Looking for a beer after a long day of diving and trying to find the kind of place where you can stand around in your boxers, enjoying one in a non-judgmental temple of apathy? Or are you looking for the type of place where you can randomly ask Mary Stuart-Masterson about that movie she did back in the 80′s with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson? (the delightful “Some Kind of Wonderful” FYI). If you can answer yes to both those questions, then you might be ready for the adventure that is The Marlin Club.
Located just off the main drag on Catalina Ave in Avalon, TMC is the oldest bar on the island and is what we here a CFD refer to as a character bar. Not that it has character but rather that it is filled with characters. You never know who is going to be in there. Yachties, divers, rugby players and Hollywood-types are just a few of the diverse clientele you’re likely to run into on a given Saturday night. Heck, the bartenders even live upstairs. That being said, it’s really a very non-intimidating place the lacks the feeling of desperation you’re likely to find in some of the other night spots on the island.
As for decor, it’s a non-descript theme that revolves around the boat-shaped bar with stools that always seem to be filled, no matter the time of day. Standard selection of beer, wine and spirits will keep you going including one of the few beer taps on the island. (It’s Michelob for some inexplicable reason.) There are your standard pool, darts and pinball to entertain as well as a couple of tv’s but the main attraction is the crowd. Usually loud but almost always friendly, it’s the type of place you’ll end up talking to the most random people but it will be entertaining I promise.
The sheriffs usually make last call around 1:30. At least it seems that way. That being said, once you experience The Marlin Club, it’ll leave a mark. That mark will sometimes be spiritual while other times being an actual mark. It’s the spiritual one however, that I’m sure will have you following the interesting looking crowd back, time and time again, to the to The Marlin Club.
I think I love abalone. Usually it’s sauteed in butter and wine and other times it’s being pleasantly surprised when I find one on a dive just hanging out between a rock and a hard case. Mainly I love them though because they are such a unique keystone species that’s integral to the grand ecosystem of marine life here in California. That being said, the complete destruction of abalone to the point of biological extinction here in the southern California bight does depress me. Whether it was pink, white, black, red, or green, this mollusk that once carpeted the local sub tidal zone and supported a huge multi-million dollar fishery is only a memory these days. It collapsed as it was fished to it’s sustainable edge because we we were confident we knew what we were doing. All the while as we fished our way through one abalone species after another, nobody counted on Mother Nature waiting in the wings with a particularly lethal strain called withering foot to provide the final nails in the coffin for the ab.
So basically they’re gone. Never to be seen again for the most part. It’s a hugely lamentable loss but I guess we have to accept it. Or do we?
In a recent Los Angeles Times article, South Gate Middle School was profiled for their efforts to raise green abalone in a classroom aquaculture environment. These efforts are are part of a larger program that challenges students to understand ocean sciences in ways that engage them personally. Developed by Nancy Caruso, a marine biologist and executive director of the nonprofit Get Inspired Inc, the program is operating in over a half -a-dozen schools in the southland and would like to expand to include a larger ocean abalone restoration project and they need your help, both personally and financially. So read the article below and also check out Get Inspired Inc and Nancy Caruso. It’s mission is something that all people who love the ocean can get behind.
Baffled by what fish is the best choice when the weather is rainy(Like today) and you have to go to the store to get your seafood fix on because you can’t catch your own stuff? Welcome to the club as conscientious folks all over California are asking the same questions at local markets and restaurants “What to order?” Luckily for about 200 people at Loyola Marymount University last night, The Los Angeles Food Policy Council set out to answer that question. Armed only with an array of delicious sustainable seafood samples and an equally impressively diverse array of experts to explain the what,where,why,when,and how of sustainable seafood, the LAFPC managed to educate, inform, and feed quite nicely a highly interested crowd.
As for the food, I could dazzle you right now with stories and photos of trout mousse, oysters Rockefeller, and smoked sable fish canapes but that wouldn’t be the point. What is important is that it’s foodie safe not to order the tuna, swordfish, or the chilean sea bass anymore. As Mary Sue Milliken, panelist chef of Border Grill and “Two Hot Tamales,” put it “Chef’s are creative” and making new food “sexy” is what they do. I feel in good hands.
