Monday, March 31, 2014

Willy Wonka Week and Sake Gelato

Sake flavored gelato?

Yes, I have created such an intriguing flavor and it will soon be available for a very limited time. Read on, and I'll provide all the details.

First, you need to join Pazzo Gelato Café, located in North Andover, for a whimsical week dedicated to the music makers and the dreamers of dreams. Jim Demotses, owner of Pazzo Gelato is hosting Willy Wonka Week from April 6 to 12, in celebration of the inspiring story that helped start his business- after all invention "is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation and 2% butterscotch ripple."  Jim stated, “When I opened Pazzo Gelato I had Willy Wonka’s magical factory in mind. The classic movie inspired the colorful and somewhat delicious walls of my shop - proof that anything is possible!

Last year, when I reviewed Pazzo, I noted Jim's inspiration from Will Wonka, and I also raved about the quality of his gelato. The various flavors possessed a bright, fresh and natural taste.

During Willy Wonka Week, Jim will create some exclusive flavors, which will only be available during that week, as an ode to the dreamers who enter his ‘factory.’ Those flavors include:

Snozberry Sorbet: In Italian "fruto de bosco" (fruit of the woods) strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry
Everlasting Gobstopper: Trio of guava, passion fruit and blood orange sorbets
The Classic Wonka Bar: Coffee Gelato with chunks of Dark chocolate and caramel milk chocolate and Teddy Graham cookies
Scrumdiddlyumptious: Vanilla Mint milk chocolate, toffee pieces, peanuts, cookie pieces
Augustus: Mocha Chip
The Bad Egg: Zabaione Marsala gelato
Television Chocolate: Chocolate gelato with sprinkles & cookies and cream
Umpa Lumpa: Cara Cara Orange Sorbet with chocolate Straciatella
Fizzy Lifting Gelato: Peach sorbet with Prosecco

Besides these flavors, a few lucky people received Purple Tickets, which allows them to create their own exclusive flavor to be showcased during Wonka Week. I was fortunate to receive one of those Purple Tickets so get to create my own gelato flavor, and I knew it had to be Sake-related. I'll be calling it "Tipsy Sensei," and it will be made with Nigori Sake, Coconut and Yuzu. I hope that flavor appeals to you and I look forward to its creation. Stop by Pazzo and come taste some Tipsy Sensei!

In addition, though Pazzo can’t promise participants a lifetime supply of gelato- they’re offering 365 days’ worth. Each day during Willy Wonka Week one lucky child will win The Ultimate Purple Ticket awarding them one year of FREE gelato.

Rejoice at the fun and flavor that lies ahead during Willy Wonka Week. After all, “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted. He lived happily ever after

Rant: Restaurant Intimidation?

Last week, I dined at Ribelle, a restaurant that a famous food writer recently criticized, stating: "I left there feeling brow-beaten." He felt intimidated and bullied by the restaurant? GQ writer, Alan Richman, opposes what he labels as "egotarian cuisine," where chefs allegedly cook for their own desires rather than that of their customer. These chefs combine seemingly disparate ingredients, and Richman believes this leads to failure more often than not.

In his article, Richman bashed several restaurants, including Ribelle, a relatively new restaurant in Brookline owned by Chef Tim Maslow. He stated: "I ordered one dish after another, idiotically hoping the food would get better." Locally, Ribelle has garnered many raves and accolades for its cuisine. Boston Globe writer Devra First reviewed Ribelle, awarding it four stars, only the second restaurant she has awarded such a high rating. It was also selected as the Globe's Restaurant of the Year. When I spoke to a number of my food friends about the restaurant, I heard plenty of raves, and really no complaints.

Would I fall on Richman's side, or those locals who loved Ribelle? Would I feel intimidated by the restaurant? At the very least, I didn't expect to feel brow-beaten.

Frankly, I don't understand how Richman could have felt intimidated by Ribelle, or why he had such disdain for its cuisine. Accompanied by my good friend Adam Japko, we ordered the Pieno di Degustazione, a 9 course tasting menu priced at $89. I agree with Richman that some of the ingredient combinations on the menu seem unusual, that they are not the norm at many restaurants. However, where Richman uses this as a basis of his criticism, I see it more as an exercise of the chef's creativity and inventiveness. Just because a combination of ingredients hasn't been done before doesn't mean it doesn't work well together. The test of this creativity is always the taste, and I believe Chef Maslow has succeeded.

