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BORDEN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA - MARCH 25: Bags of mussels sit in a box as they are processed and prepared for shipping at the Confederation Cove Mussel co. March 25, 2008 in Borden, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The cultured mussels are grown in mesh stockings that are suspended from ropes in the water. These ropes are anchored at the bottom and suspended from a buoy. During the winter months Confederation Cove Mussel co. cuts through the ice to retrieve the mussels. Prince Edward Island produces 80 percent of North America's cultured mussels. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

When it comes to a bowl of mussels, the quality and originality of the sauce is almost more important than the crustacean!

A Portrait Of The Cornish Shellfish Industry

(Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)

Usually there are two kinds of “broths” if you will, when it comes to a steaming bowl of mussels. Firstly, the traditional tomato based sauce. It’s usually either mild or spicy “Fra Dibablo” style. Then there is the “Other” sauce as I called it for years, before I ventured to try it a couple of years ago. That’s right, I spend over 40 years eating mussels before I ever tried them the French. Garlic and White Wine style. Now? I love it just as much!

High Temperatures Hit Melbourne

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Both sauce styles have variations. Especially the garlic and white wine. Some are clear and thin. Others are thick and almost creamy. Furthermore, depending on the place, you may get a garlic forward bowl of broth – which I personally love (with bits of garlic sticking to the mussels themselves). Or, you could get a very buttery or white wine forward dish.

Personally, when it comes to the tomato based sauce, I waver. One day I might be in the mood for a very spicy dish. On the other hand, I may opt for a very sweet sauce if I’m not feeling the heat that day. One thing is for sure, it’s not a good mussels dish without the garlic. Gotta have that smell of the ocean and the clove hitting your nose all at once.

Los Angeles Times Food Bowl Presents: Night Market

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for Los Angeles Times Food Bowl)

That’s one of the great things about an order of mussels. Much like the crustacean, the orders multiply quickly. At least once the aroma of the dish coming to table hits the air! Next thing you know it’s mussels all around!! PEI (Prince Edward Island) are the most popular around here. However, honestly, it’s not an oyster. It’s a mussel, as long as it’s fresh, and sauce is bangin’, I’ don’t care if you fished it out of Raritan Bay. Well, maybe I’m not that smart. I’m just a Mussel Head.

I don’t want to be shellfish, so here are some of my favorite places for Mussels in Ocean County…In no particular order!

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