On the eve before the first day of my final semester in Culinary School, while I should be looking forward to class tomorrow and all the wonderful things I will learn, I can’t help but cast my mind back to an amazing but simple meal that I prepared a little over a week ago. I still dream about it… I long for it.
While making preparations for a large Oscar Night menu, I decided that if we were going to be doing the “fancy food” thing, we would be remiss were we to fail to include some truly choice cured meats. What I’m saying here is that NO cheese plate is complete without some salty, savory, meaty goodness to back it up.
For those of you familiar with my random blog blatherings, you’ll remember some previous mention of Chef Mark DeNittis. What I may have failed to mention previously, is that the Chef owns and operates a salumi shop in Denver called Il Mondo Vecchio. While I have long considered Chef D to be a friend, mentor and all around class act, what I’ve come to learn over time is that he is also one hell of a cook and craftsman. One full of talent and passion for his work.
I made the drive across town to Il Mondo Vecchio for what the Chef calls “Loading Dock Fridays,” when the savviest of meat fanatics can taste and buy IMV’s tastiest of wares. Upon entering, I was treated to a hearty handshake and a full tasting of IMV’s full available line of salumies and cured, whole muscle meats. It was like being in meat heaven. Seriously.
After much careful consideration (and multiple tastings) I settled on a hunk of excellent Red Wine Bresaola and a chunk of the best Prosciutto I’ve ever had the privilege of putting in my mouth. Chef D was generous enough to throw in some of his Vino e Pepe Nero salumi to boot. With my carefully wrapped packages in tow, I greedily scurried back to the truck and made my way home.
The PLAN was to save the IMV delicacies for the Sunday festivities, but c’mon… there was no way we could wait. I started slicing the second I got home. Being in possession of a couple pounds of fresh mussels and a bottle of white wine, we had our main course all set… I figured the IMV meats would compliment it perfectly. Buddy was I ever right. Such a meal! The mussels were cooked perfectly, and we relished scooping up shells full of buttery, garlicky sauce which we slurped enthusiastically. The Vino e Pepe Nero was spicy and fantastic. The Red Wine Bresaola filled our heads with beefy, tannin tinged warmth… but the prosciutto… the prosciutto melted on the tongue, coating our mouths in salty, fatty wonderfulness and was the most talked about portion of the meal. I could probably sit here and type out a thousand words TRYING to describe to you the flavors and textures of these incredible treats, but instead I’m going to just recommend that you do yourself the biggest favor you’ve ever done, and get some of this stuff for yourself.
Go to the website… MondoVecchio.net and have a look around. You can read about the various products, hand crafted and cured in house… you can follow the IMV guys on facebook, or sign up for the newsletter… but whatever you do, go to the “Where to Buy” tab and click on the Mondo Foods banner. Order up some product. Mondo Foods will send it right to your doorstep, and then you can slice it thin and let your tongue do the dancing.
So, I’ve decided to do something a little differently from now on. Rather than hiding recipes in the middle of long-winded blog posts, I’m going to write up the recipes separately and post links to them in said long-winded blog posts.
To that end, today’s recipe is of course the aforementioned mussels, prepared in a white wine butter sauce.
To read the recipe, you can click on the link below, or the picture.
If you have any access to fresh mussels, I really recommend you try this at least once… it’s crazy easy and tasty as hell.
Well, kids… that’s it for today. Stay tuned this week for a full compliment of recipes from Oscar Night, including Baked Brie with Brandied Blackberry Sauce, Chicken Liver Pate, Easy Shrimp Ceviche, Ham and Spinach Quiche, and Chianti Braised Short Ribs. Mmmm… tasty.