From the scientific management standpoint, Mark Helvey of NOAA, as well as Sheila Bowman of Seafood Watch, made the argument that local is way to go. Tracking the sustainability of a local fishery and how the fish is brought to market is so much easier than trying to do the same thing with a shrimp brought in from Thailand. Fun, fascinating, and surprising facts that came out of the panel included that 70% of all seafood consumed is done through restaurants and that, according to Tim Aupperle of Whole Foods, consumers actually drive the buying practices of seafood retailers. That’s really good news.
I could spend a lot of time talking about how damaged and declined so many of our favorite fish choices have become but I don’t think that fear is the best way to move forward. Instead, I think we should take a different route by asking the right questions and influencing the people providing your seafood. Letting them know that you expect more and are willing to pay for your principles is just as important. That’s called market-driven change and is part of why economics are such a huge part of any sustainability solution.
In a time when popular and longstanding seafood stocks are either in decline or at risk as we fish our way down the food chain, making the right choice is just half the battle. We need to do better. The Los Angeles Food Policy Council just made our battle a little easier.
In our never ending though sometimes interrupted quest to bring you seafood options when you can’t catch your own stuff, we at CFD thought you might enjoy a chance to hear from a panel of experts about today’s sustainable seafood options. Presenting at Loyola Marymount University next Thursday the 27th at 6pm, these fish food aficionados will also shed a little light on what sustainable really means and how to be aware of your best options as you go from place to place looking to get your seafood eats on. Toss in tastings and it’s a intellectual feast for your ocean-minded brain that your stomach will back you up on.
In all seriousness, the panel will include representatives from NOAA, Seafood Watch, and Whole Foods Markets. Toss in legendary Los Angeles Chef Mary Sue Miliken(One Hot Tamale) and California State Senator Ted Lieu and you’ve got yourselves a broad spectrum of expertise and or a Fish Dance Party.
There’s never been a better time to think about how we eat from the ocean. As divers, we spend so much time in and around our local waters that we see the impact of non-sustainable fisheries every time we make a jump. If you been diving more than 20 years, you know how different things used to look down there. If you’ve been diving less than that you don’t know what you’re missing. Or what is missing. We’re talking whole species reduced to essentially biologically extinct populations. Most divers don’t know what an abalone looks like outside of pictures and probably never will. That’s the whole point of the sustainable seafood movement. To keep ocean species on your plate and out of the history books.
So come on by with your friends and eat, drink, and see Mary…Sue Miliken. Sponsored by the LA Food Policy Council and supported by such CFD favorites as Santa Monica Seafood and Heal the Bay, this event only costs $10 dollars. What a bargain! To RSVP and get more coherent information, click on the poster below.
With the recent passing of Body Glove founder Bob Meistrell and the complete remodeling of Dive n’ Surf in Hermosa Beach, I thought I’d share an old D n’ S ad from a 1966 issue of Skin Diver magazine. It is from a time when diving was viewed a little differently and the personalities driving the sport were a little bigger. The fish were as well i suppose. Now before everyone gets all worked up about the Giant Sea Bass in the photo, I’d like to point out that Bob became one of the biggest supporters in ocean conservation in the surf and dive industry, serving on the boards of educational institutions such as the Cabrillio marine Museum in San Pedro and the California Conservation Corps’ Sea Lab in Hermosa Beach. The ocean had no bigger supporter than Bob Meistrell. So enjoy as we at CFD share this remembrance of Bob and say thank you to him for all he did for people who loved the ocean.
Normally I enjoy getting reports about fishing and diving for the most part. They can show the excitement that other divers experience enjoying the California diving experience. I get excited reading them and think it supports the idea that, we as divers, are more of a community than we often realize. There are times however when I hate reading reports about diving such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s after-report concerning enforcement activities on opening weekend. Enjoy if you will some of the highlights of people who just can’t play by the rules:
• A wildlife officer rescued a diver in distress complaining of severe cramping in both legs. After the diver was towed back to his boat, he was found to be in possession of 10 lobsters, four of which were undersized. He was cited for an overlimit and released.
