The picture above is a bowl of mussels in white wine and garlic herbed broth, a Pale Ale and, yes, tomato catsup/ketchup with the fried frenched potatoes.

The essential, particular aroma and flavor of farmed mussels combines a saline sea-salt and Piscean pungency that find flavor friends in the garlic tang and slightly acidic wine.

What does a Pale Ale bring to the dance? The sweet of the grain embraces the saline sea-salt flavor and the slight bite of the hops makes nice with the garlic and wine.

What about the fried frenched potatoes? Well, first of all 86 the tomato sauce and replace that sweet with the lush richness of mayonnaise. The potato’s nut-like flavor, enhanced by deep frying that caramelized the outer surface, echoes the malted grain flavors and the usual liberal use of salt suits the mussels just fine.

The combination of sweet and salt, with a balance of bitter tang and rich mayo give the flavor receptors a rush of flavor to appreciate. This is where the refreshing cool Pale Ale is most appreciated. It refreshes the palette and gets the flavor receptors time to recognize the complementary flavors and smooth out the flavor spikes.

What if you don’t like garlic?

Well then relax with a sauce Provence, with sweet/sharp tomato sauce, onion and fresh herbs.

The tomato flavors complement and echo the salty sea-tang of the mussels as well as the floral flavors of the hops and the sweet of the malted grain. The onion and herbs set up the lush mayo richness and say hello to the hop as well.

A summer treat? Of course! But many a winter afternoon has been warmed by a bowl of mussels and a pint of bitter…