Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tipping the Scales

Well, we are just about to head into another New Year. You know, that time of year when resolutions ring in your head and your credit card bill reflects a new gym membership or a weight loss plan purchase. Whatever your resolution may be, make it one that you can realistically achieve.

For instance, I recently had someone tell me that they were going to do more volunteer work this year. My resolution is to become a big sister through the big sister program in Naugatuck.

I'm not sure why New Year's resolutions tend to focus on weight loss. Why is it that we focus on what we have to lose as an individual when it is possible that there might be so much that another could gain from just a little of our time? Why not combine the two - for example, start an outdoor hiking/fishing program for underprivileged youth. This meets your need for exercise and provides a structured outdoor activity for kids.

So, let's Tip The Scales This Year in a different direction!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!!!

This time of year is truly about tradition. Historical traditions of family gatherings and regular events.

For some, this is a difficult time of year. It can often bring up emotions that may be difficult to handle. For example, the loss of a loved one can conjure negative emotions. It is very important to provide structure and support to friends during this time.

This year marks my grandmother's passing five years ago. A woman of conviction, intelligence, and sheer brilliance, my grandmother (AKA Gaga) taught me how to catch mackerel. She liked to eat them, too. She would take Critty (my cousin Chris) and me to the docks in Friendship, Maine. (Back then, the waters weren't overfished and you could actually catch something). She would wait in her car or sit nearby in a chair and watch us fish.

As adults, Gaga saw us off when we fished for the day. And there she would be when we arrived back at the dock to see what we caught. The sheer excitement in her eyes was enough to feed my soul for a lifetime. The way she would smile at us and make us feel so good about catching fish (and other things, too)...she is sorely missed. I know that she is in my heart wherever I go and I see her in some of the things that I do - like gardening.

So if you have a family member who is grieving this holiday season or a friend who might need a little extra support, reach out...sometimes gifts of a non-material nature can be worth more than any other gift.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

CMTA Hartford Boat and Fishing Show

For my birthday in January, I'm hoping to go to the Connecticut Marine Trade Association (CMTA) Hartford Boat and Fishing Show. Held at the Connecticut Convention Center January 24 - 27, 2008, this show also includes seminars. On Saturday and Sunday, there are sessions that provide instruction on fishing from kayaks (which I did on Oscaleta Lake in NY). There is another for catching monster bass using tubes and worms. Now the latter topic might not seem enticing to a lot of people, but the idea of kayaking with someone and fishing simultaneously would be a lot of fun!

Admission is $12.00 for this event. The list of exhibitors has not yet been posted, but stay tuned. You're bound to see Grady White, Boston Whaler, Evinrude, Mercury, and more. How much fun will it be to attend a boating and fishing event in the middle of the winter! Warms my fuzzy little heart!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I love Wasabi! The way that it makes your nose tingle, twinge, and then all of a sudden you can breathe the biggest breath! Better than any prescribed medication I know of!

What would sushi be without wasabi? What would a fishing blog be without a sushi review? Most of my friends tease me - just how much can you love and write about fish? Well, I am pretty sure that my interest in fish is innate. My father loves to fish and my mother was raised on a lake. I'm pretty sure that she liked to fish, too. Explains the connection, perhaps!

Anyway - sushi. I love sushi. Spicy tuna, eel handroll, bonito, and yellowtail. The key to sushi, for me, is the presentation and the consistent freshness offered by the restaurant. I have never had "bad" sushi - but it can happen. The tricks are:

  • Crowds - If the restaurant is crowded all the time and/or you need a reservation, well, you can rest assured that there is plenty of "tuna turnover"

  • Cleanliness - You know that cleanliness is next to godliness, right? Well, imagine raw fish in an unclean environment. Pick your sushi spot(s) carefully!

  • Sushi Chef - A good sushi chef acknowledges you and will often remember what you order if you frequent the establishment. A good sushi chef will be constantly cleaning the area, showcasing his or her work, and may even offer you a sample of something to try. Sushi chefs are very calm, even-keeled people. No wonder they work with fish!

