Posts Tagged 'Fresh Thoughts'



Fresh Thoughts is BACK!

Due to popular demand, two dates have been added to our 2013 Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series! Chefs from Ryleigh’s Oyster House and The Capital Grille are set to headline the additional events in September and November of 2013.

National Aquarium Fresh Thoughts

Each dinner of the series is themed around sustainable seafood, and will feature a cocktail reception, cooking demonstration by the guest chef, and a fine dining experience that includes a four-course menu created solely for the event. Guests are invited to come early to explore the exhibits, including Blacktip Reef!

Ryleigh’s Oyster House, located in historic Federal Hill, specializes in serving fresh, quality seafood, meat, poultry, and produce in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant has been recognized by the Restaurant Association of Maryland as one of the “Stars of the Industry” and received praise from The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper and WJZ.

Executive Chef Patrick Morrow will host an oyster-themed dinner on September 24, 2013.

The Capital Grille, located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, is famous for its dry-ages steaks, exceptional seafood and award-winning wine list. The restaurant has been named to OpenTable’s Best American Cuisine Top 50 List, and has received accolades from WineSpectator and UrbanSpoon.

The Capital Grille will host a dinner on November 19, 2013.

Tickets for each dinner are $79 for National Aquarium members and $99 for non-members. Tickets for the September 24 and November 19 dinners can be purchased online or by calling 410-576-3869. 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Understanding Seafood Fraud

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We all know that the seafood choices we make directly affect the health of our oceans. How the fish is fished or farmed, where it is fished or farmed, if it is overfished, if other species are accidentally caught along with the desired species: all of these issues make a difference in the overall health of our marine ecosystems. Fortunately, there are tools that are available to help us make the right choices both in grocery stores and in seafood restaurants.

What happens, though, when make the effort to make the right choices, but we are sold mislabeled fish and we end up eating something completely different from what we ordered? This is one of the major aspects of Seafood Fraud, and it happens more often than we think. To raise awareness of this important conservation issue, seafood fraud was the chosen theme of last night’s Fresh Thoughts dinner at National Aquarium, Washington, DC.

According to a study done by our partners over at Oceana, close to 33 percent of the seafood purchased in the US is mislabeled.

This is not necessarily the fault of the restaurant or grocery store. Mislabeling can happen anywhere in the supply chain. A vast majority of the seafood we consume in the US is imported. There are several steps involved in getting a fish caught or farmed in a foreign county onto your dinner plate. Many folks are involved (fishermen, farmers, distributors, importers, exporters, etc) and there are limited resources available to inspect seafood imports. Further more, generally consumers have a limited ability to truly recognize what fish we’re eating. The situation is ripe for us to be taken advantage of.

This hurts us as consumers and as concerned citizens of our blue planet. Often, we are sold cheaper fish in place of premium species that we desire. This trend also hurts honest fishermen, distributors and chefs that are doing their best to make responsible business decisions while providing for their families. Just as importantly, though, is the harm this is causing to our marine ecosystems. Knowing the growing trend for choosing sustainable seafood, sustainable choices are often swapped with seafood that is “red-listed” to take advantage of the willingness to pay a little bit more for seafood that supports healthy oceans.

“The best way to combat seafood fraud is to require traceability – or the ability to track our fish from boat to plate.” said Beth Lowell, campaign director for Oceana, during last night’s event. We as consumers need to be assured of the source of our seafood. In the US, fishermen already provide much of this information upon landing. Unfortunately, there is no accountability in making sure it then is kept intact throughout the rest of the supply chain. And for the vast majority of the seafood that we consume that in imported, there are almost no checks and balances in place to protect the consumer.

So, what can we do? Here are some simple ways you can help combat this issue:

  • We have to let our elected officials know that we are aware of this issue and are concerned about how it is affecting our families, our economy and our oceans. Tell your Senator you want to help them fight seafood fraud!
  • Take steps to understand and decrease the number of steps it takes for the seafood that you consume to get from the boat to your plate. In Maryland, for example there is a True Blue program that identifies restaurants that are selling locally sourced crab meat. Many Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are also developing across the country. These programs make a direct link to consumers and local fishermen, allowing us to purchase healthy, local seafood while supporting our local economies.
  • Spread the word to friends and family. Awareness is the first, and arguably most critical, step to harnessing real change!

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Fresh Thoughts Recipe: Escabeche-Style Grouper

Guests who attend the June 19 Fresh Thoughts dinner at the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, will enjoy a cocktail reception and fine-dining experience from Chef Xavier Deshayes. The dinner’s courses will pair commonly swapped species side-by-side and ask the audience to identify the fish on their plate, begging the question “Do you know what you’re really eating?” The interactive dining experience will include a hearty discussion on seafood fraud with Chef Deshayes, National Aquarium and Oceana experts.

We’re excited to host this dinner in partnership with Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. 

