Fishing For Seafood Steals in the Wild West
A few weeks ago, my chef Jeff Baruch, my manager Mark Connery and I took a trip out West to source seafood for this week’s CrabFest. In addition to sampling delicious Dungeness Crab and visiting several restaurants to get new preparation ideas, we held some of the freshest fish we’ve ever touched, saw how mussels are farmed on Whidbey Island and watched the experts shuck oysters by hand at Wilpa Bay.
After landing in Portland Oregon, we headed over to Salty’s Crabhouse and dined on some great Dungeness Crab while over looking the Columbia River, and then headed to our first stop, Seattle, Washington, where we took in the sights and sounds of the city.
Early the next day, we jumped on a ferry to nearby Whidbey Island to visit Penn Cove Mussel Farm. There we saw the rafts where their mussels are harvested, practically sinking with the weight of fresh mussels. It turns out these rafts are also a favorite sunbathing spot for local sea lions.
Then it was back down to Seattle and dinner at Elliot’s where they had a great selection of West Coast oysters, we tried them all! Afterward, we headed off to Zigg Zaggs bar at the suggestion of the restaurant staff. Zigg Zaggs’ bartender, Murray, was something else! We found out early that he didn’t take drink orders, only suggestions. We told him what we liked and he concocted the freshest, most delicious cocktails we have ever had. He had at least ten different types of homemade bitters and the biggest collection of liquor any of us had ever seen.
Next, we headed over to South Bend on Wilpa Bay to visit Coast Seafood in Washington, an oyster shucking plant. The day we visited, there were only 30 guys on the shucking line, but during the busy season there are up to 128 guys shucking at once. It is really a site to see!
Last, we headed to Astoria, Oregon to visit Bornstein Fisheries, a fish processing plant at the mouth of the Columbia River, here we saw fish coming directly off the boats and being processed for shipping all over the country and Asia.
With some time to kill we wandered over to Fish Hawk Fishery where we met Steve Fick, a 35 year veteran of salmon fishing. We held a 22lb King Salmon that was so fresh we wanted to eat it on the spot. Steve invited us back next Spring for a trip on one of his boats to see how the salmon are caught.
Then it was back to Rego Park, Queens, but not without a few shipments of our newfound treasures following close behind.
Come visit us for CrabFest through November 8th and have a taste for yourself.