Dine Out for Bristol Bay San Francisco started yesterday and to celebrate, two of the volunteer organizers Ryan Desmond, Kim Kuettel and I decided to attempt to eat at every participating restaurant in one night using bikes as our mode of transportation. We were lucky to have a couple of friends join along the way.
Dine Out for Bristol Bay originated out of our desire to create an action for Bay Area people after seeing the film Red Gold. One of the easiest action to make is to Vote with your Fork. By buying Bristol Bay salmon, we are able to raise the value of the industry and the more valuable this industry becomes, the more we have the ear of Washington politicians.
It was going to be the ultimate progressive dinner and there’s nothing like biking around the city at night. The lights, the cars, it’s like being a super hero except it feels like an act of sedition – a super hero pirate. There’s nothing like the shit eating grin that goes with eating great salmon and then hopping on the bike and looking for more.
We started at Fog Harbor Fish House. Fog Harbor has recently converted their whole menu to be 100% sustainable. It’s apparent by talking to their GM Ryan that they are excited about doing the right thing here and what this means for the community at large. Their location puts them in a position to deal with a lot of tourists and, by leading with their message of sustainability, they can send their guests home with an important information.
Chef Alonso started us with an Ahi Tuna Poke. The Poke was speckled with Mango which added an element of sweetness to the tender savory bit tuna.
For our entree Chef Alonso prepared us Grilled Salmon with Honey Glaze with Mango Salsa on a bed wilted Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The portion was really generous and the salmon was grilled to a very tender medium rare. The rub they used on the salmon really pleased me because it had elements of spiciness in it that lent itself well to the grilling process.
Fog Harbor’s commitment to doing the right thing is reflected in their fully sustainable seafood program. I encourage folks to head down their and show your support for their efforts to help protect Bristol Bay.
The next stop on the Salmon Crawl was Michael Mina. We had a super slick ride along the Embarcadero, slipping in and out of traffic in the financial district. MM was recently voted 2011 Restaurant of the Year in Esquire Magazine. Of course we felt even more like pirates because we road our bikes to this incredible establishment.
We started with cocktails and I don’t know what anyone else got because I got a “deconstructed Sazerac” and immediately lost myself in curiosity and revelery. Here they take the classic cocktail broken down into essential parts to be tasted in succession or enjoyed in pieces. The elements: candied lemon zest, Bulleit Bourbon, soda with bitters, Peychaud jelly, and an absinthe marshmallow.
Next came an appetizer of Smoked Salmon Canapes with a pumpernickel crust. This was particularly exciting for me because Michael Mina is using The Gypsy Fish Company’s salmon for this dish! And then to bite into something that takes an ingredient that I know well and elevates it to some other plain of flavor is an unspeakable thrill. The preparation is with a dab of foamed creme fraiche, a pickled onion slice, and herring roe and the experience moves your move through both a textural and taste transformation that is clearly intentional and orchestrated to perfection. There’s the initial crunch of the crust and salt and smokiness hits your palate but almost immediately cut and thinned by the foamed creme fraiche. On the next chew, your teeth burst through the roe and your back into intense saltiness and with the sweetness of the pickled sweet onion. Swallow, finally, and the smoke stays on your palate. You’re surprised and comforted by it’s familiarity because its’ always been there, you just forgot because the marching band was just passing by. Awesome!
To the surprise of us pirates, our Salmon Crawl was way laid by a parade of dishes which made it impossible to continue further. Although unplanned, we were happy to be flexible and I definitely have to concede that I realized that I have a multiply orgasmic mouth. Every dish that came out was both surprising in the technique and delicious in the execution. There’s a reason that they were awarded restaurant of the year for 2011.
Here’s a gallery of photos. I apologize for the low light levels. I figured using flash would be too disruptive.
Way laid but with shit eating grins. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to experience the legerdemain of Michael Mina and encourage everyone to go out and get some. It’s special occasion food but you’re special and so is Bristol Bay. Even better, be a pirate and ride your bike there!
I want to also give a special thanks to Chef Chris L’hommedieu who took the time to come out and talk to us about the food and the preparations. His commitment to great food and protecting the areas where great ingredients come from is reflected in how much respect he shows the ingredients that he works with.
Stay tuned… the Salmon Crawl continues this weekend. There’s still more restaurants on the list. Hopefully you’ll beat us to some to some of them but if not, you can preview the great salmon dishes here. Now stop staring at your computer. Go make a reservation.