I’m part of a cult. I know what you’re thinking… “NO ERIC COME BACK, SEE THE LIGHT”. No, I have seen the light, it pinches a little but with a little work there is a plentiful bounty of white meat to be had but only if it’s sustainable!
The homerun hitting Waterfront Seafood Grill brought together their amazing crew for another night of showcasing one of my favorite things to eat, crab! “Eric, would you like to attend this event?” The stars lined up perfectly and I was able to join up with my BFF Andrea, Randall PR, Keren Brown (FOODPORTUNITY!!), a ton of writers (Thrillist, D-List, and Wasabit Prime to name a few), the CEO of Mackay Restaurants, Frank Rogusa from Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Executive Chef Peter Levine, and more!
The evening started out by Executive Chef Peter Levine telling us a little bit about the work involved into finding the best crab available. It’s more than just finding crab, it’s about finding sustainable crab. Yes, it’s great to put something on your menu but is it ok that you have no idea where it came from? You might get a great price on your crab order but if the source isn’t sustainable then how the hell are you going to sell it when you cause the source to dry out for your “great” price?
(Deconstructed Crab Louie: Asparagus, tomato, egg, olives, dungeness crab, louie. Served with an equally amazing Jaillance Cremant de Bordeaux Rose sparking wine. Each little bite amazing, it allows you to build your own bites or put them all together for an incredible dish. I love deconstructed dishes because they allow the diner to build their own bite….finally control!)
In steps Frank Rogusa. He works for Ocean Beauty Seafoods and worked with Chef Levine to make sure the items not only featured the best crab but made sure these varieties of crab they are to feature on their new menu are from sustainable sources.
(Crab and Sweet Pea Panna Cotta “Peas and Carrots”. Spiced carrot broth, fried tarro served with a Leth Gruner Veltliner Steingrund ’08. The spicy broth and the delicate creamy taste of the sweet pea panna cotta along with a touch of crab and the crispy tarro set this dish into the stratosphere. Not too light or heavy, just decadent with intense flavor)
Making sure you can get fish from a sustainable source requires a lot of work like Chef and Mr. Rogusa explained. Chef said it required a massive amount of phone calls, last minute flights, new relationships, partnerships, and breaking down suppliers to make sure they were serving the best product….”good doesn’t cut it”.
Mr. Rogusa explained that there are three important requirements for his definition of sustainability:
- Spawning biomass. The total weight of all sexually mature fish in the population. This quantity depends on year class abundance, the exploitation pattern, the rate of growth, fishing and natural mortality rates, the onset of sexual maturity and environmental conditions. (click)
- Method of catch. This is very important to the sustainability of not just the crab but to other creatures of the sea. When they catch the crab are they just catching crab or other species of fish at the same time? Big nets to catch it all or a very careful balance to catch the targeted product?
- Carbon Footprint. You have heard this term a million times. Especially if you live in West Seattle All of the crab caught for that evening’s dinner were from the United States. Many restaurants will buy crab from sources and not realize the crab comes from half a world away….all they need to do is ask questions. Ocean Beauty asks questions!
(Dungeness “Banh Mi” Sandwich. Pickled daikon and carrots, head cheese (I can’t get enough), cilantro, and jalapeno mayo paired with Long Shadows Riesling Poet’s Leap ’08. I love banh mi. Frequently on my Facebook page I proclaim “BANH MI TIME” when I’m hitting up various locations for this perfect sandwich. I almost yelled my catch phrase in the restaurant but I decided not too…..I whispered it quietly to myself. Crab in a banh mi? Excuse me while I kiss the sky.)
This all lead to Chef Levine proclaiming that he fights to have the best quality seafood caught in a great manner. A respect for food but an equal respect for the animal that is giving up its life to feed his customers.
Earlier that day Chef Levine had bagged up over 200 lunches for a charity event and then raced over to the restaurant to prepare the evening’s meal. He was proud to say that he did all the cooking for the event by himself and it didn’t even phase him. He just wanted to provide the charity and all of us with a great experience while not having his line cooks worry about the extra duties. How awesome is that?
(Maryland Soft Shelled Crabs. Green bean, cucumber, almonds and shaved fennel salad paired with Domaine du Prieure Sovigney-les-beaune ’06 and Cameron Abbey Ride Pinot Noir ’07. I think this was the first time a lot of people in attendance had seen a soft shelled crab before because they kept asking how to eat it. Good thing there were some east coasters in attendance because they said, “eat the whole damn thing!”. I have had these in a sandwich, in a salad (click), and now served the Waterfront way. I love every way)
I was sitting next Evan, from D-List Magazine, and Mrs. Rogusa for the dinner. We all talked and had a great time sharing stories and information on crab. There is one picture I don’t have and it is of the Maryland Blue Crab Ravioli with shaved asparagus, butter braised leeks, and lemon zest paired with Sparkman Chardonnay Lumiere ’08 (awesome) and Clos de la Roilette Fleurie ’08. I didn’t take a picture because I wanted to leave this one for you to see for yourself. When I tasted the dish I was already full but I devoured it completely. I turned over to Mrs. Rogusa and said, “this is amazing, I could eat this everyday”. She agreed completely.
Dessert came and the evening closed. Another great experience at the Waterfront Seafood Grill. Great company, great friends, great food, just great….everything. I suggest you try them. I’ve written three posts about this restaurant and if you haven’t gone by now then I will have to go again and again until I prove to you that the Waterfront Seafood Grill is worthy of your time and money. DON’T FORCE ME TO GO AGAIN! Oops, to late…..they have a wine event in the Spring that I am going to be attending….SABER TIME!!!
Thank you once again to the amazing staff at The Waterfront Seafood Grill (CHEF LEVINE!!!!!), Andrea at Randall PR, Frank Rogusa and his lovely wife Linda, all the fantastic writers, and sustainable crab. Coolest cult to be part of!