much of a a shellfish lover would ensure that mussels stayed off the home menu. They are quite easy to make and bringing a bowl to the table has always had a certain panache that elevated my culinary self-esteem a notch or two, but I wouldn’t make them.

All my mussel consumption during the intervening two years was done while I was on vacations or away on business travel. Each time it was always this classic preparation known as Moules mariniere and each time it was appreciated as the simple, classic, and always tasty dish it is.

Moules mariniere

Moules Mariniere

With this week’s French Friday with Dorie assignment (from her book “Around My French Table”) I was asked to leave my associations (as bait and otherwise) behind and once again prepare mussels for home consumption. Reluctantly, I took the bait and made mussels at home once again. Only this time the chorizo was to be left behind so the preparation could proceed according to the more classic moules marinier: mussels steamed open in a simple wine, onion, and herb broth and sopped up with grilled bread.

And they were quite good. All the usual ingredients are included in Dorie’s version. She does suggest augmenting the wine-onion-herb broth with half a bullion cube (regular readers will understand why I happened to have a few on hand) which I complied with. The resulting flavor was still very similar to the moules mariniere I dined on so many places elsewhere.

But something was missing.

What was missing was the change of scenery. Moules mariniere just isn’t the same when it is not consumed it in a busy Paris bistro with friends or while watching the sunset from a hillside in Santorini. If “location is everything” with moules mariniere it is certainly more true.

But I did like it. Actually, loved it. And more surprisingly, so did my Dear One. He is always a good sport when French Fridays assignments ask him to travel outside his comfort zone so it could be said that he was traveling while eating these. But even still, I won’t be making them at home again. I am much more likely to revisit the satisfying Mussels with Chorizo or wait to make the Curried Mussels we will be making before this project closes up shop. Maybe I’ll make them with beer or with some Pernod and cream in the mix.

Anything but the classic moules mariniere that I only enjoy fully when I eat them anywhere else but here.

Moules mariniere


Dorie’s recipe for moules mariniere can be found here. You can also join me on our Facebook page

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Your photos literally make me smile. They are SO beautiful and the lighting- perfect. Love the association with place this dish has for you. For our family, it is very much a Christmas Eve- Feast of the Seven Fishes memory. And I too wondered why I might not knock something like this out mid week. I am very much looking forward to the curry version- that will be an adventure for sure. An we all need adventures on a Friday- regardless of location 🙂

    • Thank you dear. Frankly I took a look around and to my eyes it looks as if every single photo of mussels on the internet looks exactly the same! I mean exactly! These would have been much better had they been served with baked apples and vinegar.

  2. You converted your Dear One into a mussels fan??? A bit green here….

    • Nobody was more surprised than I was. I think perhaps he is a fan of the broth more than the actual mussels…but he enjoyed them enough that he might eat them again but only if I served them. I doubt he would order them on vacation!

  3. Yes I think for a lot of people this dish would bring happy vacation memories!

  4. Unfortunately, mussels do not have any vacation association for me – I am pretty sure that I have not had them anywhere but home. However, I will appropriate your memories next time I have them and pretend that I first had them along the coast of some faraway land or first enjoyed them in a bistro in a city on another continent. I will also pretend that I am not an utterly cranky b**** because it has been below zero all week and can’t remember the last time I was warm.

    Fortunately, I really like mussels – no matter where I get to enjoy them.

  5. Gorgeous photos!

  6. I sure hope I have the opposite reaction to dishes that I try to replicate after I leave Italy, in that cooking x (cacio e pepe, sfogliatelle, etc etc) will bring me right back here. It’ll never taste as good back home, because the products are inferior, so I’m probably hanging on to a futile dream. Ah, well. I’ll just have to vacation here.

  7. Mmmm. I can taste the white wine to accompany and hear the loaf of bread crack to sop up all the juices in the bowl. Looks and sounds delicious. I also love the sound of muscle shells tapping one another. Please put your bowl in front of me.

  8. (I’m still distracted by your grilled bread…)
    Yay! Dear One even liked them — happy days. Glad you enjoyed, even at home.

