Just after Christmas the fabulous Isabella Niehaus stopped at my door with the most amazing gift – two kilograms of plump West Coast mussels, so fresh I figured they’d still been clinging to a rock that very morning. Isabella is one of my local food heroes. The meals she serves at the long table in her gorgeous Langebaan home overlooking the ocean are the stuff of legend. She is an exceptional cook, and man does she know what to do with seafood. Her 5-course long table Sunday lunches (that anyone can join) regularly feature ocean delights like oysters, mussels and fish done on the braai.
And now Isabella has decided to share some of her seafood secrets with us, in the form of a new mini digital cookbook focusing exclusively on mussels. This is Isabella’s second foray into the world of cookbooks. Her first one, Duinhuis, (meaning dune house) was published in Afrikaans and won the best cookbook award in the 2020 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. As I said, the woman can cook!
She says you should serve this oven roasted mussel dish with crusty bread. I love tomato bruschetta, so I went a step further and made crostini by toasting slices of crisp baguette, drizzling them with olive oil and rubbing them with garlic. Isabella had also popped a bottle of Du Toitskloof single vineyard Old Vine Sauvignon Blanc in my surprise parcel. This is small batch stuff, my bottle hand-labeled as #1490 of 4000. Crisp with lovely expressive fruit on the nose and just a hint of minerality, it was the perfect match for the briny mussels. Do hop on over to Bella’s new site and get a copy of Isabella’s Mussel Feast.