Monday, March 14, 2005


Mussels with Prosciutto and Sherry


I went this past weekend with my most adorable friend/partner in crime, The Ombudsman, on a long and strange field trip in search of desert wild flowers. Early in the day, thanks to his eagle eye spotting of a road side sign, we stopped at one of the last wineries in Los Angeles, the family owned Joseph Filippi. They are located off the beautiful (that's a joke) Golden State (5) Freeway in Rancho Cucamonga, and have been growing grapes there (quite impressively, considering the value of the land) for the last 81 years.

The gorgeous building where they sell wine and have tastings (and lots of great events) is more than 100 years old and is worth the trip itself. For five dollars they offer a five glass wine tasting, (and you keep the etched wine glass) of any of the 26 wines they make. While some were less than stellar (the 2002 Sangiovese. Yikes.) some were absolutely a dream. The woman who poured the wine was incredibly sweet and knowledgeable answering all of our questions and making terrific suggestions. (And she pours with a heavy hand! Whoo-hoo!) We particularly enjoyed the 2002 Zinfindel, ($15) which had a medium body and aromas of dark berries and spice, and was fully drinkable. The winery is also well known for their Sherry and we loved the Oloroso, ($24) which was a deep amber color, rich and nutty but very smooth and dry. A winner indeed.

The wines that they make are apparently available from the Wine Club of Orange County, but 85% of their bottles are sold directly to restaurants. So if you see J. Filippi listed next time you are out, I suggest ordering a bottle. They make lovely wine, and I am always in favor of supporting small, family owned businesses.

Searching through my recipes, I noticed Sherry is hardly ever used in recipes other than for desserts. This is one way to use it in a savory dish. Enjoy!

2 lbs mussels, cleaned
3 teaspoons best quality olive oil
½ brown onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
5 thin slices prosciutto, diced (or if you have access to it use, Spanish jambon)
¾ cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons sherry

Over medium high heat, in a large pot with a lid, cook the onion (uncovered) and celery in the oil until the onions are soft (about three minutes). Add the prosciutto, wine and sherry and bring to the boil. Add the mussels and cover. Let boil for one minute, shaking the pan once or twice to distribute the mussels, then when all the mussels have opened (discard any which don’t open) remove and serve.

Serves four


A wine barrel maker is called a Coopersmith
Sherry is a wine which has been fortified with brandy
The primary grape used in making sherry wine is the Palomino fino grape

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