They are a special kind of mussel, I have not seen before. They come from the coast of the Normandy and Bretagne. They are large ones, when they are super fresh can be eaten raw. I bought some here the local supermarket and they have to be cooked. Many recipes advice to cook and gratiner them.
I was looking for a simple dish without so much fuss, I wanted to eat them after my cathedral trip to Senlis in the morning. And using the temperamental oven was not something to look forward to.
Finally the armandes de mer went into a simple dish of "spaghetti vongole".
8 armandes de mer per person
1/2 bulb of fennel
60 g spaghetti per person
2 cloves of garlic
50 g goat cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
100 ml white wine
50 ml sweet white wine
salt and pepper
In a bowl with cold water soak the mussels for 30 minutes
Cook the pasta.
Chop onions, garlic and fennel.
In a wide pan with a lid in 1 tbsp of oil start half of the onion, garlic mix together will all of the fennel. Saute until soft, add some water and season with salt, pepper and chili. Remove from the pan and mix with the cooked pasta.
Use the same pan and heat up the rest of the oil with the other half of onions and garlic. Add the wines and bring to a boil.
Chuck in the mussels and close the lid. Cook for 2 minutes. Get the mussels out and keep half of the liquid.
Add the chopped or grated cheese to the liquid and start melting it, add the butter and the pasta and fennel mix. Get the lid off the mussels and get them in the pan too, they will need another 2 minutes to soften completely.
Add fennel fonds and chives.