• Officers observed a boat anchored on the border of Blue Cavern SMCA with one man aboard and a diver with a light swimming in the MPA. When an officer jumped into the water, the diver turned off his light and attempted to outswim the warden to the boat, where another officer was waiting for him to surface. The suspect said he was “only looking” and did not have any lobsters. A second warden entered the water and found the fleeing diver’s game bag with lobster in it. After a search of the boat and gear, the men were found to have 21 lobsters. They were cited for an overlimit, failure to show on demand and diving in a marine protected area.
• At Santa Barbara Island, a diver attempted to distract officers with the classic “what’s that over there?” while trying to drop his dive bag. The warden put on his SCUBA equipment and retrieved the bag 60-feet below the surface. It was filled with nine lobsters, and the diver was cited for an overlimit.
Now granted this small sample may just look like there are a few hammerheads breaking the rules but the final numbers for the opener are actually quite startling. With 400 checks done on opening night, wardens issued 35 citations and 26 warnings. That’s 60 total, or about 15% of total fishers approached. That is a huge number. Extrapolate that number to a thousand effort-days of fishing and you’re talking about 150 violations of some type. Over the course of a season, the numbers just increase.
You can make a difference however. If you see people breaking the law there are things you can and should do. CDFW has an anonymous hotline to report poachers at 1888 DFG-CALTIP (888 334-2258). They’ll send a warden out as soon as possible to investigate and if a conviction results, you’ll be eligible for a reward. If you’re on a party boat, tell the captain or the divemaster. They have both a financial and professional interest in seeing that divers are harvesting legally.
The spiny lobster is in a precarious state in a lot of regards. We don’t really know the overall health of the fishery and there has been a lot of increased entry into the fishery with the new-found popularity regarding hoop-nets. It’s a time to make sure we as a community are playing by the rules today to insure a sustainable fishery in the future.
Okay “Lob-stars,” you’re almost 6 full days into the season and we here at CFD hope that you’ve been having a safe and productive start out there. There is almost nothing tastier than fresh lobster, hot out of the pot or off the grill, especially when you’ve caught it yourself. A beautifully cooked bug, some melted butter, and a cold beer can be one of the most satisfying meals you’ll ever eat. That’s not to say that it’s only way to go about enjoying our spiny friends however. So it is in the spirit of going the extra step to enhance your diving experience that we offer you Lobster Thermidor, a French treatment that you won’t be turning your nose up to.
Now as the name thermidor suggests, this epicurean treat is finished in a hot oven but it’s a delicious path your dinner guests of honor will circumnavigate before they enter those hallowed heated halls. Along the way, your meat will be treated to a hot bath before joining a delicious herbed-bechamel sauce in it’s own shell on the road to golden brown deliciousness. I’m talking cheesy, herbal, vineity goodness with a little crunch. Once you have it, you’ll want it over and over again.
So join us know as we travel to lobster nirvana with these easy to follow directions.
First off, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Then it’s lobster time. You’ll need the following:
- 2 legal lobsters giving you 2-2 1/2 pounds of meat.(Only 1 If you use a Maine bug, market size with claw meat).
- 2 lemons, halved
Bring a pot of salted water containing the lobsters to a boil. Add the lobsters, head first, and cook for 8-12 minutes. Remove them from the pot and place in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Once the lobster is done you move onto the bechamel sauce. It looks a little complicated but it’s not. Remember to take your time. Have all your ingredients pre-measured and ready to go. They are as follows:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped terragon
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mix for 2-3 minutes to develop a sauce base called a roux. It will be slightly golden and look a little like paste. Add the shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and milk. bringing the liquid to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Then add a little salt and pepper. At this point, remove the sauce from the stove and stir in the mustard and tarragon. It will smell amazing.
Finally, you want to put it all together and into the oven. You’re going to split the whole lobster in half and remove the tail meat. Retain the shell halves. Dice the tail meat and fold into the bechamel sauce. Stir in the 1/2 cup of cheese and check your seasoning.
Divide the mixture and spoon into the 4 lobster tail shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place them on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Lay the lobster halves face up on a plate and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley. Enjoy with a nicely chilled white wine until you are face down. Dive, rinse, and repeat as necessary over the course of the season.
We hope that you enjoy this recipe and well as the rest of the bug season. It’s a big ocean out there so remember to dive safe and take responsibly.