For both Adam and I, Ribelle impressed, and we felt that it was one of the best meals we had tasted in the Boston area. I think the combinations of each dish generally worked very well together. For example, the Sweetbreads, Coppa, Sage Brown Butter and Celery Root was sublime, simply amazing from the first bite to the last. It is the type of dish I would want to order every time I dined at Ribelle because it was so fantastic.

The pasta dishes, from the Mafalde to the Agnolotti del Plin also were excellent, and I would love to try their pasta tasting menu. Even the Salsify, Black Truffle, Onion, Fennel and Trout Roe (a more unique combination) was delicious.

To me, all of the dishes signified a chef that knew what he was doing, a creative soul who could bring great taste to life in unique new ways. Is the chef cooking in part to please himself? Sure, as I feel it is a personal challenge of the chef to blend such seemingly disparate ingredients into a delicious dish. However, the chef also knows that he must please his customers or his restaurant will fail. And in this case, the chef succeeds on both levels. Did I feel brow-beaten? Not in the least.

There was nothing all all that seemed intimidating. I felt it possessed a more casual, neighborhood feel, with a welcoming ambiance due in part to its open kitchen and communal seating. The servers were all personable and attentive. Did Richman dine at a different restaurant? I just don't understand his criticisms.

So who do you trust? A writer for a national magazine, or local food writers? Have you felt intimidated by Ribelle? Or are you one of the fans of this restaurant, someone who will return time and time again to sample its tasty cuisine?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting wine and food items that are upcoming. **********************************************************
1) On Friday, March 28, Moksa will celebrate its two year anniversary by recreating an Asian Street Market in its live entertainment venue, Naga. From 6pm-9pm, guests will be transported abroad as the restaurant serves fare at individual stations with paired cocktails that echo the regional influences on the restaurant’s menu. For $20 per person, guests can peruse the “street market” featuring stations serving Indian, Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Mixologist Noon Summers has selected four regional pairings to compliment the four dish options. As guests walk around Naga they can select a cocktail like the Mumbai Cup for pairing with the Pani Poori, puffy bread, chickpea salad and tamarind water at the Indian station. The Bangkok Dangerous will be available as a suggested pairing for guests who select Thailand’s Green Papaya and Mango Salad, and the Sakura Cobbler cocktail will be served as a pairing to the Japanese station’s Yakitori, scallions and soy marinade. Last but not least, the China Sea cocktail is the perfect complement to the Chinese Street Noodle selection.

The $20 ticket (tax and gratuity not included) includes two drink and two food tickets. Options will be available a la carte for $5 per food item and $8 per featured cocktail. Additional cocktails will be available for purchase at the cash bar and regular food menu will also available. Space is limited and reservations can be made online by visiting

Pani Poori. (Indian puffy bread, chickpea salad, tamarind water)
Mumbai Cup Cocktail (Tamarind water, Vodka & lambise Ginger)
Green papaya & mango salad
Bangkok Dangerous (Hendrick's, Chartruese, lime, ginger lambise)
Yakitori (Scallions and soy marinade)
Sakura Cobbler (Rhubarb, ume gastrique, vodka, lemon)
Street noodles
China Sea (Tequila, lemon honey, curacao)

2) On Friday, March 28th, Chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O'Leary will combine culinary forces to deliver "The Future of Junk Food," a unique culinary pop-up experience designed to re-imagine and challenge the "Junk Food" concept. Created in partnership with Kitchensurfing, the online marketplace where chefs connect with the world to sell their skills, goods and services, this seven-course pop up dinner will recreate some of the most iconic and beloved junk food favorites in an entirely culinary-driven fashion. An emphasis will be on creating food with whole, nutrient-dense ingredients rather than the preservatives, additives and other toxic ingredients found in junk food.

Monsour and O'Leary hope their unique perspective will speak not only to diners but also to large food manufacturers by challenging them to embrace and implement locally sourced, sustainable ingredients into their products, snack foods and traditional junk food fare. "In creating this dining series, Mark and I are passionate in helping people to understand that sustainable and nutritious dining options do not have to be reserved to special occasions or upscale farm to table dining experiences," says Monsour. "It can be approachable, fun and most importantly - healthy and delicious. We are re-introducing you to foods you know and love to eat."

