“Chefs have the power to destroy. We also have the power to restore and heal.” –Barton Seaver
Seaver was the speaker at the South Carolina Aquarium‘s lecture series Monday night where he discussed restoring the “relationship between the ocean, land and each other — through dinner.” Seaver, a former Chef and now National Geographic fellow and author, spent time traveling through Spain and Morocco and working in sustainable environments that helped shape his perception of food as an essential part of community.
I have a whole page of notes with snippets like “intrepid and adventurous,” “Benthic ecosystem,” “So do we…with our forks,” and “Man living on the very edge.” Of course, they all made more sense when he was speaking, but that’s just a testament to how slow typing on my phone goes sometimes. I did get some actual whole sentiments, however, best of which is “It’s not about finding more fish to feed more people, it’s about better feeding them with what we have.” This guy has got it right, folks.
“It’s our patriotic duty to eat oysters.”
The guys behind the food at Fleet are tuned into this idea, as well: that it is our responsibility as consumers to make sustainable choices in an effort to save the food chain. It’s this thinking that led us to the Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative in 2006, gold partner in 2009, and as of Monday, Platinum Partner! At the event, we were presented with the SSI’s 2011 Partner of the Year award and surprised with the news that our menu had just passed assessment for platinum that afternoon (thanks in part to the dedicated hard work of one Megan Westmeyer, pictured here with Executive Chef Drew Hedlund and Sous Chef Brian Barber AKA the Lionfish Whisperer). As the award took into consideration not only our menu assessment but participation in several SSI events throughout the year, including a Sustainable Dinner featuring Lionfish, it shows the amount of work Chef Drew and his guys have put into this achievement!
“We seek to nourish with far more than calories.”
Seaver has a great book out (From Cod to Country…graphically designed by his adorable wife, Carrie Anne) filled with recipes based on seasonality, a fantastic glossary filled with tips on tools, cooking basics, and tricks of the trade. Until our cookbook comes out, this one is a fantastic first!
Serious thanks to Seaver for travelling here to speak to our humble but interested audience. And I’ll leave you with the sentiment he left with us: “Eat with joy so that we may continue to partake in the bounty of the seas.”
See you on the deck!
Filed under: Events | Tags: festival, Food, heirloom tomatoes, seafood, wine
September brings a few things here in the South: cooler weather (albeit only slightly), college football, oyster roasts, and one of our favorite events…the Wine + Food Festival Launch Party! Although the actual festival isn’t until the first weekend in March 2012, the tickets go on sale the day of the launch party, and a lot of events actually sell completely out before the day hits noon!
So, the launch party: held at the beautiful Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina (just across the river from lil ol’ Fleet Landing), this event brings together some of Charleston’s best and favorite chefs, wine distributors, food trucks, and all of the gourmands that are looking to catch up after a busy summer.
Chef Drew has been working with North Carolina farmer Hilda Tipton and her Tomato Art Company on getting heirloom tomatoes in every color (she even has pink ones!) for a tomato tartlette that will be featured in our restaurant week menu starting next week, and this was the perfect occasion to spotlight those little beauties. They were a crowd favorite with our booth selling out about 45 minutes into the event!
We continue to be thrilled at being a part of this wonderful local event, and we hope to see you in March!
So, if you haven’t read this month’s Food + Wine, you must. There are several great recipes and articles, including this one about lionfish. We at Fleet Landing might be *justthetiniestbit* obsessed with lionfish. They’re ugly and venomous and hard to get a hold of, but gosh darn it, they’re TASTY! If you don’t know much about lionfish, let me explain the phenomenon:
Lionfish are native Indonesian swimmers that Americans began importing for cool aquarium finds awhile back. Several hurricanes (you might remember Andrew, Floyd or Opal) that hit Florida in the 90s (and subsequently broke some of those rather expensive aquariums…) contributed to a small population of lionfish hitting the reefs. Because of their incredible ability to reproduce, their numbers multiplied exponentially and they soon became a real threat to the reefs and other swimmers around them.
It’s taken some time, but it was finally realized that the only way to control the problem was to, well, control the population. And, as the article states, “…the only creature that has shown any interest in eating the venomous, invasive lionfish, thus far, is us.” So chefs around the country have banded together and started hosting dinners featuring the little buggers, putting them on their menus as much as possible to try and not only get some out of the water but get the word out! As you’ll read in the article, however, these guys are pretty hard to catch. They have venomous spines, they’re relatively sneaky, and they seem to learn from experience…catch attempts only make them smarter.
One of our sous chefs, Brian Barber, is always on the prowl. Our resident “Lionfish Whisperer” has several sources (none of which he’ll reveal, of course) that he’s constantly hounding for more product. Thanks to all of his hard work, we got a shipment last week, and I got to experience the process from start to finish. I have to admit, it was quite funny watching Brian struggle to get the venomous spines off (managing to give himself a sting in the process), but it’s all worth it in the end! Check out the pictures here, and keep in touch with us on twitter and facebook for upcoming news about our secret shipments!
