Category Archives: Seafood

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Off the Wagon

More than 95% of my meals are eaten at home, and more than 95% of my food is sourced from local farmers.  But when I do “fall off the wagon,” I like to do it right. 

My latest culinary binge took place at Rosarito Fish Shack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC.  I had octopus wrapped in bacon on a brioche roll topped with cole slaw.  It was so worth it.  

Off the Wagon

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Less Can be More

Once upon a time, I would spend days preparing a dinner for friends.  A typical meal at my home included six courses served on my great-great grandmother’s bone china, and could take three hours to eat.  I spent more time working in the kitchen during dinner than I spent with my guests at the table.

When I moved from a single-family home in Chicago to a small New York City apartment, I left my heirloom china behind in my brother’s custodial care for my niece. As a result, my friends  now enjoy eating simpler dinners in my home, and I enjoy having more time to spend with them during the meals. 

The focus of a meal is no longer on the culinary skills I worked so hard to acquire and perfect.  Instead, our attention is on the incomparable produce and heirloom grains grown by local farmers, and the fresh fish or succulent piece of meat sold to me that morning by a local fisherman or rancher.  After all, a good cook without talented and dedicated farmers is like a writer without an alphabet.

It took me years of study and decades of practice, but I now understand that — more often than not — less can be more.

Swordfish & Sorrel Sauce

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Smoked Trout & Potato Salad

Every Wednesday, “Dave the Trout Fisherman” is at the Union Square Greenmarket.  He has the relaxed and optimistic attitude of a man who spends six days a week fishing for, and smoking, rainbow trout, so chatting with him is always a pleasure.  But eating his smoked trout is an even greater pleasure, and I’m sure he’d have it no other way.

Smoked Trout & Potato Salad

Blue Crabs

Before these feisty creatures are cooked, their shells are a beautiful shade of blue for which they are aptly named.  Though even the fisherwoman who sold this batch of blue crabs to me declared them “tedious” to eat ― a description with which I really can’t argue ― the experience makes for an adventurous afternoon, and one that I recommend everyone try at least once.  It will make you wonder why you ever wasted a moment eating lobster.

Blue Crabs

Steamed Mussels

I learned to love eating mussels during a trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada, where we would sit by the water and eat them by the bowl full.  But I learned to love cooking mussels in my own apartment when I returned to New York City and discovered that I could buy them from my fishermen at the farmers market.   I call it the five-minute meal: a big pot with some chopped onion or shallot, some chopped garlic, a little chopped parsley, a couple of lemon wedges, and two or three pounds of mussels; then add just enough white wine to make Julia Child happy and cover the pot.  Steam them for about 5 minutes or just until the shells pop open. Serve them with some pasta or crusty bread or, better yet, both.  You can thank me later.

Steamed Mussels