Connecticut actually has some pretty decent sushi restaurants. I have been to most of the following restaurants. Having lived in Washington, D.C. for 10 years after college, I was exposed to some pretty great sushi places (Cafe Japone, etc.). It has been tough to compare, but Connecticut ranks pretty high. Must be the close proximity to New York...or maybe the ocean in general. Could be a fluke (pun intended). I know, don't quit my day job!

Here is my list (in order of preference):

Some of the best sushi that I've ever had in my life was definitely in New York - here is the BEST OF LIST. Major cities seem to draw the best stuff in many categories (must be the law of economics, supply and demand). Most are affordable; others are more than a car payment.

So, consider the list of tricks I have provided. If you have never tried sushi, there are all different types of fish and preparation styles. For example, you don't have to eat raw salmon - you can have the chef prepare a salmon tempura with asparagus, for example. Sushi is one of those types of foods that provides flexibility, fun, and festivity! Enjoi!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"The Catch"

I've decided to try restaurant reviews for the winter. This is the perfect topic for me because I love to cook and eat, I enjoy trying new things, and I love to write.

The Catch
is a restaurant in Ridgefield, Connecticut that specializes in fish dishes. They do offer other items (like Braised short ribs and steak), but the fish is the dish!

The restaurant presents a set list of fish (i.e., Chilean Sea Bass, Salmon or Halibut) with options for sauces. You can also choose two sides from a long list of options including sweet potato fries (one of my favorites) and sauteed spinach with garlic.

I was there last Wednesday with my friend Joey. We shared calamari which are lightly coated in cornmeal and cooked exactly right. They melt in your mouth. The calamari are served with 3 dipping sauces. One is a smoky tomato, one is lemon-pepper, and the other is a wasabi-based sauce that would be awesome on a grilled turkey sandwich with muenster cheese, crisp lettuce, and oops, I digress.

I had the Tortilla Mahi Mahi special - it was amazingly prepared, encrusted with cornmeal and served with a medley of color - like a salsa. It was prepared perfectly and needless to say, I was a member of the clean plate club that night.

The atmosphere at The Catch is not pretentious. With low level lighting, a giant bay window, and nice dining music, the main dining room has tables that are close together but not overly crowded. On the Saturday and Wednesday evenings on which I have been there over the past few months, the crowd has been steady.

The bar is a great place to sit, too, for an impromptu, more casual feeling. Plus, when you are face to face with the alcohol, well, you try different things. I had a Frangelico after dinner for the first time in a long time.

There is nothing fishy about this joint. The food is straight-forward, the staff are efficient and friendly, and best of all, they prepare all dishes exactly the way you want them...offering choices along the way.

Stay tuned for next week's review: top Connecticut sushi spots! (I'm hoping that all of this leads to the gig as the Phantom Diner for the Hartford Courant - I used to sing in the St. John's Church Choir in West Hartford as a child with the man that did this back then)!

Sunday, December 9, 2007


The concept of persistence touches many areas of my life. Between my interests (fishing and golf), my personal life, and the recent professional challenge of finding a new job during the holidays, experience with persistence has paid off.

Persistence pays. I can hear my grandparents as they drill this concept into my mind.

The key to persistence, as I see it, is knowing what you want and not settling before you obtain it. Sometimes considered akin to stubbornness, persistence is different. Persistence is an underlying passion, a drive, a motivation, an "I won't settle for less than what I deserve" approach to life. Persistence has paid off for me recently during my job search. I was selective and picky, focusing on four specific companies. I was able to choose which one I wanted at the time that was right for me. Persistence put me in a very fortunate position - for which I am grateful. I am also very lucky to have wonderful friends who helped me stay focused by listening to my ideas, goals, concerns, and what have you.

The level of persistence that I practice in my life has occasionally been viewed as overbearing (by some). I employ such levels of persistence not because of a deficiency, but more from the perspective of knowing exactly what I want and truly striving to get it. I have always been an extremely goal-oriented individual. I believe that my persistence will continue to bring me what I long as I am patient. One receives nothing without patience, time, gentleness of heart and soul, and perhaps most importantly, love, passion, understanding, and selflessness.

