June 29, 2009

A Surprise Gem in the East Village

I was at a great French restaurant in the East Village this past weekend, Resto Leon. It's a cozy French bistro on E. 12th Street (between 1st & 2nd). Not only does this place have a great vibe, but the staff is an absolute dream. Bartending and waiting tables for 5 years, it's always a great feeling to come across such wonderful people. Look out for Stephanie and Isabel. They are a delight! If you've been to Felix in SoHo, you'll fall in love with this place. It's not as crazy, but after 3 very good Manhattans, it felt just the same.

On to the food! The mussels in white wine, shallots, and thyme were fantastic. Served with French fries, this is the perfect amount of food for two people. Of course there was steak frites on the menu. Served in a wilted spinach and bordelaise sauce, the response from the group was a very positive one. Escargot, being one of my favorite dishes, served with garlic, parsley, & anise butter does the trick! The rest of the menu is a great mix of the standards: Roasted chicken, salad verte, and a crabcake made with peekytoe crab & smoked trout.

This got me thinking of a mussel dish I made this past Easter. It's mussels with chorizo and cilantro. These are two giant flavors I grew up with. It takes no time to make and is just as good as what you would get in a restaurant. Hope you enjoy it.

Mussels with Cilantro & Chorizo

2 pounds of mussels
1 large onion
1 pound of chorizo
1 cup of chopped cilantro
1/2 bottle of dry white wine (chardonnay)
Olive oil
French bread

Remove the casing from the chorizo break it up. Brown for about 5 minutes in a large pot. Take it out and set aside. Add in the sliced onion to the same pot and cook in the chorizo's brown bits. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes until they are translucent. Add add a little olive oil if there is not enough fat in the pan to cook the onions in. (add S&P at this point) Throw the chorizo back in and add the mussels and white wine. Cook uncovered for about a minute and the cover until the mussels all open up (should be about 6-7 minutes) Add in the cilantro in the end.

Serve this with crusty bread and you are all set!

  • Cleaning mussels: Rinse them and scrub with a moist towel. Discard ones that are open (these are no good)
  • Add as much or as little of the cilantro as you want. I like to use a lot of it. It adds such great freshness to the dish.
  • Garlic is also optional, if you have it, use it! (3 cloves sliced)
  • Don't cook with wine you would not drink. (Drink the other half of the unused bottle)