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San DIego and Mussels?

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There is a question about where restaurants can get their supply of ,mussels.
In the last couple of weeks, I have had a couple of dishes of less then good mussles at. my local restuarant.

One nite, they stuck to the shell and got stringy from the fork, when the flesh refused to let go . I have never seen this before and wondered what might be the cause. The next time they were even smaller and didn't look that healthy with some having a greyish color. The explanation I got was there was a problem getting the usual local supply, so they had to go to several different suppliers all over the country.

Tonite, I asked at another favorite spot, if the source of their mussels on the menu was still providing them. And the answer was positive. So now, I have come to the point, that I do not feel like ordering mussels anymore and /or find other restaurants with a better supply.

Do you know of any places, that have nice fresh plump fleshy mussels prepared in a nice broth?

Thanks!

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  1. The mussels that are raised in the Santa Barbara channel are always plump and succulent. The clean off-shore raised bivalves are monitored daily to check for dinoflagellates that causes red tides. I find them each Saturday at the Farmer's Market downtown and are quite different from the ones that you can find in the supermarkets.

    1. Two kinds of mussels commonly available in San Diego restaurants - New Zealand Green Lip and PEI's (Prince Edward Island). Green Lips are large, have green shells, are succulent and very flavorful. The PEI's are small black mussels that come from very cold water with a fantastic flavor to them.

      There has been a push lately to use locally farmed mussels in SD restaurants and in my opinion these mussels are far inferior in taste to either the green lip or the PEI. They have a coppery /metallic note that's a real turn off and lack a full, round flavor. This may be what you're running up against. Or, the possibility remains that your mussels have been mishandled and the kitchen is simply pushing them out to get rid of them without taking a loss by discarding them. Mussels right on the edge of quality won't get you sick, but will taste funky.

      Every local shellfish supplier carries PEI's and green lips unless there's some problem at the source, which is unusual. Local mussels are a relatively new development, and the mussels usually come from the Carlsbad power plant's lagoon. As I said, my experiences with these have invariably been subpar.

      Ask the server where their mussels come from, or what type they are. If the answer is PEI's or green lips, go for it. If it's a local product, be a bit more circumspect as the taste is just not as good.

      I rarely order mussels in restaurants anymore. I go to a local fishmonger for my PEI's and steam/cook them up myself. I'm much happier that way.

      2 Replies
      1. re: deckape

        Yep; I just buy them at Costco on the weekends when they have the fresh fish person out in front of the Meat Area.

        1. re: deckape

          You have hit the nail on the head here! I was coming to the same conclusion about making them at home. And now, that I was reminded that Costco makes them available , I will surely do so. Does anyone know, where they get them for the SD outlets?

          But I need the recipe for what to steam them in. It should be easy enough to enjoy a good dish at home. A nice broth should get the job done. Seems as simple as a broth and chopped parsley, but I could be wrong and very eager to learn.

          With a Search, there are over 8400 posts on how to prepare them, etc.

          In the meantime, I would like to know any more SD restaurants, that take their mussels dishes serious with great care and concern?

        2. I think you'd like the moules frites at Currant. Fries are good, garlic/cream broth is good, but Moules Frites is all about the mussels, isn't it? These are probably the best I've had in an SD restaurant in terms of freshness and flavor.

          Blue Water on India St. sometimes has really good local mussels - I've never had them prepared there, but if we're doing a moules mariniere at home, that's where we get our moules.