Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mussels and bubbles make the day at Bistro 1682

There are few things as delicious as a good pot of mussels cooked in cream and wine and served with bubbly made in the Champagne tradition.  My first true experience of moules was with friends in Epernay in the Champagne valley – a few stolen days after a business trip to Paris. It was magnifique.

The only pot of mussels that ever managed to rival that was the one I shared with my friend Susan at Steenberg Estate in Cape Town. Not only does Steenberg have one of the most delightful restaurants in the Cape but they also make my favourite Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), South Africa’s version of great bubbles made according to the French tradition.

Susan and I both had the afternoon free and decided to meet at Steenberg for a leisurely bite to eat and a bit of a girly catch-up. Their tasting room, with its old brass telescopes and comfortable leather couches looking out on to modern water features, is somewhat irresistible but since Cape Town was showing off its sunny side we sat outside and tasted our way through a few wines before moving on to the restaurant.

We both like finger food and decided to order a few starters and tapas to enjoy with our MCC. The flavours, as usual, bowled us over. The Carpaccio made the prettiest picture, although my food photography probably doesn’t do it justice here. Topped with radish, lemongrass, watercress and chili, it was a complete foodie delight. 

Yet, it was the mussel pot that cast a spell of wonder on our day. Fresh-fresh mussels cooked with cream, wine, lots of garlic and fennel and topped with tomato and parsley. It’s almost as good when you try it at home.

Any time spent with good friends is a treat, but combined with great food and fine bubbles it becomes a moment to relish forever.

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