august in maine makes for a multitude of foraging opportunities. fruit is the most obvious. i was feeling a bit like a bear wandering about and eating anything that struck my fancy.
raspberries and blackberries were plentyful, but it was the blueberries that i really gourged myself on. maine is known for it’s tiny, sweet, wild blueberries. they are quite different from the high bush blueberries that we have in michigan, not better just different. i find them a bit sweeter, with a little less bite to them.
the apples were also in great abundance – but none of those that i tested were ripe yet.
but i also looked wishfully into the surf – knowing that there were plenty of edibles just under the surface.
just two doors down from the house we were staying at, a gentleman named price lives, and he is kind enough to let everyone on the lane have access to the beach in front of his house.
ma and i spent hours poking around the tide pools looking at the crabs, anemones, sea urchins, and starfish. i noticed the mussels and gave thoughts to eating them, but really knew nothing about how they should be harvested and if there were limits of when they could be gathered.
a gentleman was out gathering mussels and i asked him about it, and he was kind enough to explain the method of collecting as well as preparation.
empowered with this new knowledge, ma and i went to work quickly and with great zeal collecting mussels as the tide was coming in.
it was recommended that we collect mussels on the small size and most of the ones we found were monsters – it required a good amount of hunting to find any of usable size.
of course i couldn’t just cook something simple up, i had to make these few fresh mussels as fine a meal as possible. so with that i present my recipe for little deer isle mussels. this is for about two dozen mussels.
1.scrub mussels well, soak in cold brine solution for one half hour. remove beards, this is the part they use to cling to rocks. use a pair of pliers and grip them tight and twist the beard off. if you miss part of it, you can remove it once the mussels are steamed.
2. saute 2 cloves garlic and a quarter onions chopped finely in a large deep saucepan with 1 tablespoon butter for about 4 minutes. add 3 small carrots, chopped finely– in this case i used one purple, one yellow, and one orange carrot – cause i’m fancy. saute another 3 minutes.
3. add about 3/4 cup of white wine and bring to a boil. add mussels and cover with a tight-fitting lid. shake occasionally, check them after 4 minutes and remove any mussels that have popped open and place in a bowl. cover back with a lid and check again ever minute or so. discard any mussels that don’t open after 8 minutes.
4. keep cooked mussels covered while you finish sauce. to finish sauce continue cooking liquid until reduced by about half. add about a tablespoon of cream and then pour over the finished mussels. serve immediately.
viola! i think they were the finest i’v ever tasted.
i’m looking forward to reading up on other foraging opportunities for our next trip to the coast – maybe some clams next time – the steamers we ate were wonderful.