Equally as unique as the concept will be its setting, an intimate and opulent "bar within a bar" known as the Ruby Bar hidden within the Emerald Lounge in Revere Hotel Boston Common. The dinner is the first in a six-part pop up series, taking place throughout the year. Each dinner will feature a seven-course tasting of "junk-food" inspired dishes prepared by the two chefs, alongside cocktails created by Emerald’s resident bar manager, Teodora Bakardzhieva.

Each seating will accommodate 12 people with prices set at $125 per person. The event series showcases the Kitchensurfing model of connecting chefs directly with active diners while allowing chefs a creative outlet to try new endeavors.

WHEN: Friday, March 28th - two seatings will be offered at 6pm and 9pm. The forthcoming pop-up dinners are scheduled for May 9th, June 20th, August 1st, September 12th and October 24th.

COST: Tickets are $125 per person and include a seven-course menu and cocktail pairings. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event at

**This event is a 21+ event**

3) On April 17, at 6:30pm, Legal Harborside will team up with Alejandro “Nano” Mitarakis, Brand Manager of Emiliana Organic Vinyeards, for a four-plus-course wine dinner. With multiple vineyards spanning throughout Chile’s most prestigious wine valleys, Emiliana focuses on a single concept: Excellence. To meet the new need of today’s conscious consumers, all wines are 100% organic and biodynamic with the objective of maintaining the highest quality while upholding respect for environmental, health and social impacts. After more than a decade, Emiliana’s portfolios of expressive and full-flavored wines are backed by major national and international awards and recognition.

The menu will be presented as follows:

"Shrimp & Grits" - grilled shrimp, chili, roasted corn cake
Razor Clam Ceviche - yuzu, fava beans, radishes
Sumac-Rubbed Lamb Loin - naan crostini, apricot chutney, harissa crema
Grilled Octopus - spring onion, piquillo pepper, green garlic & chimichurri
Emiliana "Novas" Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio Valley, 2012
Hamachi (edamame emulsion, green grapes, pea tendrils, serrano chili & ginger-infused verjus)
Emiliana "Natura" Un-oaked Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, 2012
Striped Bass (bacon dashi, pork belly dumpling, miso caramel glaze, grilled plums, scallions)
Emiliana "Novas" Gran Reserva Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, 2012
Emiliana "Natura" Malbec, Rapel Valley, 2012
Roasted Hanger Steak (guajillo chili sauce, charred tomatillo, grilled leeks, black garlic purée)
Emiliana "Coyam," Colchagua Valley, 2010 (Syrah, Carmenère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Malbec blend)
Tarentaise Vermont Alpine Cheese (chocolate brioche, pickled cherries & candied ginger)
Emiliana "Gê," Colchagua Valley, 2009 (Syrah, Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon blend)

COST: $95 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9470

4) The Living Room invites guests to the April edition of their monthly dinner series highlighting new Executive Chef Andreas Edlbauer’s expansive knowledge of global cuisine. Travel to Southeast Asia during the second installation of the Living Room’s Global Cuisine Series, designed to explore the diverse flavors and foodways highlighted on The Living Room’s new global comfort cuisine menu by exploring a different international cuisine each month.

This April, guests will enjoy a taste of Southeast Asia with Chef Edlbauer’s special three course menu of authentic Vietnamese fare. The dinner is $50 per person and includes an amuse bouche and three courses of fresh, seasonal Vietnamese cuisine. Dinner will be served at an intimate communal table, allowing guests to share this unique and tantalizing culinary experience with one another. The menu includes:

Amuse Bouche
Chao Tom (shrimp, sugar cane, nuoc cham)
Goi Ga (shredded braised chicken, cabbage, peanut, palm sugar, and lime vinaigrette)
Pho Bo (shaved tenderloin, vermicelli, chili, cilantro, bean sprout, traditional broth)
Che Bap (Sweet corn, tapioca pudding, sweetened coconut, toasted Sesame)

For those unable to snag a place at the table for dinner on April 2, The Living Room will serve the Goi Ga as an appetizer and the Pho Bo as an entrée throughout the month of April.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 2 6:30 p.m. (one seating)
Seating is limited, so secure your place soon by calling 617-723-5101

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fish Head Whisperer Reigns Supreme Once Again

The Fish Head Whisperer has successfully defended his Crown and continues to be the reigning Champion of the Sea!

