In France there is a custom of drinking a toast to the first of the season produce, like welcoming back an old friend. When I sit down to a heaping plate sautéed ramps, morels, asparagus or certainly soft shell crabs, I certainly take a pause in appreciation.
This week in a NY Times article: a few Brooklynites clear up a bad rap given to anchovies.
On the third day of my fellowship with Browne Trading Company I was given the opportunity to stage at Hugo’s restaurant. Chef Rob Evans has received high reviews and won multiple awards putting Hugo’s high on the desired dining experiences in Portland, Maine. When I arrived at the kitchen I was expecting to be put in a corner to watch the kitchen flow and get teased by the aromas whisping around me. However, head chef Andrew Taylor and his crew were very enthused to have me and had me help out with multiple prep tasks and gave me floor to ask as many questions as they arose. During dinner service I was treated as part of the crew as I helped garnish plates for a chef’s tasting dinner for about 20 patrons. The cuisine at Hugo’s features local and regional ingredients combined and used in creative ways with the aid of modern technique. Thanks again to chef Rob Evans, Chef Andrew Taylor and the crew for letting me hang out and even taste a few things.
Part of what makes fish and seafood a threatened food source are irresponsible and environment threatening catching methods. What’s worse is we as the consumer have a difficult time finding out or trusting how certain fish were caught that we purchase or eat at restaurants. Things that we should be concerned about when understanding fishing methods are bycatch (other species unintentionally caught and sometimes killed), disturbance of the ocean floor and overfishing.
Here are the main ways fish are caught:
-Click on each to read more-
(pictures and descriptions from Monterey Bay Aquarium)
Wild ramps are perhaps the first sign of the bountiful local produce season here in New England. For those who are unfamiliar, ramps are very similar to scallions but have a leafy green top with purple stalks and more of a garlic spice and scent. They grow wild throughout damp and wooded areas and usually are around till early summer (they become overgrown and their stalks become tough). Similar to scallions, they are very versatile to eating the leaves raw in a salad, to grilling, blanching, pureeing, and roasting. Just when I thought I’d seen every ramp preparation, a new season starts and a few hundred more are discovered. Last year a few memorable ramp preparations were ramp compound butter (awesome over poached or grilled fish), pickled ramp caviar (served alongside albacore tuna rillettes), grilled squid with ramps and potato ramp soup.