Can’t wait until Wednesday’s dinner to sample the amazing dishes Chef Deshayes has prepared? Try out his recipe for Escabeche-Style Grouper with a Warm Fingerling Potato Salad:

Ingredients for the Escabeche

  •  1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper corn
  • 16 to 24 ounce of black grouper fillet (or any other local, sustainably-sourced grouper) cut on 4 ounce pc.
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  •  1 medium shallot, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’espelette
  •  1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 strips lemon zest

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Pat the grouper dry and toss to coat with the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add the grouper to the pan. Cook on each side for 1 minute.
  3. Using tongs or a fish spatula, transfer the grouper to a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, thyme, coriander, piment d’espelette, white wine, vinegar, and lemon zest. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour the marinade over the fish. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 12 hours.

Ingredients for the potato salad

  • 1 pound boiling fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup of whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoons of whole grain mustard

Directions

  1. Drop the fingerlings potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  2. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Keep the fingerlings potatoes warm. In a bowl mix the whipped cream and whole grain mustard, verified seasoning (reserved for presentation)
  3. At the serving time place on each plate some of the potatoes salad in a center and place the grouper on the top of it. Add a dash of mustard whipped cream on top and a serve.

Want to learn more about our Fresh Thoughts program or reserve tickets for our upcoming dinner in Washington, DC? Click here

Thoughtful Thursdays: Endangered Species Spotlight on Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Animal Rescue Update

Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles are the smallest of all the sea turtle species and are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN. “Small” is a relative term for sea turtles, as the Kemp’s can weigh as much as 80 to 100 pounds as adults, and their shell can grow to about 2 feet long. Their carapace (top shell) is usually heart-shaped and brown to grey in color.

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A rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley turtle being released by National Aquarium staff.

Kemp’s ridley’s are highly migratory and seasonal visitors to Maryland waters. They can often be found in coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast, from late May to October. While here, they feed on an assortment of crabs, shellfish and jellies, and will occasionally munch on seaweed. Cooler water temperatures in the fall signal the turtles to migrate south – reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their internal body temperature is dependent on the water temperature.

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One of our current rehabilitation patients munching on a blue crab.

Along the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late fall and early winter, Kemp’s can become victims of cold-stunning. Cold-stunning is effectively hypothermia (low body temperature), which causes the turtles to stop eating and ultimately become severely sick. The 2012 cold-stun season was a record for the northeast. We currently have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in rehabilitation with our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team, and both were admitted as cold-stuns.

kemp's ridley

Since being listed as an Endangered Species in 1994, the US and Mexico have worked cooperatively to protect critical nesting habitats for the Kemp’s, resulting in an increase in successful nesting and hatching. Kemp’s still face many threats, though, many of which are human-related. The good news is that YOU can help protect Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations!

Stay tuned for more features on endangered species this week! 

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Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Q&A with Chef Chris Becker

About next week’s featured Fresh Thoughts chef, Chris Becker of Fleet Street Kitchen

A Baltimore native and veteran of several of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants, Chef Chris maintains deep

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relationships with local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. His contemporary American cuisine at Fleet Street Kitchen is defined in conjunction with the seasonal produce of Cunningham Farms, the restaurant owner’s farm in Cockeysville.

A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, Chef Chris spent time in the kitchens at The Brass Elephant, Linwoods, and The Wine Market in Locust Point. He was noted as one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine and identified as one of “Ten Professionals Under 30 to Watch” by the b newspaper.

At Fleet Street Kitchen, Chef Chris combines both traditional and modern techniques, creating elegant dishes that reflect his intense devotion to his craft.

Can’t wait for next week’s dinner? We chatted with Chris about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region: 

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?

Because I’m new to Maryland seafood, I’m really excited to start using soft-shell crab, which is one of Maryland’s local sustainable seafood products. It’s a really interesting ingredient and very versatile in the way it can be presented, so I’m sure you’ll see it on the menu at Fleet Street Kitchen soon.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?

I think more and more chefs are becoming conscientious about sustainable seafood and this in change is influencing our guests to think about it as well. Because we’re by the Chesapeake Bay, I think it’s easier for people to make the connection between how we fish and the seafood we serve. People are definitely appreciating it more. At Fleet Street Kitchen, we make sure all of our seafood choices are based off the Seafood Watch list and only select the seafood listed as “Good” or “Good Alternative.”

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?

All the great product that’s not sustainable makes it difficult. There’s some great tasting seafood that is overfished. We recently had to stop using monkfish, because it is now in the red on the Seafood Watch List. It’s unfortunate, but it it makes me more creative and exposes people to different types of fish that perhaps they wouldn’t necessarily try.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?

Lionfish & Snakehead. Both are invasive species that are threatening key ecosystems. Lionfish are damaging coral reef ecosystems across the oceans and are actually a great tasting fish. It’d be great to see more of it on Baltimore menus. Snakehead are doing the same here in the Chesapeake Bay. There has been a lot of great press about using snakehead in restaurants. I’m definitely hoping to use both at Fleet Street Kitchen.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …

My hope is to pass along Fleet Street Kitchen’s passion for sustainable seafood and for people to make the connection between the way seafood is harvested and what is on their plate. It’s also important for people to know that they can ask if a fish is sustainable in a restaurant. This lets a restaurant’s chef and staff know that there’s a demand for conscientious ingredients. Most restaurants will appreciate this, even if they aren’t currently serving sustainable products.

To learn more about our sustainable seafood program and other conservation initiatives, click here


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