Getting Seafood Right: Passionfish
While we are continuously lamenting the fact that many restaurants sell over-fished and at-risk species, there are some restaurants that are getting it right. While in Vancouver at the annual SeaWeb Seafood Summit last year, I noticed that Vancouver supports an organization called Ocean Wise that partners with restaurants and fisheries throughout town, and grades the sustainability of the fish.
Like Monterey Bay Aquarium, they are attempting to educate seafood consumers about sustainability issues. Once a certain fish has been researched and declared sustainable, restaurants can place an Ocean Wise symbol by that dish on their menu, making it easier for consumers to make environmentally friendly seafood choices. Restaurants in Vancouver then can provide grading on each of the fish they offer, often with the server being able to describe to the customer where and how the fish was caught, down to what boat it as transported into Vancouver Bay upon.
The impressiveness of this organization in Vancouver made me begin to look at other restaurants that were attempting to provide sustainable seafood.
Restaurants such as Passionfish in Pacific Grove, California. This restaurant was started by Cindy and Ted Walter who are both advocates for the sustainable seafood movement, using their restaurant as a platform to educate to the public. Their restaurant was the first in Monterey County to be certified as “green” by the Monterey Bay Green Business Program and they both make presentations regularly to benefit the cause.
My dinner at Passionfish was delightful, with several selections of sustainable seafood to choose from, including appetizers. I enjoyed the mussels, prepared with a spicy tomato-cilantro broth and followed them with local pacific halibut, served with summer vegetables and a spicy tangerine-cilantro sauce. The entire dinner was delicious and environmentally conscious, even down to the menu, which stated across each page, “Most people don’t yet understand wild fish is now a luxury.”
Guests are provided a Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guide at the end of their meal. While interviewing them for OWOO’s “Ocean Heroes” series, Cindy remarked how she was deeply impacted by the fact her father and grandfather were fishermen, and she was taught which ways fishing was sustainable. Ted also commented that there is such a taste difference between sustainable items and those that are farmed unsustainably, saying the flavor is “incomparable.”
Although they admit it hasn’t been an easy road to turn entirely sustainable, they truly believe in what they are offering to the consumer, from their organic produce to their sustainable, and delicious fish. After eating there, I do too.