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"From Fishing to Farmers Markets" & events, issues & ideas

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Weatherfax link for last post
This is the link to the Weatherfax Page which didn't get published in the last post.

California Here We Come
There are about 3,000 tons left on the Northern quota of sardines and soon we will be catching them off of San Francisco. The weather pattern is changing. We consult a weatherfax picture to plan coastal traveling. If you click down to (24Hr Surface VT 00Z (25N-60N, East of 155W), you can see a forecast of the weather up and down the West Coast as well as the western Pacific region in the Aleutians and Hawaii. We also listen to VHF coastal weather reports because some areas, such as Southern Oregon, can develop unusual weather anomalies like a thermal low.
We just learned that Gray Davis of California, just raised all our California boat, skipper and crew licenses by approximately 300%. A crew license will rise from $90.00 to $235.00. That hurts our business!
Our Farmers Market schedule remains the same throughout October. Both markets will end the weekend of November 22nd & 23rd. I am giving up "Seattle Cooks 2003" to keep at the market. I hope our customers will venture outside to our farmers markets in November. It could be an adventure!

Monday, September 22, 2003
Albacore & Sardines off Westport
Captain Steve and our crew of Cannon, Rick, Jonathan, and Angela have been pulling albacore on their way to the schools of sardines which have moved north off of Westport. It is exciting for all! Now I have almost an unexpected ton of beautiful big (25 lb.) fish and the crew have had a chance to earn a little extra money. These albacore are handled in the iki-shibi style where the brain is spiked and the arteries in front of the heart and behind the pectoral fins are cut with a chinuki or drop blood knife. Then the albacore is bled out in slush ice and frozen. A discerning palate can taste the difference even among Pacific Northwest albacore brands. There is more good press about our local albacore in September 9, 2003 issue of the Oregonian. Finally there is an alternative to European albacore.

Monday, September 01, 2003
Sardines and Slow Food

16 Dozen Sardines, gilled & gutted, lay in ziplocks, all iced in two coolers ready for the Slow Food folks in Seattle. My hands were numb from five hours of cleaning these fish on the back deck while Jonathan unloaded the 35 tons of sardines the guys had caught. It was a difficult catch... the fog was down to 100 feet above the water so the spotter planes were doing death defying acts of fog busting in addition to finding fish. Don said he had to plunge through the clouds and then pull up really fast the instant he saw the waves. The schools of sardines had moved North off of Westport which is a long run for the boats back to Astoria.
Steve roundhauled the net and pumped aboard 35 tons on the first set. The second set saw the lead line fold over the corkline near the bunt even though the fish were in the net until the end was let go. It is hearbreaking when a set has plenty of fish to fill the holds, and there is a functional problem with the net. Steve decided to come in. It was blowing NW 25 and the seas pushed them towards the River. The long run in saw them tying up at Anacapa Seafoods at midnight. That's when I slid down the ladder and began dipping 33 degree sardines out of the center hold for "gibbing", which is removing the gills and guts. Sardines which are not cleaned soon after catching become "hot". Their digestive enzymes cause the bellies to burst. I wanted these sardines to be the best quality possible for my friends in Slow Food Seattle.
In one of the coolers were ten plump blue mackerel and a dozen Spanish mackerel to be taken to Felix Custom Smoking for processing into butterflied beauties of smoked fillets. The remaining space was dedicated to the sardines.
Leaving Astoria at 7 am., I grabbed some coffee for the first leg of the trip to Seattle. I hadn't pulled an all nighter in a while...actually since salmon seining in Alaska. Coffee isn't enough. After two naps at Rest Areas, I was at the Swingside Cafe meeting chef Brad, his wife & daughter, and friends. We unloaded the fish into the walk-in refrigerator. With a sigh of relief, contentment with completion of the mission, I drove to our storage locker at Fishermans Terminal to get ready for the Farmers Market on Saturday. Sometimes I wish I was 1,000 miles offshore on the grounds hauling in albacore, one at a time, feeling their fight in my fingers and marveling in the beauty of their pearl and blueblack colors. It was simple and fulfilling.
So what is Slow Food Seattle? The folks in this group enjoy learning, harvesting, and eating local foods when they are in season. They forge relationships with the food producers and basically appreciate efforts like my sardine adventure. Why they even invited me to their Saturday evening feast which featured what else...Pacific sardines; grilled Portuguese style, placed in a soft roll, the heads pulled gently down so the spine and bones pull out of the tender meat in one fell swoop. Add a four handed Beethoven romp on the grand piano, scintillating company, and you have my kind of evening! Thank you Slow Food.

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