My love affair began a number of years ago.
I did not tell my wife at first, as I knew she would not approve, but as time went on, she accepted that we were just meant to be.
All the signs were there – the empty pottles in the recycling, the shells in the compost bin that were not there the day before, and the sneaky container hidden at the back of the fridge.
What is there not to love about the world-famous Marlborough mussel? It is affordable and sustaining, not just where it is farmed but also on the plate.
Mussels are environmentally friendly and go well with most other foods, particularly at the barbecue, where they are extremely easy to cook.
So tell me – what there is not to love about the mighty Marlborough mussel?
Once again the Marlborough Mussel Festival is on our back doorstep. We get to spend a whole day submerged in the world of mussels while enjoying the great hospitality of the Havelock community.
It is one of the most enjoyable events I do each year, with cooking demonstrations and catching up with people and family as we make a day of it.
The humble mussel does not always get the attention it deserves, and it is the poorer cousin of Marlborough oysters and scallops, but I don't see them having a big party.
This is the mussel's day and Havelock's big event, with profits being put back into the community.
While our Marlborough mussels may travel the world and show up everywhere, from fine dining restaurants to humble buffets, you can't help thinking that this multimillion-dollar industry in our backyard, a lot of which may not be seen above the surface of the water, certainly knows how to celebrate the success of what a community can achieve over the many decades it has taken to make the New Zealand Greenshell mussel world-famous.
TIP TOP MUSSEL FRITTERS
(If you use Vogel's bread, then call them Vogel's mussel fritters.)
2 cups cooked chopped mussels
1 carrot, finely grated
2 Marlborough shallots, diced
1 chilli, finely chopped
A large handful of coriander or chervil, roughly chopped
2 cloves Marlborough garlic, finely minced
5 slices white toast bread, diced into small cubes (5mm square maximum)
Slug of Marlborough white wine
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Heat a little grapeseed oil in a pan and shallow fry spoonfuls of the mix. Drain on paper towels and serve with fresh lemon or lime.
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