Filed under: Specials | Tags: aquarium, lionfish, local, oysters, seafood, sustainable
Although Fleet Landing has been a part of the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative for several years, we reached Gold Partner status last year. It is a formidable task, to say the least, as our menu was submitted for extensive review by Megan Westmeyer, Coordinator of the SSI, and the rest of the team!
As we have been partnering more closely with the Aquarium and the SSI, we decided to do a Dinner earlier this month. The SSI has done monthly dinners at restaurants and venues throughout the city, and we were thrilled to participate! Chef Drew carefully constructed a menu that included interesting and delicious but also sustainable products from the local region, including Atlantic Red Crab Claws, Triggerfish, Local Bulls Bay Oysters, and the most exciting…Lionfish.
Lionfish have been a hot topic as of late due to their destructive nature. Although native to the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, they have made their way to our region, most likely to their release by home aquarium owners. Because of their venomous spines, they have few predators in the area. In addition, they can eat items up to 3/4 their size and females can produce 2 million eggs in one year. All of this adds up to one problematic species! Chefs along the Eastern Seaboard have begun trying to rid the waters of these little fishies by offering them as specials as well as participating in special dinners to raise awareness.
It took a lot of effort, even more phone calls, and undoubtedly caused quite a few gray hairs to try and get a large enough supply to provide for our dinner! Thanks to our sous chef, Brian (now nicknamed the Lionfish Whisperer), and Chef Drew, we were able to put together a fantastic dish for our SSI dinner guests. We had a great time putting on this dinner, and I dare say the guests had an even better time enjoying. With five courses, including the Lionfish, and wine pairings for every one, several people left wishing we did a dinner monthly!
For more pictures from the event, click here.
For more information on the South Carolina Aquarium and the Sustainable Seafood Initiative, click here.
For more information on Jeff Spahr and local Bulls Bay Oysters, click here.
So, Chef has a brilliant idea last week: let’s take the boat out, meet up with Jeff Spahr (our local oyster guy), and see how the whole process happens. I immediately agree, as I love the water, and we make a plan…for 6:30 am on Friday. Eek, that’s early! But awaken early I did, and off to the water we went.
After a little time searching for Jeff, we found our oyster man covered in pluff mud, pulling bushel after bushel out of the waters of the Bulls Bay creeks.
Chef suited up in his waders and jumped in for a lesson on how to harvest the right ones, what to knock off back into the water, how clusters and singles are differentiated in the water, etc.
I knew harvesting oysters couldn’t be easy, but who knew it was such truly such back-breaking work?! Jeff works hard for these oysters, my friends!
It’s a very delicate environment out here…everything is a factor from the temperature of the water to the strength with which it moves. It’s amazing how much I did not know about oysters! For example, they can take between 3-5 years to grow, depending on how much water (and therefore nutrients) they get. This was a fascinating lesson, indeed!
Thanks so much, Jeff, for showing us the ropes out there!
Visit our Facebook page to view the rest of the pictures.
Filed under: Events, Food, Restaurant | Tags: charitable, charity, Charleston, dining, local, seafood, sustainable, waterfront
…and the living is easy! We’ve been so involved in projects around the Lowcountry this summer, there’s barely been time to tell you all about them! Now’s my chance, so here I go…
Have you ever been to Dewee’s Island? I hadn’t, and when were asked to participate in the Sustainable Seafood Initiative Dinner alongside the South Carolina Aquarium, we jumped at the chance! Along with Chef James Clark of Waterscapes at the Marina Inn in Myrtle Beach, Chef Kurt D’Aurizio of the Divine Fish House in Murrels Inlet and the rest of the SSI crew (including our very good buddy, Megan Westmeyer), we headed to Dewee’s by ferry. About 40 residents participated in the dinner which featured sustainable ingredients like soft shell crab, triggerfish and local veggies. It was a great event, and we can’t wait to go back!
May brought the return of a great local event, the Charleston Yacht Affair. Owners open their yachts (docked at Megadock) to restaurants and participants alike, with proceeds benefiting Communities in Schools. Alongside some of our favorite restaurants including 39 Rue de Jean, Bambu and Halls Chophouse, it was a wonderful event (the weather could not have been more perfect!), and so many fun people participated (including the folks at Krewe of Charleston).
The South Carolina Aquarium is the most amazing location for a special event, and July’s Brew with a View was no exception! We set up amongst other Charleston favorites like SNOB and Pearlz and put out Atlantic Crab Cocktails with Honey Horseradish Dipping Sauce (definitely a favorite!). The beer we were paired with was awesome, too…Brooklyn Brewery‘s Lager. The coordinators at the Aquarium said they sold double the amount of tickets for this event over last year!
We’ve had a great summer and are looking forward to a busy fall including Restaurant Week: September 8-19, featuring our 3 for $30 menu of delicious treats.