Blue Nose, Blue Blood

This time it was Blue Nose. It was always something, but it was always something special. There are places to buy things and there are places where it’s an adventure to buy things. One of those places is Osprey Seafood in the town of Napa. 

We brought home some fabulous Bluenose bass from New Zealand this time, but whatever we bring home from there is always delicious. Why? Why are some merchants so much better than others? The fish at Osprey is more-or-less the same price as Whole Foods just down the road, but it is always, always better. Certainly it is more expensive than the seafood offerings of Safeway, but food that is inedible is never cheap enough.

The “why” is simple. They care at Osprey. They care in a way you just don’t see behind the counter at a chain, even at the level of a Whole Foods. At the likes of Safeway it’s not an issue of excitement as they have little interest or knowledge in what they’re selling. 

It’s always amazing at Osprey as, in spite of the fact they deal with fish day in and day out, they’re excited about today’s special arrivals. It’s that ability to be excited that makes them go out of their way to have something to be excited about. 

What’s happened to that excitement in the wine industry? Cynical buyers, loaded with attitude, but with closed minds who have already decided what wines are the best by the time they’re twenty-five. Their counterpoints are ego driven, “lifestyle” wineries more interested in points than quality, which pump out over-oaked, high octane, insanely priced fruit bombs.  All of the above driven by someone else’s pointed opinion instead of their own. True enough there’s a lot to be not excited about.

However, once a month, I get a package that reminds me that there still exists, in the increasingly corporate wine world, merchants filled with passion, excitement and energy that is all their own. That package is the monthly shipment I get from the Kermit Lynch Wine Club, one of the privileges of living in California.

Each package is a voyage of discovery. Not that I do not know some of the wines that arrive, but each shipment is an inside look at the mind of the Kermit Lynch company. The energy and commitment in that collective mind is clear in the quality and distinctive personality of each bottle that arrives. 

For about $40 a month you get two bottles of interesting wine. While that should not be an unusual thing, it is, and the arrival of each package makes me think about the wines we make. As always, there is no greater compliment you can give a wine than it makes you think. Any wine that costs more than $10 a bottle should at the very least make you notice you are drinking it. 

Kermit Lynch, Osprey and merchants like them are the blue bloods, the royalty of the merchant class. While it is said you get what you pay for, it is more than that. There are many places to get above average, but there are few places where you can travel together as excited explorers sharing the energy that discovery brings to those that share in the adventure together. 

You’ll never get this experience at Cost Plus, Trader Joe’s, Costco or any chain operation. You’ll also not save any money by shopping at these chains unless you insist on buying overpriced, industrial wines that are only pretenders to the throne. Yes, if you want to buy Silver Oak these are your places. However, the Osprey’s and Kermit Lynch’s of the world are the ones offering true value. 

There’s a sucker born every minute. Don’t be a sucker. Buying smart means not buying hype. It also means not buying on price alone. Smart buyers buy based on price and the energy and effort the merchant puts into bringing them the very best.

A Kermit Lynch selection with an Osprey selection makes not only for a wonderful dinner, but money well spent.

Spring Salmon

Wild Salmon with Blueberry Marinade
1 pound of wild salmon

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Place salmon on baking sheet.

Add all marinade ingredients to small saucepan and heat over medium until blueberries have popped. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour mixture into blender and puree.

Spread a thin layer of the marinade over the salmon - you don’t want to mask the flavor of the salmon just enhance it.

Bake at 500 F for about 10 - 15 minutes depending on how thick the fillet and how well done you prefer your fish. I prefer that the salmon seem a little uncooked in the very center.

Slice the salmon into serving pieces and dollop with a bit of the remaining marinade.

Fresh Wild Salmon Painting the Salmon Salmon with Blueberry Marinade

From the:

Culinary Fool: Spring Salmon.

Potato Pancake Halibut and Arugula Salad

Potato Pancake Halibut and Arugula Salad

serves 4
1 shallot chopped
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp cracked pepper
1 tsp chopped dried thyme
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
Four 6 oz halibut fillets
Potato Pancakes:
2 medium potatoes shredded
1 slightly beaten eggs
1 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup onion chopped
Mix all ingredients together, pan fry in oil 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Makes 4 nice potato pancakes.
Arugula Salad:
1 bunch arugula
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine shallot, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread over fish and marinate for 30 minutes. To make salad, place arugula in a bowl. Whisk together vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with arugula. Place on four individual plates. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add fish, skin side down. Sauté for 2 minutes, cover with lid, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 8 minutes longer or until fish is firm to the touch and white juices are beginning to appear. Remove skin and place fish on top of potato pancake and arugula salad on serving plates.


Sara’s Kitchen.