Last week, I competed in the 4th Annual iPura Tweet & Blogfest at the 2014 Seafood Expo North America (SENA), a huge, three day event devoted to seafood. In this contest, a number of local bloggers vied against each other to present the best, most comprehensive and interesting coverage of the seafood show. An impartial third party, Fiona Robinson of SeaFood Business, judged the contest and the top prize was a significant chunk of change, $1000. Today, I learned that I have been selected as a winner and I am quite happy.

I won the top prize in the category of "Best Overall Coverage" of the Seafood Expo, the third time I have won in this category. And the contest was tougher this year, with more bloggers entered in the contest, and a couple really pushing to win. I certainly had to up my game this year, with twenty one posts, to try to win once again. Next year will probably be even more competitive.

In addition, I also won the "FDA, FSMA & Imported Seafood Safety Prize" which was sponsored by the ABC Research Laboratories." This $250 cash prize was to be awarded to the blogger who best focused on "on the changing regulations for imported seafood in the United States, especially as it relates to products detained by the FDA and new regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)." This was a new category this year, and presented a challenging new slant on the seafood industry.

Many thanks go to iPura for holding this contest for the last four years and also for their continued support of Boston area bloggers. Thanks to all of the bloggers who also competed in this contest, especially including Lisa of Anali's First Amendment who won the Sustainability prize this year. Thanks also to all of the exhibitors who took the time to speak with me at the Expo about seafood, in all its aspects. And finally,kudos to all the Fish Heads who contributed to my win.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rant: Taking Food Writing To The Next Step

Peruse the myriad of food blogs and online sites and you'll often find restaurant reviews, breaking stories about upcoming restaurants, gossip about chefs, recipes, and lots of photos of enticing dishes. You might find a discussion of the merits, or lack thereof, of the Cronut or lists of the best places to find burgers, pizza and gelato. You might find discussions about the vast number of "froyo" joints or whether bacon really makes every dish better or not. You might find discussions about who makes authentic ramen or which are the best food trucks.

In the grand scheme of things, how much does any of that matter? All of these items certainly have their place, however it deals primarily with pleasure, an appeal to our senses. They can make our lives happier, more content, but they are not absolutely necessary. They are more in the area of luxuries. We possess the ability and privilege to be able to write about such matters, to indulge ourselves in such discussions. Each of us has built ourselves a pulpit from which we speak to our readers. We can connect with many individuals in this manner, and each of us possess a certain measure of influence.

There is nothing wrong with this type of writing. I have engaged in such writing many times on my own blog, and will continue to do so in the future. Many people want to read such articles and posts. They want to know what is new and good, what is hot and what is not. However, food writing can be much more than just that and I am calling on all online writers to sometimes take a different path, to use their influence and reach to educate and inform about more compelling issues.

Last week, I attended the Seafood Expo North America and it resulted in 21 articles about seafood issues. Though there were a couple fun posts, such as the best seafood I tasted, the majority dealt with issues that are vital to all of us, from the coming food crisis to the environmental and social impacts of aquaculture. These are issues that need more discussion and visibility. They impact your local community, our entire country, and even the world itself. Several other local bloggers also covered the Expo, writing their own articles about these vital matters.      

It is easy to hide your head from such imperative issues, to lose yourself in food porn and gossip. Don't do this! I want more online writers to step forward and cover some of these important matters on their blogs and online sites. I want them to bring attention to food-related problems, from hunger to factory farms, from food safety to aquaculture. I want them to use their pulpits to inform their audiences about the issues that truly matter. I want them to use their influence to create some positive effect upon the world, to make it a better place for us and future generations.

