I had a magical time in Provence last summer. Not in the least because of the sun, sea and sand, but also because of the food and wine. (Well, it is ME, we’re talking about here.) And out of all the food and wine we had, I loved the mussels the most. Why? Because it was a revelation!
And at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, allow me to explain that one. A few years ago, when I lived in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of dining out twice in one week. That wasn’t unusual for our lifestyle, but that week I had mussels twice. Lovely. What wasn’t lovely was the bout of food poisoning I had after both meals. Yes, you heard it – both meals. So eating mussels hadn’t been high on my agenda for a while. However, when in France, one must eat moules-frites in my opinion, so I knew I had to give it a go. We had nice hotel room and not many plans the next day so I decided to take the risk. How can you not have mussels in Provence?
After a long run in the heat, I was ready for some good food and drink, so after a shower and a fresh change of clothes, we headed out to a simple fish restaurant on the harbour front. The views were lovely. We ordered some house white and two portions of mussels – moules provencale & moules mariniere with a side of frites.
I was so excited when they finally came that I excitedly gobbled a couple and waited to see if I felt ill. Nope, so continue! It got a bit messy and I did manage to splash the creamy mariniere sauce on my top and Rob also managed to knock his wine over on to my skirt. It wasn’t our finest hour. But at least it was white, right?
Then came the motherload… A waiter had been having a bad shift. I had watched him get shouted at by a customer for putting the bill down on the table instead of giving it directly to the customer and the guy was angry because his friend now wanted to pay. This seemed ridiculous to me, to be honest. His anger was totally misdirected. I was translating the whole debacle for Rob when the waiter walked back into the kitchen to try and get back to his work and came flying out with his next order. He took a corner too fast and splat! All in my lap. Hot, oily, tomatoey moules a la provencale all over my white skirt. Brilliant. To be fair to the waiter, he was hugely apologetic and whipped me into the bar to get some hot water to clean it. It was going to take more than that, believe me.
I took it really well. What else can you do? My skirt was already dirty anyway. He comped the wine and brought us a couple of lemon digestifs and I wasn’t ill later. So everyone’s a winner really. At least I’ll never forget the first time that I had mussels in Provence!
Interested in where we were? It doesn’t have the highest rating on TripAdvisor at the moment, but you can’t beat the service, views and the food for a simple lunch, so go ahead and give it a try!
5 Quai Jean Jacques Barthélémy,
Tel: +33 4 42 01 71 56