Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Weekend of Seafood

The ocean is beautiful, and still I am happy that I moved away from the ocean. Because as I was driving yesterday to Bodega Bay, the temperature was dropping almost every mile, and when I finally got there, it was 60F and foggy. An experienced Californian always has a sweater and a jacket in the trunk, even on a hottest summer day (especially on a hot summer day, because this is when the fog may come from the ocean any moment). So I put on both, and proceeded on my quest to find a good place to buy seafood.

There are a couple of places right on Rt. 1 - the Tides, that is a total tourist trap, giftshop and all, and Lucas', pretty touristy too. Behind Lucas' restaurant, however, there is a little fish shop, where an impressive-looking fishmonger is doing magic, filleting rockfish, just off the boat, in one precise movement, with his bare hands and a serious knife. I didn't let him perform much of the magic on mine - just scale it. I don't know why I didn't have him gut it and cut off the sharp fins, somehow I got an idea that if I bring it home whole, it will stay fresher. So the idiot cat had to get out her kevlar glove and gut her own fish. Which means that tripple-wrapped fish guts will have to stay in my garbage till Thursday. May be I should get them out and freeze them, but I just don't feel like diving in the garbage on a nice day like this...

All good, but I still have to find a real seafood place, like El Granada marina, where, when on thye Peninsula, I would buy crab and fish off the boat. So I go into the marina, and between the docks and a trailer park, there is what I'm looking for - a shack with a proud name of Pacific Seafood Co., and crates of Dungeness and oysters next to it. The idiot cat, like a very rich woman, doesn't carry cash, and Pacific Seafood is cash-only. After searching through the purse and the car, I come up with $11, and this is exactly how much is a dozen of medium oysters from Washington state. The water is always cold in Washington, so the oyster season never ends.

My dear friend and drinking buddy KY loves oysters as much as I do, so we had to somehow divide a mere dozen of oysters between the two of us. Luckily, the oysters were relatively big, so there was no fighting.

Oysters first, then the fish had to be squeezed into the well-oiled fish basket, it's gut replaced with all the herbs I could get from the garden - fennel, rosemary, thyme, and parsley - and a quartered lemon, and grilled for some 17 minutes. It still managed to stick to the basket, but you know what, I don't eat the skin anyway.
Cognac for desert.
So this morning I went to the market, looking what's good for a hangover. What I found was sashimi-grade toro (tuna belly) and excellent sea scallops. They also had live lobster, it flies all the way from East Coast of Canada, but I have to pick up the FatCat™ from the airport tonight, and after all these exhausting hours on the plane he may not appreciate it if I show up in SFO with a live lobster that needs to be cooked right away. So I had to pass it, praying that they have it again next week.

Toro I just sliced on the diagonal and ate with some soy sauce and wasabi. God, I made enough wasabi to last me till the next year! I made a whole teaspoon of wasabi!

The scallops I sliced thinly and marinated for 30 minutes in this sauce: juice and rind of one orange (love my microplane zester), 1/4 red onion, minced, 1/4 tsp panca chili paste, a few chives and parsley sprigs, salt and pepper. A hangover can feel good. I ate the scallops first, and then drunk the sauce.

This is how right I was about the FatCat™'s ideas on a happy homecoming after a 14-hour flight: straight from the airport we went to where? - Trader Vic's, of course, and it looks like my man was even happier to see our favorite bartender than anything else in California, including this little food blogger.

Here they are: Trader Vic's fried rolls, and bacon-wrapped shrimps with mango-pineapple sauce. The European traveller had to agree that although all Europe goes to Brussels for dinner and it's worth it, we have some food in California too.


francesca said...

It's nice to read new information about food, coming from a place where I lived some years ago. I miss San Francisco and the Bay area.

amarillo said...

Francesca - I think that SF is one of the best food places in the whole country!