Posted by: Waheeda Harris | November 12, 2012

Farm to table seafood

I grew up with a lot of people who said they didn’t like fish and seafood. I couldn’t understand why. How do you not like entire food group?

But I slowly realized that a lot of them had been introduced to a pale tasteless version – something frozen or shaped in rectangles and called fish.

So I soon began to encourage those people to take the opportunity – by trying something fresh and close to its source.

Now its de rigeur to eat like this, and I’m happy to see so many people get interested in what they’re eating and how it came to their plate.

Visiting central California, the wide range of local was overwhelming, and including one rarity – an abalone farm.

This mollusk was plentiful up and down the west coast of North America, but overfishing made them scarce and almost disappear. Now they’re considered a rarity fresh from the sea, but thanks to a farm near Cayucos, there are many people enjoying fresh abalone.

The farmer explained to me that Asia used to be his main market – he was shipping fresh abalone from California to Hong Kong and Tokyo. But the tide has turned and he now sends most of his sustainable farm-raised abalone to the tables of New York City and Los Angeles.

To see the five years he has to invest in each abalone and watch them grow from tiny specks to larger shells – and then within 24 hours of making the big time, they’re on someone’s dinner plate. Thanks to Sunset Savor the Central Coast food tours, I was able to learn about The Abalone Farm.

I happily sampled the farm fresh abalone – served grilled and a smoked version served as a ceviche. I wished a few friends were with me – those who may have doubts but would be converted to love fresh seafood when they tasted what I had.

As I enjoyed every bite I thought about the five years that went into each abalone and raised my glass to this farmer, who made it his goal to continue to raise sustainable seafood.

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