  9. I love the locations you channeled. Pernod and cream. I am so going to try that soon.

  10. Beautiful photos. I agree with you on the bread. And also on the idea that a far-off locale (or at least a vacation) makes these even better! 🙂

  11. I think we need to experience these together, soon, on a sunny isle.

  12. I think I could learn to enjoy moules mariniere if I were sitting on a hillside in Santorini! I actually enjoyed the mussels with the chorizo…I think because I could eat the chorizo and my hubby could enjoy the mussels! I can honestly say…I loved the broth on this one! Gorgeous photos, Trevor! Especially love the first one! Enjoy your weekend!

  13. Trevor, first of all, if some one else is doing the cooking it always taste better. Having it while on vacation
    in Paris, Rome, whatever, what’s not to love. Yours do look wonderful and I love the photos.

  14. I think food memories are tough to change. I can happily eat some things at a restaurant or a friend’s place and enjoy it but would never make it myself at home.

    These photos could even turn ME into a mussel lover.

  15. These mussels were good, but I agree that they would have tasted fabulous in Paris.

  16. Not only does that pile of mussels in the first picture look like they could fall right off the page, I also really like the grilled country bread that is in a “fog” at the back of the picture. Nice job, Ansel Adams. I actually incorrectly made these mussels two years or so ago when I was supposed to make Mussels with Chorizo. (I was a newbie to FFWD and easily confused.) I do not recall thinking the broth’s flavoring needed to be punched up but I certainly did this time. Since you seemed to like the Chorizo recipe, I need to make that while I am in Cali where I can get good mussels easily. I also have some moules memories which I am revisiting. Nice post. Wonderful food photography. xox PS I am starting to “brace” myself for your Valentine Post.

  17. Delicious! Pinned and shared.

  18. Love visiting you and reading your post, wonderful as usual. Happy weekend to you and yours!

  19. I never make mussels at home either – they must be consumed in a little French or Mediterranean bistro or at least a seaside restaurant stateside. It’s all about the atmosphere… and the grilled toasts to sop up all the delicious broth.

  20. Oh Trevor, now you’ve awoken my wanderlust and have me dreaming of island adventures in Greece. Sigh.

  21. I propose a Mussels tour of Europe… I agree mussels are best eaten on vacation, but the curried mussels does sound interesting to me..never had them curried. You used them as bait? How did you get the shells open?

  22. Maybe Paris is what was missing in mine also. Perhaps I have to go to Paris and try making these there to see if that was the missing element. Good suggestion as always!

    The toast in the background also looks like it was perfectly prepared!

  23. Nice. I would have to try this with clams as mussles are not a favourite! 🙂

  24. I, too, thought back to when we made mussels with chorizo. Now I want more mussels!

  25. Mussels on vacation sound fantastic, though I don’t know if I’ve ever actually eaten mussels out. Mussels at home are still pretty good. Great photos!

  26. My Dear One is a HUGE shellfish lover, I on the other hand am not! But since I hold the keys to our kitchen I’ve made the executive decision not to even tell him what was on the menu for this Friday…Maybe in the very distant future I might cave in – if the prise is right 😉 and make this recipe. I know he is going to like very much!

    Trevor, I made a Pinterest board for our FFwD group where you can pin your fabulous photographs; here is the link! Please join!!

  27. I know! I feel the same way about Spam; I can only really enjoy it in prison

  28. What a perfect place to eat mussels – Paris one of my favorite cities. Vienna may not be bad either. Oh well, back to reality. Wonderful presentation and as always a delightful post to read. I am glad Dear One was a convert – it would be a shame to go through life and not enjoy mussels at least once. (My opinion). Have a great week:)

  29. I didn’t get this one done but yours look perfect! Seriously beautiful photos!

  30. I actually have a specific association with mussels too, but it wasn’t a vacation. At least 15 years ago, my best friend and I took a day trip to Whidbey Island (in Washington). After a chilly hike on the beach we had lunch at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and got the freshest, most delicious mussels ever! I still remember those mussels fondly, and haven’t enjoyed them as much since. Yours look beautiful!

  31. It did feel strange to eat these so far away from the sea (and/or Paris!) and in the dead of a blizzard, but I am glad I made them too. Your mussels look beautiful and I agree that it may be time to revisit the other recipes (or rather for me, visit them for the first time!)

  32. Reading this has made me long for a vacation in Santorini!