Chef Robert Wiedmaier, whose popular establishments serve more than 7,500 pounds of mussels per month, is doing his bit for the domestic seafood economy by buying American: as of October 3, by exclusive arrangement with Congressional Seafood, all the mussels served at Wiedmaier’s D.C. area restaurants will be the plump and flavorful Penn Cove Mussels of Puget Sound.
Penn Cove Shellfish Farm, this “new kid on the rocks,” is actually the nation’s largest and oldest commercial mussel farm, and challenges its Canadian competition with what Wiedmaier considers to be the world’s most succulent mussels. He visited the shellfish operation in January of last year with his son, Marcel, and featured its Penn Cove mussels and Mediterranean mussels in his Today Show appearance soon after.
The mussels, farmed in a geographically ideal location off Whidbey Island, two hours north of Seattle, are harvested to order. Wiedmaier’s standing orders will be delivered fresh, three times per week, because, “With a restaurant called Mussel Bar, if we’re going to serve mussels, we need to be serving the ones harvested right here in the U.S. of A.,” says the chef.
At Mussel Bar Bethesda, sample the American upstarts in the Penn Cove Mussel Gratin starter, with Parma Ham, Croutons, and Gruyère Glaçage. They star in the main event in preparations from classic with Roasted Garlic, Shallots, Cream, and Sauvignon Blanc; to spicy Thai with Green Curry, Cilantro, and Basil; to Hoegaarden with Orange Zest, Coriander Spice, Lemon Grass.
Brasserie Beck will serve them with Wild Mushrooms, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, and Truffle Cream; and in a Chapel Hill Farms Veal Bolognese with Crispy Capers, Hard-Boiled Egg, and Parmesan Cheese – among other delectable options.
At Brabo, they’ll shine with Merguez Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Cilantro, and Harissa Aioli.
Even the ultra-refined Marcel’s will get in on the patriotic action, serving the pride of Puget Sound with a Gratin of Mussels with Tomato Fondue, Chorizo Sausage, and Garlic Cream.