I'm not asking you to change the entire focus of your blogs or online sites. I'm simply asking you to occasionally cover much more vital issues, to take opportunities when they arise, and to do your part in making the world a better place. You have an audience and influence so why not use it to inform and persuade your readers to act better, to help resolve some of our world's problems. I'm doing my part so won't you join me?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

All About The Seafood Expo North America 2014

"The sea hath fish for every man."
--William Camden

Once again, I have spent the week surrounded by fish heads and polar bears, water and ice, fried fish and caviar. I've chatted with people from all over the world, delving into their stories of seafood, and written about much I have learned. I've also sampled plenty of seafood delights, from oysters to alligator, salmon to crabcakes. The lyrics to the "Fish Heads" song have been stuck in my head. That all can only mean one thing, that I recently attended the 2014 Seafood Expo North America (SENA), three days devoted to all things seafood.

In addition, the 4th Annual iPura Tweet & Blogfest at #SENA14 is winding down, and will end at midnight on March 20 (tonight!). This is a special contest for Boston area bloggers in which they compete to offer the "Best Overall Coverage" of the seafood expo. An impartial third party judges the contest and the top prize is a hefty $1000. As the reigning champion, I am trying to retain my crown, to win this contest again and continue to be known as the Fish Head Whisperer. 

Over the last four years, the contest has grown, and this year there were approximately 15 bloggers who attended the Expo and will be potentially competing for the grand prize. This added competition ha been great, and has caused me to up my own game in my attempt to win once again. Many thanks go to iPura for holding this contest and for their continued support of local bloggers.

This year, the Blogfest includes a second prize, the "Seafood Sustainability Prize sponsored by the Global Aquaculture Alliance." This prize will be awarded to the blogger who "best captures the portrayal of seafood sustainability" at the Expo. The basic rules for this prize are similar to that of "Best Overall Coverage."  The prize will be free registration to the GOAL 2014 conference (a value of up to $2,000) which will be held in Vietnam this October. Two years ago, there was also a Sustainability Coverage contest and I won. Can I win this year's Sustainability prize too?

There is even a third prize this year, the "FDA, FSMA & Imported Seafood Safety Prize by ABC Research Laboratories." The $250 cash prize will be awarded to the blogger who best focuses on "on the changing regulations for imported seafood in the United States, especially as it relates to products detained by the FDA and new regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)." This is certainly a more weighty topic and it was more of a challenge to compose an entry. I look forward to reading what other bloggers chose to write for this prize.

Four years ago, during the first Blogfest, I wrote four articles about the Seafood Expo and that was sufficient to win the grand prize. However, as the years have passed, and the competition has increased, I have worked even harder at my coverage of the Expo. This year, you can read about my experiences at this fascinating three-day show in twenty dozen articles. As a benefit for my readers, I am compiling links to all of my SENA articles into a single repository, this post.

The Seafood Expo is one of the highlights of my year, and it provides ample fodder for story ideas year round.  I would cover the Seafood Show even if the contest did not exist, but the contest provides some added incentive. I strongly believe that coverage of SENA by local bloggers will far surpass the coverage, by quantity and quality, of local print media. Most local print media will publish a single, cursory article about SENA while bloggers will provide multiple articles, of far greater depth. New media is stepping forward and delivering on its potential.

If you have any questions about the Seafood Expo, feel free to add them to the comments or email me.

On this past Monday at SENA, the SeaFood Business released its second Show Daily magazine and I was pleased to see that one of my tweets had been selected as their "Tweet of the Day." My tweet stated: "At the @BostonSeafood Expo, you get to travel around the world, sampling the bounty of the Seven Seas. #SENA14." As they select only two tweets during the entire show for their daily magazine, I was honored to have been chosen. It is even cooler that this is the second year in a row that one of my tweets was chosen for inclusion in the Show Daily.

Here is the list of my SENA posts:

Seafood Expo North America: Why You Should Go
SENA14: How Can we Increase Seafood Consumption in the US?
SENA14: Is Aquaculture Sustainable?
SENA14: Sustainable Caviar In Florida
SENA14: Maine Lobster from Trap to Table
SENA14: Estuario del Plata Caviar
SENA14: Updates From The Aquaculture Stewardship Council
SENA14: Verlasso Salmon: An Update
SENA14: Chilean Sea Bass--Back From The Brink
SENA14: Chefs For Seals
SENA14: FSMA & Imported Seafood
SENA14: Eleven Things You Need To Know
SENA14: Baja Seas: A New Yellowtail Aquaculture Project
SENA14: Food of Interest
SENA14: The Seven Keys of Sustainability
SENA14: How To Cook Seafood
SENA14: Pathways to Sustainability & Global Salmon Initiative
SENA14: Fish Fun & Photos
SENA14: Brief Items Of Interest
SENA14: Final Ponderings

Will you attend the Seafood Expo North America in 2015? I hope to be there once again and would like to see some of my readers there too. I also hope to see even more bloggers there, spreading fish tales to all of their readers.

"Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time."
--H. P. Lovecraft

SENA14: Final Ponderings

It is nearly time to wind down my coverage of the Seafood Expo North America, though I assure you that I will continue to write about seafood issues, inspired by items I learned or discovered at the Expo. For this post, I wanted to raise some final questions about seafood issues, thoughts which have struck me this past week. Each of those points is worthy of a full post, but time is needed for the ideas to percolate and come to fruition. Some of these thoughts touch on important themes at the Expo, as well as potential themes for the future. I would love for these final ponderings to develop into conversations and I welcome all comments about these matters.

1. Are people tougher on aquaculture than they are on land agriculture, even factory farms? Do people have higher expectations on seafood over beef, poultry, and pork? It is unquestionable that factory farms have dealt with serious environmental, safety and cruelty charges, a significant portion of those charges being substantiated. There have been many books and articles written about their practices, however, it is still the predominant method of raising land animals and plenty of issues remain. Yet the average consumer has no problem purchasing chicken or beef that came from such a factor farm. That same consumer though may refrain from buying seafood because it is comes from a farm, and it is not wild caught. Why is there such a double standard when it comes to seafood? Bacon may be king, but it can't compare to seafood in providing health benefits.

2. How do we get people to eat more seafood? That is a theme that ran rampant throughout the Expo. We know that Americans only eat an average of 14.4 pounds of seafood annually when they should be eating about 26 pounds. And as the world population increases, with a need for a greater food supply, where will we turn? A number of individuals at the Expo believe aquaculture may be the savior the world needs. Wild caught seafood won't be sufficient, and land animals won't be sufficient either. We will need to farm more seafood, as well as convince people to eat more. For the health benefits alone, to reduce the risk of heart diseases, people should be eating more seafood. But why don't they?  The reasons seem to be several, with cost probably leading the pack. Fear of cooking seafood at home is another big issue, as well as fear of mercury & PCBs. All of these issues can be addressed, but people must unite to make it so.

3. Though the Seafood Expo is a great event, it is primarily a trade event. What about holding a Seafood Expo for the public? It would be an excellent educational forum to teach them how to best buy seafood at the market, choose it at restaurants and how to cook it at home. It could also provide them samples so they could taste a variety of seafood, to hopefully acquire some new favorites and taste fish they might now have otherwise bought. The public could also be better educated on seafood issues, from mercury to aquaculture. I had this conversation with a chef at SENA and noted that a similar event does take place in Vancouver, though many of the attendees show up just for the food, and not for the education. I still think the idea has some potential, though certain matters would need to be worked out to truly make it a benefit for consumers.

4. How do we counter all of the media's scare stories about seafood?  The issue was raised during one of the conference sessions that a study determined negative media articles outnumber positive ones by 4 to 1. The media exaggerates the risk of seafood consumption, knowing that such scare stories sell more newspapers and magazines than stories touting the health benefits of seafood. Maybe more outreach is needed to the media from the industry. Or maybe more support is needed to the media which is presenting a more balanced view. The media contributes to the ignorance of consumers, causing them to shy away from seafood so that obviously needs change.

5. I was disappointed to see that the two local newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, have published almost nothing about the Seafood Expo. Besides publishing a brief AP article, I haven't seen anything else from them. Why is that? There is so much at the Expo which is newsworthy, plenty of information that their readers should learn about. It is the largest Seafood Expo in the country, and deserves more than a simple blurb in the newspapers. The seafood trade magazines and newspapers cover the event well. Locally, the best coverage you will find is from a small group of passionate bloggers who have covered the event. This year, there were over a dozen local bloggers in attendance at the Expo and I estimate they will write over 50 articles about the Expo. That is lots of coverage for the Expo, spreading the word about so many important issues, companies and more. Maybe the local newspapers should hire a couple bloggers to write Seafood Expo coverage for them.

