After a wonderful time in Berlin, which I will have to tell you all about later, I am now in Sweden.
For the past two years, I have worked with a wonderfully talented assistant named Annika.
She and her husband are from Sweden but have lived all over the world for the last 15 years. This summer, she and her family are moving back home to settle in Sweden for good.
Being the generous and kind person that she is, Annika invited me to her family home in Sweden. So here I am, and I am loving it!
Yesterday was quite momentous. For two years, Annika has talked about the delicious fresh muscles in Sweden and all of the wonderful ways to cook them.
Picking muscles has since been a priority on my list of Swedish things to do.
Yesterday afternoon, Annika’s two boys taught me the ropes.
Equipment needed to pick muscles
- Thick rubber gloves
- Large bucket
- Plastic straining basket
- Swimming confidence
First one must swim out to a cliff side where muscles are living.
The cliff we picked from was a bit like a cave. The muscles lived under a ledge so we had to swim out, under, in, back out, then up again.
When I say “we” I mean the boys of the village. I had all necessary equipment except for swimming confidence.
Let’s just say that the idea of swimming under a ledge really freaked me out to the point where I started to hyperventilate so I spent the whole muscle picking experience as the designated basket holder/ basket case.
After picking the first couple of muscles, someone has to run up to the grill and toss them on the heat to check if the muscle colony is alive. If the muscle shells split open, then the colony is living, if they stay closed, then they are dead and you would need to find a new spot to pick from.
Luckily, our muscles were alive and well so the boys kept picking.
In total, they picked 125 muscles in probably 20 minutes.
Once we picked all the muscles we wanted, the muscles were put into the bucket with sea water.
With a very sharp knife, all barnacles and sea growth were cut away.
The Swedes call the barnacles “sea roses” because they cut like thorns. The one time I tried to go down into the underwater cave, I scraped my gloveless hand across the side of the ledge and sliced it into hundreds of little but deep cuts. In the salt water, this was very painful.
Anyways, back to the cleaning of the muscles. So we cut away the junk then put the muscles back into a fresh bucket of seawater until it was time to cook them.
We were invited to dinner at one of the most beautiful homes in Annika’s village.
The family is from Sweden but lives in Germany. The sea-side mansion is their summer residence.
The mother and 3 of her kids were there.
Her two sons and Annika’s two were in charge of grilling the muscles.
Once the grill was hot, they tossed the muscles on.
As they started to split open, the boys spooned melted garlic butter into the open shells and continued to grill the muscles until the flesh turned a salmon color.
Our view was absolutely stunning.
Our dinner was absolutely delicious.
Grilled muscles with garlic butter
Muscles cooked in a butter, onion, garlic, parsley broth
Mixed green salad
Tomato salad with feta cheese
Grilled marinated Hallomi
I have never tasted the sea in my seafood… until today. So fresh and divine!
The meal was made even better by the wonderful conversation and beautiful view of the sun setting beyond the harbour.
After a picturesque evening, I left feeling absolutely content and happy to be right where I was at that moment.
Life is good.
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