Incredible sustainable sushi and more hopes for a healthier food system.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I ate the evidence.
You would’ve too, if you like sushi – it was a beautiful maki roll packed with roasted garlic, daikon, tempura’d yam, togarashi spices, layered with rich marinated shiitake and soft avocado and crowned with coconut, negi onion and ponzu sauce ($9.50).
The evidence proves (again) that fresh and healthy food can be medicine – nourishing, healing, encouraging – and not just for us, but our oceans.
The all-veggie roll – fittingly named The Medicinal – was a chalkboard special at Geisha Sushi (464-3328) in coastal Capitola. While our county enjoys a school of superb sushi spots, I went north because I share Weekly environmental ace Kera Abraham’s longheld beef/belief that the biggest absence in our local restaurant family is the lack of a sustainable sushi sister. Geisha, who partners with conservation pioneers SeafoodWatch and FishWise, was the first in the area to commit to consciously fished sardines, albacore and catfish.
That’s big, as sushi spots can rank among the most rapacious pushers of threatened fish stocks with popular dishes like hamachi or unagi. SeafoodWatch publishes a guide exclusively for sushi just for that reason; getting the app is easy on a Droid or iPhone.
Striking reminders of the stakes came this week, when a Pacific bluefin, the most wildly expensive and endangered in the overfished sea, went for $1.76 million, and as scientists released an assessment that states bluefin numbers are less than 4 percent of what they once were, and dropping fast. As we knock out pillars of the ocean’s food-and-predator pyramid, we’re closer to jellyfish sandwiches by the minute.
In better news, it was also this week word on this year’s SeafoodWatch-boosting Cooking for Solutions debuted. Find more on new events and chefs – hello, “street food extravaganza”?! – on the blog.
Back at Geisha, there was other edible evidence to enjoy, like uni poppers wrapped in shizo with a ton of tobiko ready to pop on top ($7.50); simple, satisfying and supremely sustainable negi mackarel ($5.50); and just-seared, super-fresh, rich-but-lean tombo tataki ($15). There are more straightforward rolls too, but we went for more wacky maki magic, including the epic “art attack” with tempura soft shell crab, wild smoked salmon and rock crab ($10.50); the “corn dogger” with arctic char, cream cheese, cracker crunchies and mysterious-delicious “moop sauce” ($9.50); and a fabulous “fish taco” roll with tempura suzuki fish, jalapeños, cilantro, lime, cabbage and taco sauces ($9.50). Dinner is adjourned. The verdict: not guilty eating.
•More good news and bad news on the sustainable eating front. Bad news: Our industrial farming tendencies have prioritized yield and ship-ability over far more savory and sustainable outcomes – from soil health to biodiversity to flat-out flavor. The good: It’s not too late to reclaim true nourishment and mindful methods over chemicals and genetics. As the EcoFarm Conference at Asilomar Jan. 23-26 spells out in its program, “many of the solution engineers are in our own ecological farming community.” There are few summits that traffic in as much inspiration and implementation; one of the best ways for the public to tune in is with Jan. 24’s artisanal beer and cheese tasting ($15) in the fascinating exhibitor marketplace, www.eco-farm.org.
•Speaking of genetically modified, Ari LeVaux’s salmon piece (p. 27) is key reading for environmentalists and seafood fans.
•Diet season brings CHOMP registered dietitian Michelle Barth and surgeon Dr. Mark Vierra to talk truths and myths 5:30-6:30pm Thursday, Jan. 24, at Peninsula Wellness Center in Marina. (888) 452-4667.
• Salad-and-pasta “workers lunches” – for $9 – start at il vecchio (324-4282) this Monday, Jan. 21. Check out the rotating choices, two for each weekday, on the blog.
•Come 10-11:30am Saturday, Jan. 26: a free public compost workshop at Marina’s MRWMD. One of the handiest free classes I’ve ever taken – greened my kitchen, reduced my trash, boosted my garden, www.mrwmd.org or 384-5313.
• Bankers Casino adds a sports bar/off-track betting joint called Triple Crown OTB & Sports Bar Friday, Feb. 1.
•$5 for a dozen Red’s Donuts Monday-Tuesday until they run out at the Monterey (372-9761) and Seaside (394-3444) spots.
• Hold onto your hymnals, P.G.: The Planning Commission has recommended City Council change the city code for the downtown and Forest Hill areas to allow for bars to set up shop (now only restaurants can serve alcohol). The council will consider it in more depth Wednesday, Jan. 16.
•Locals get 15 percent off every Tuesday at Cantinetta Luca (625-6500) and 400 Degrees (244-0040).
• Don’t fear, Francophiles: 2012 has passed and engorged goose liver is still melting on tastebuds at places like Andre’s Bouchee (626-7880). You’ll have to talk them into giving it to you, though, as they can’t legally sell it. Pull out whatever sweet seduction you can, as it’s well worth it. Get the super tender scallop too. Impeccable.
• Cy Yontz’s annual agave dinner ($75) is Jan. 24 with El Diablo guest chefs Sean Yontz and Martin Garcia, quail confit tamales, poblano-crusted sturgeon, crema de mezcal adult milkshakes and Del Maguey’s Ron Cooper at Rio Grill (625-5436).
• Brophy’s Tavern (624-2476) has Big Daddy Speakeasy 22-ouncers for $6. And probably the best – certainly the biggest – Chicago dog ($10 for about 10 feet) in town.
• I know no better use of $3.75 than the combo bahn mi with headcheese, steamed pork, pate, carrot, cucumber at Chopstix (372-2622, 899-2622). Ask for it spicy.
• “The Earth does not belong to us,” Chief Seattle said. “We belong to the Earth.”