6. At a few different conference sessions, education was cited as an important function for the seafood industry. Because of so much misinformation out there, because of the complexity of the issues involved, ways to educate consumers need to be enacted. The media can play a role in this regard, helping to teach consumers about seafood. Sustainability certification was also mentioned as an educational tool. Consumers, rather than have to delve into the complex minutiae of sustainability, merely have to seek a trusted label or logo to know the seafood they buy is sustainable. Education is also important for the industry itself, especially in the sharing of information.

7. The seafood industry appears to be coming around to the idea that working together will be more successful than working on their own. And that collaboration is not just with other seafood companies, but also with conservation group, NGOs, governmental bodies and more. The successful return of the Toothfish is a powerful example of what industry and conservationists working together can accomplish. The new GSI and Sea Pact show growing partnerships, seeking sustainability, which are willing to share technology, information and ideas. They pose great potential for jointly resolving problems that plague the industry. Other such partnerships are likely to form in the near future too. This may be the wave of the future, partnerships working as one to fight the greatest issues of the seafood industry.

8. I think many people forget that the Expo also includes Seafood Processing North America. Processing seafood plays an important role, though one not often discussed. At the Pathways to Sustainability conference though, my eyes were opened when one of the panelists discussed some of the processing improvements that were made. Once, maybe 35% of a fish would be processed as meat, but changes have led to up to 70% of a fish being made into meat. That would be like doubling the yield of a catch, helping to improve sustainability. A hundred pounds of fish could be transformed into 35 pounds of meat or 70 pounds, all dependent on how it is processed. For consumers, it is usually cheaper to buy a while fish rather than fillets. If they process that whole fish at home properly, they can really get lots of meat. I hope this starts making you think about seafood processing more.

9. Is there a significant future for seaweed & algae aquaculture? It isn't an issue I have seen discussed much at the Expo, but it exists if you pay attention. For example, at many of the Asian booths, you'll find seaweed and algae products, laver and nori. Many Americans are familiar with nori from sushi but would they snack on a crisp nori product? This year, one of the exhibitors, almost hidden near the rear of the exhibit hall, was a Maine producer of kelp. I loved the kelp smoothies and kelp savory they offered for sampling. And their kelp farm is sustainable. They are trying to jump start a kelp industry in the U.S. but will it catch on. What are the obstacles? How willing is the average American to opt for farm raised kelp? It is a healthy food but is is appealing enough?

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
--Jacques Yves Cousteau

SENA14: Brief Items of Interest

While perusing through the multitude of booths at the Seafood Expo North America, you can learn about lots of intriguing seafood issues, though you might not have the time to fully follow up on them at the time. You only have 3 days at the Expo and that time will seem to fly rather quickly. As such, I wanted to shine a little attention on a small assortment of items I gleamed from the Expo, which I may follow up on more in the future.

1. Slavery in Thailand?
Not much was said at the Expo concerning the plight of workers in the Thai seafood industry. The Environmental Justice Foundation published a series of reports showing that immigrant workers may be being forced to work on fishing boats in Thailand. They may receive little, if any money, and may also be beaten and starved. Thailand states they have enacted some new practices to try to prevent this practice. Part of sustainability is social responsibility and terrible injustices such as this need to be ended. Let us hope Thailand puts an end to this tragedy.

2. Fish Pins
Every year at the Expo, the Wildlife Collection displays and sells their collection of pins, keychains and tie tacs. They have hundreds of designs and can custom order too. Obviously at the Expo, they show lots of their fish related items, and I think they are very cool items. They have a great diversity of designs, just about any type of fish or marine creature you might want. I don't think they get enough attention in stories about the Expo so I wanted to highlight them.

3. Pangea Shellfish Company

Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods. The stay in bed all day and night. They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them.”
--Hector Bolitho, 'The Glorious Oyster' 

Pangea Shellfish Company, an East Coast shellfish wholesaler, also owns Standish Shore Oysters, an oyster farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts. They carry over 70 seasonal East Coast and West Coast varieties and have a cool display each year, showing off all of the different oysters they carry. They also stock oysters, mussels, clams,crab and sea urchin. Unfortunately, they do not offer samples of their oysters at the Expo, as I would have liked to try their Standish Shore. However, it is a local company so I should be able to find some in the near future.

