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AdventureFoodNautical Pursuits

Free Range Life, and Dinner too

September 12, 2016 — by Ian Ritter

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Let me start by saying I have some amazing friends.  friendsSeriously, I do.  Look at those beautiful animals!  I’m almost positive they were supposed to be at work and called in sick because I was in town.  So, yea, that’s a boat behind the truck and off we go!

The dude in the picture actually loaded my broken, bleeding self onto a stretcher to the hospital after a particularly memorable day back in 2007, but that’s a story for another time.  In this story, we are talking about how epic the Pacific Northwest is.

I have been extremely fortunate to be able to travel for my job.  With the whole, “I’m a pilot thing,” comes the “I can jumpseat all over the world for free thing too.”  It works out great for someone like me who loves nature and just being part of this little slice of heaven, earth.  IMG_9439Every so often, I am able to get out to one of my favorite spots called, “Neah Bay.”   It is situated at just about the tippy top of the North West, of the Pacific North West.  It is remote, but has a beautiful road that weaves along the rugged coast.  The whole drive is magical to me.  You pass old growth rain forests, huge snow-capped peaks, and can often see entire mountain ranges on the way there.  From my friends house, you have to endure 3.5 hours of those tortuous views that just leave you breathless and humbled before you arrive at your equally magical destination.

Because of how remote this area is, not to many people make the trek, so I was surprised to find this beautiful scene here on the shoreline, miles from anywhere.  IMG_9437It made me really happy to think that two people found this little beach, took the time to gather up all the shells and leave these hearts for someone else to find.  It was a  sure sign that it was going to be a killer day out there.

Our mission out here is generally to partake in some nautical pursuits which frequently involves spotting whales, seals, and hopefully catching some fish.  Today was a day of free diving the forests of the sea, the kelp beds.  The water was clear and cold (52 degrees), krill were everywhere and we even had a couple stellar sea lions check us out.  They were beautiful and peaceful, and also large and terrifying.  We were relieved they kept their distance, although you could tell they wanted to get closer.  We of course had a great IMG_9438time in the kelp, and even nabbed a few fish for dinner.  But the unique treat of the day (aside from the sea lions) was an ocean scallop I spotted on a rock.  After a few dives, I was able to stuff him in the wet suit and add him to the dinner list.  img_9454

We of course had an amazing drive home, through the same stunning views and arrived back with time to cook up dinner.  These are the best pictures I got of the adventure, next time, I promise to take more.

FoodNautical Pursuits

Grilled Permit with Feta, Tomato, and Balsamic Sauce

August 18, 2016 — by Ian Ritter

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Good food is like a beautiful girl. They both look best when they have the least on.

girl waking upSeriously, think about it!  When was the last time you were just waking up and looked at your significant other as they sleepily looked at you and smiled as the morning sun washed the bed, and thought to yourself, “dude, I totally wish  she had on more clothes right now.” You’ve never done it.  Not one freaking time.  And there is a perfectly logical explanation for that!  She is perfect right now, totally natural, and it is in that natural state that real, perfectly flawed beauty is found.  The same holds true for fresh, real ingredients.

clearing inlet permit runBefore we dive into the meal, let me tell you how I came upon the main ingredient, the Permit.  I was lucky enough to snag a solo boat trip late in the afternoon and decided to run to a secret spot.  Per usual, I always have my speargun on

the boat just in case I see something in the ocean grocery that I want to take home.  On this occasion, I came upon this massive school of fish, grabbed my float line, jumped in the water, and speared some dinner.

Maybe I’ll write more about that in the nautical pursuits section, but for now, lets hit the food.

Fresh Permit.  You’ll never get it in the grocery, but it is a real treat.  Super firm, very flaky and a smooth, almost buttery taste.  Because I happened to have a number of different ingredients, I rocked it out three different ways.

IMG_9916 editMain course was grilled up, nice and easy (so that it was almost medium rare when I took it off), then a simple balsamic sauce (equal parts balsamic and olive oil in bender, salt and pepper and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard…blend it till smoooooooth), hit it with some fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese.  The creamy Feta with the tang of the balsamic combine with the sweetness of the tomato to be the perfect flavor when you take a bite of the firm grilled seared fish.  In my opinion, this flavor combo wouldn’t work if the fish wasn’t grilled with some marks on it.  It’s just this huge hit of simple, but familiar flavors all coming together at the perfect time.

IMG_9920 editJust for fun: Permit Ceviche.  I did the usual lemon/lime mixture, but I wanted to crank it up a notch and added some coconut water as well as oil, just a little bit of cayenne pepper and sugar.  Then a few avocado chunks to offset how firm the fish is and provide some creamy goodness.  the busted coconut seemed like the best place for it.   And last but not least, the Permit sashimi.  Honestly, not my fav.  It is way too firm for me.  This stuff is definitely better cooked.

Overall, this was a fantastic meal, especially because it was so simple.  It just goes to show, that even when you’re tired from being in the boat all day, you can still whip up a killer meal.

Food

Lion fish Ceviche and Snapper

August 18, 2016 — by Ian Ritter

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The incredible, edible (and delicious) Lion fish

So you’ve probably heard about the invasion.  You know, the invasion of florida waters by non-native and invasive lion fish?  Well if you haven’t, they’re a fish, they’re here and they are bad news for our reefs.  Luckily for us, they also happen to be one the tastiest morsels our ocean has to offer!

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The ocean was total glass, the sky was clear, the water was a deep sapphire blue, and warm as bath water.  If you can imagine driving a 22ft boat on a huge bowl of liquid sapphire, a never ending horizon and some Led Zeppelin playing over the stereo as I steered a course to my reef, then you would be imagining the day I was having.  Seriously epic stuff.

The mission today was to dive (of course) but also to help ease the burden on our local ecosystems by harvesting some lion fish for dinner.  This mission was expertly accomplished and a number of the invasive, but tasty fish were put on ice.

Once home, I already knew what I was going to do…

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The lion fish meat is extremely tender (not mushy) but tender, and has a wonderful and delicate flavor that I hate to alter it too much.  Tonight was going to be ceviche night.  To me, there isn’t much better than a tangy, sweet, natural bite of fresh fish ceviche style.  For the uninitiated, this just means that the fish is allowed to marinate in some acidic lemon and lime juice and seasonings for a while. It actually gets, “cooked,” while in there.

So, more lime than lemon juice, salt, pepper, some sugar, tomato, and green onions were added as well as the lion fish.  After 15 mins in the fridge, it was ready.  I dusted just a tiny bit of smoked Hungarian paprika and it was truly one of the best meals of my life.

The green onions are from a beautiful garden in Virginia and I was lucky enough to make use of them. Here, the Onions, Red Peppers, Tomato await the ceviche. There is also just a tiny bit of finely minced raw garlic for that extra kick.
The green onions are from a beautiful garden in Virginia and I was lucky enough to make use of them. Here, the Onions, Red Peppers, Tomato await the ceviche. There is also just a tiny bit of finely minced raw garlic for that extra kick.

Oh yeah, I also cooked up some mangrove snapper.  Bread flower, no batter, just into a pan of butter an olive oil (would have been way better with coconut oil) sear it up, take it off while still medium rare and it was perfect.

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I hope you enjoyed the post.  If you made it through the whole thing, way to go!  Be sure to check out my other posts!  If you have a food idea or suggestion, please send it to us!