Persistence. It's like casting over and over again into the same spot because you know the fish is under that tree on the edge of the lake. Cast and you shall be rewarded. Persistence and patience shall bring you what you deserve.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Just for the Halibut

I received an email from a regular reader asking me for some fish recipes for the holidays. So, for the halibut, I am making a mid-week post. Hanukkah is already underway and Christmas is fast approaching. Enjoy these offerings from nos amis - les poissons!

Epicurious offers a great recipe for
Roasted Halibut with Walnut Crust
. I've done this with pecans or pistachios, so if you're a nut like me, try something different.

Nigella continues to offer some of the finest fish recipes I've ever known. She has a cold fish salad recipe that is to die for, not to mention a fantastic salmon mousse. The following recipe is simple, flavorful, and actually, delicious! Linguine, Shrimp, and Halibut

The most basic, tasty Halibut recipe I've ever come across (and kept and used repeatedly) is the Lemon and Herb Crusted Halibut from Food Network. This recipe is so easy to follow and the dish is amazingly flavorful.

Now I've recently been on this Asian - kick with my cooking. Ginger, soy, wasabi, and peanut sauce. It's amazing what you can do with ginger and soy sauce. And rice vinegar works wonders!

Sea Bass, which is my absolute favorite fish to catch and eat, offers many methods of cooking. One of my personal favorites is to clean and stuff the entire fish with a crabmeat dressing - but only in Maine! The following recipe is for Ginger Sea Bass over Wilted Greens. This recipe is healthy and easy to make. Give it a try!

And don't forget about my own trusty recipe: Chilean Sea Bass with Garlic Caper Aioli over Spaghetti Squash.

Now I am not a lover of salmon. I like smoked salmon on a bagel with lots of capers and red onion, but I don't fancy a hunk of salmon with rice and veg. I don't know why and I really can't explain it. But having cooked fish on wooden planks before, this is a delicious recipe and the mustard mashed potatoes are out of this world!

Cedar Planked Salmon with Maple Glaze and Mustard Mashed Potatoes

Thanks, Epicurious, Nigella, and Food Network!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Max and his Wellfleet Oysters

"This morning, I opened my eyes and saw snow falling from the skies..." Snowboarding, anyone?

No river fishing today...but in the late afternoon on Saturday, I decided to venture up to West Hartford Center for some Wellfleet Oysters and a glass of wine at Max's Oyster Bar. I had some Christmas shopping to do in the Center, so I decided to combine the excursion into one to ensure the consumption of some good seafood.

Now the rule about Oysters, as seasoned consumers know, is that you must avoid eating oysters in months that do not have an 'R' in it. Primarily, do not eat oysters in the summer (May - August). This is a general rule that I have always followed, as oysters are typically not as good when the waters from which they come are warmer.

Max's was mobbed. I'd been there on a casual Sunday before and once or twice for dinner on Saturday nights. All I wanted was a seat at the bar. Knowing that there would be a wait (1 hour mind you), I put in my name and off I went to complete part of my shopping.

As it turned out, I was able to complete all of my shopping (JoS A. Banks, The Toy Chest, etc.). My thought was that most people are probably out for the night, so why not shop (since I adore it so much). For those of you who really know me, you know that this is a complete stretch of the truth. I can't stand shopping in any form, with the exception of grocery/meal-related shopping, which I love.

Anyway, I returned to Max's for my seat at the bar and there it was, waiting for me. I swear, someone had spit-shined it because it looked particularly new. At once, I ordered a glass of the lone Malbec on the menu (Malbec Reserva, Terrazas, 2004 (Mendoza, Argentina). About 10 minutes later, I order a dozen Wellfleet oysters (raw), and I began a conversation with a lovely gay male couple sitting next to me. One was a doctor (Louis) and the other was a chef (Tom). They had just come from an afternoon Baroque quartet performance at the Hartt School of Music. One of my personal favorite things to do - listen to chamber music.

Tom, Louis, and I had a lovely conversation. The oysters were amazing. They also had Chilean Sea Bass as the fish of the evening. Sparks thoughts of one of my favorite recipes.

Thank you, Max, for a great evening.