Subtly smoky from a wood-infused fire and lightly spiced, mussels grilled on the half-shell might be spring’s easiest and most appealing appetizer (or, say, Tuesday night dinner). Like oysters, mussels can either be cooked in their shell (steamed and/or heated until they sputter open), or opened raw and fired in a half-shell. The latter is perfectly suited for the grill, and couldn’t be easier to prepare; just add a drizzle of oil and a pinch of seasoning (obviously we’re biased here, and think Fish Monger is the bomb). The prep is easy and fun, you can enlist a few friends or kids to help open the glossy black mussels. The actual cooking process won’t take more than a few minutes, so before you place the mussels on the fire, make sure the table is set, crackly bread and butter, and a cold rosé from the South of France or crisp Pilsner are at the ready.

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Paula: As the temperatures begin to climb in Texas, my thoughts turn to seasonal vegetables, and the best way to prepare them on the grill. Ratatouille, the fragrant vegetable dish that’s the pride of Provence (and yes, a Pixar film), always leaps to mind. The secret to making this dish sing is cooking each vegetable on its own, and taking your time. Caramelizing sweet onions, slow simmering the tomato mixture, and grill-roasting fleshy sweet peppers over a wood-infused fire delivers a subtle smokiness and concentrated flavors--the essence of each vegetable. Fragrant with Mediterranean herbs and a touch of heat, Fish Monger, our seafood blend, is an easy ally with this mix of veggies (you might also shake it on a big piece of grouper, as I did, for the main event).

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On a recent Friday, I found myself restless and in need of inspiration. Blame it on a full year of relative quarantine, or the recent ice storm that brought Austin to a screeching halt. Either way, I needed to break out of my daily orbit and see something, anything, new. So, I swung by Salt & Time, an upscale butcher shop, salumeria and restaurant that features fresh cut meat from sustainable Texas ranches (bonus: they were also selling fresh produce, and many of the grocery stores were wiped out after the storm).

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In this recipe, a few easy steps elevate grilled beef patties from great, to Holy Garlic! First, the outside of the burgers are generously seasoned in Holy Garlic (think garlic salt, with a lot more depth and dazzle), of our newest spice blends. To echo that lusty flavor, whisk together a quick aioli, or garlic mayonnaise, spiked with lemon zest and black pepper. The rest of the burger can come together as you please, but you can’t go wrong with toasted buns, lettuce (or your favorite greens), and crisp, tangy pickles or pickled peppers.

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