Flexing Our Mussels

A few weeks ago, hubby and I attended a couple of games in the first rounds of the women's NCAA basketball tournament in Columbia with some dear friends of ours.  I've grown up in the Columbia area and until I went away to Clemson, I had never been to a college sporting event.  I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty cool to be in "enemy territory" for the first time.

I looked the part though - I wore garnet and black and cheered for the Lady Gamecocks.  Those National Champions deserve all the praise we can give them!

One funny thing though - I didn't have a neutral stadium bag (clear bags required), only a couple of Clemson ones with either orange or purple straps.  I tried to carry it with the paw facing inward so as not to call attention to myself, but it was pretty hard to miss!

As a way to thank our friends for taking us to the basketball games, we invited them over last night for some epicurean experimentation: MUSSELS.  On a recent trip to Charleston they had mussels and talked about trying to make it at home.  We were more than happy to step up to the challenge and try it ourselves!

I've seen mussels prepped plenty of times on cooking shows but had never done it myself (honestly I'm not a huge fan).  We grabbed a couple 2-pound bags at Whole Foods and went straight to the internet to figure out what the hell we were doing.

Hubby sauteed some shallots and garlic in butter and then added the mussels to the pan.  He poured in some sauvignon blanc to steam them open for a few minutes, then we added cream (and I'm kicking myself - I forgot to add thyme).  I think next time I'll at least add a little tomato paste too, just for depth of flavor.  We certainly learned there are hundreds of flavor paths you can take with this recipe.  Since I'm not the biggest mussel fan (I did try one or two), my favorite part was dipping crusty bread in the sauce, of course!

Along with the mussels, I sauteed some shrimp I marinated in a blend of garlic-infused olive oil, sauvignon blanc, fresh thyme and rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper

The mortar and pestle just couldn't handle it all....had to bust out the mini food processor.

I served it with a mushroom risotto and green beans - I think everything worked really well together!

And we had a great time treating our friends to an experimental feast that we will definitely have to replicate in the near future.