Clockwise from top left: Getting to this beach is a bit tricky; but at the bottom is the reward; even at this low tide, its still a bit wet and even my crappy phone camera occasionally gets a good photo.

So now, how are we going to prepare them?  This was the topic of discussion in the car heading home until - A-Ha!  we have fresh tomatoes from the garden and chilies from our friend’s garden, so of course, spicy tomato stew with mussels!  We also had fresh made local bread (by New Zealand Masterchef finalist and local baker Aaron Brunet) which would be perfect for dipping, plus some other locally grown veggies for the salad.

For the Sauce:

-a bunch of fresh tomatoes

-an onion

-a red bell pepper

-some garlic

-cilantro sprigs

-fresh chilies


-splash of red wine

We got the sauce going first, start with the garlic, onions and red pepper in olive oil, cook until soft, then add the coarsely chopped tomatoes and cilantro.  Salt to taste.  Cook for a bit and add a splash of red wine.  Then have a glass of wine  (we were also drinking fresh squeezed grapefruit and Bacardi) and put the stew on low and cook covered while you prep the mussels.  Note that tonight we just didn’t have enough fresh tomatoes, so I augmented the stew with a can of cooked whole tomatoes.  Oh well...

Cocktail while cooking: The classic ‘sneakuponya’, invented by Dr. J.L. Borrero in Altamonte Springs, Florida.  Hand-squeezed grapefruit, Bacardi white rum, ice. So good. Only works when grapefruits are fresh and juice is hand squeezed.

Cleaning the mussels is a bit of a pain, but worth the effort.  Store bought, farm-raised mussels are clean and bright green.  But the wild ones are covered in barnacles and other stuff, so its worth giving them a scrub.  I fill the sink with water, dump the mussels in, then using the shell of another mussel, knock off the barnacles and whatever of the shells, pull off any seaweed, give ‘em a scrub and a rinse and toss into another pan.

Steaming is easy, I did about 20 in a batch.  Put the fire on high, have about an inch of water in the pan, let it get real hot with the lid on, dump the suckers in, cover and wait ‘til they all pop open.  Easy as!


While all that was going on, Holly made one of her amazing salads with locally grown lettuce, and cucumber.  The corn and these tomatoes were from the grocery store.  We also had a couple of small pieces of steak which we pan seared with some shitake mushrooms while he mussels were steaming.

So there it is, by now, the tomatoes which had been stewing away, are all cooked down and ready to go.  Serve it up in a bowl, put a few hot mussels on top, garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve with the warm bread and a glass of pinot noir. On the other plate we have the steak, mushrooms and salad.  But not for long!