4. Sea Pact
Another intriguing seafood collaboration is Sea Pact, an alliance of nine seafood distributors in North America, including Albion Fisheries in Vancouver, Fortune Fish & Gourmet in Chicago, Ipswich Shellfish Group in Boston, Santa Monica Seafood in Los Angeles, Seacore Seafood in Toronto, Seattle Fish Co. in Denver, A.C. Covert in Halifax, J.J. McDonnell in Baltimore and Stavis Seafood in Boston. Their objective is to make the seafood industry more sustainable.

One of their ways to do this is to financially sponsor projects which they feel will further the goal of sustainability. Recently, they approved grant money for two new recipients. One was a Fishery Improvement Project for lobstering in Brazil, hoping to stop widespread use of illegal fishing gear. The other was to support a project in Maine to improve sustainability of the soft shell clam, to grow local populations so the industry has long term potential.

I like the idea of this collaborative endeavor, and definitely want to delve deeper into its efforts.

5. Reading is Fun
While at the Expo, I am always sure to pick up some seafood reading, copies of several trade magazines and newspapers which are very informative about the seafood industry.You'll find periodicals such as SeaFood BusinessSeafood International, Fishing News International, Fishing Farming International, and Northern Seafood. Though primarily geared for the trade, there is much anyone can learn from the articles within these magazines and newspapers. If you are concerned at all about seafood issues, you should check them out.

If you prefer books or posters, then you could have checked out Urner Barry, which sell a wide variety of books, guidebooks, inspection manuals, posters and more, all revolving around the seafood industry. Most of these items are geared to the industry, but other interested in seafood may also find value in some of their materials.

SENA14: Fish Fun & Photos

"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."
--John F. Kennedy

Every year at the Seafood Expo North America, I take a few hundred photos of all of the fascinating things I find there, including plenty of fish heads. Not all of those photos easily fit into my other posts, but I still want to share them with my readers. Thus, I have collected a group of photos here for your viewing pleasure. I've added captions (some serious, some humorous, to some of the photos. Please enjoy this visual journey through the warped eye of the Fish Head Whisperer.

Look at me! I can stand on my head without using my fins.

It looks like these frog legs are dancing the Can-Can, with the lettuce serving as their dress.

That is lobster perfection, with the meat expertly extracted to reform a lobster without the shell.

Would you like to try bobbing for crabs? Unlike apples though, they might bite back.

"Me eel brothers, let me release you from the prison of all that plastic. I want you to be free!"

Sumo crab, ready to battle.

"Look, up in the sky. Is it a bird? A plane? No, it is a humongous fish!"

Fish heads. Big eyes. What are they thinking?

Unfortunately, I didn't get to taste any gator this year at the Expo.

I'm a sucker for octopus.

I love the colors on this guy.

Capt'n Catfish is a regular at the Expo. I still wonder how he would taste fried in cornmeal.

A prehistoric, giant lobster, chiseled out of an ancient glacier?

Apparently this Panda is too obese now to climb up the pole, so now he sits at the bottom. Someone has been eating far too much bamboo.

I did not know there were Irish polar bears. Raise a Guinness and celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the Expo.

This is one of the only true Fish Heads I saw at the Expo. Most of the heads I saw were still attached to the fish.

No, it is a Geoduck!

"I see you, and don't think you are touching my legs."

This fish is on and "Sweet Lips" is his screen name.

Just not quite sure what it is.

Where is McGruff the Crime Dog when you need him?

Why does it seem these polar bears get bigger every year?

Party like a Squid!

"No, it didn't hurt when I go my tongue pierced."

Maybe the meanest fish I saw at the Expo.

Moe, Larry and Curley.

The rest of this photos are some intriguing seafood from Providence Bay Fish Co. in Rhode Island. Above, Whelks in-shell,

Red Coral Sea Cucumber, meats and skins,

Whelk meat.

White sea cucumbers.

Red Coral sea cucumber meat

"I've always wanted to be able to hold my breath for like, ever, and swim in the water like a fish."
--Carlos Pena, Jr.