Only 5 more days ’til the weekend

Hoping you had a great diving weekend from your friends at California Fine Diving

Monday mornings come way to early after a fun weekend

Deco Stop – Firestone Brewery

Not a lot of folks venture out from the central coast to enjoy what I believe to be is some of the most underrated diving to be had in our great state. From Gaviota north up to Monterey, there are literally dozens of spots where breathtaking underwater vistas can be enjoyed by those hardy enough to brave the surf. Surprisingly easy to get to by simply following the 101 and 1 highways, adventure is never more than a few hours away nor is one of the best places to get a beer in all of California, the Firestone Brewery and Tap-room.
Located about halfway between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo,  Firestone Brewery

Firestone Brewery and Tap-room

sits to the west side of the 101 freeway in Buelton. Started by a couple of local winemakers,  FB is home to some of the best micro-brew beers you’ve ever had the pleasure of introducing your taste buds to. Offering pints and growlers of their full line of beers including their  signature Double-Barrel ale, this is the perfect spot to get your drink on after a long day diving or driving. Food is also served and can be a little pretentious as they are trying to do a fine dining experience in the adjacent restaurant area. I personally stick with the complimentary pretzels and whole grain mustard. The real treat to be had here though is the unfiltered Double-Barrel ale on tap. This perfection in a pint glass can only be had here and if you’ve never had a fresh, unpasteurized beer just out of the barrel, then you need to load up your car and go. If it’s only a pit stop and you still, have a ways to drive, then have them fill up a 64 ounce growler to enjoy when you reach your destination.

Come for the beer, stay for the free pretzels

It’s very much a locals spot but the crowd is always friendly and the beer is always cold. What more could you ask for? That’s why Firestone brewery is a deco-stop we should all make,

Click here to visit the Firestone Beer website

Neptune’s Net will haul you in

When you’re out diving Deer Creek in southern Ventura county, you often get the feeling you’ve gotten pretty much away from it all, and for the most part you have. A fairly isolated and almost completely undeveloped dive spot, save for the stairs in and out, the only reminder you get that you are not alone in the wilderness  is the constant thrum of cars cruising up and down Pacific Coast Highway. Looking up and down from your roadside parking, you’re hard-pressed to see much of man’s handiwork anywhere nearby let alone a spot for a cold beer or quick snack. But fear not breathren of the bight, refreshments are only a few minutes to the north at a hip joint for post-dive relaxation called Neptunes Net.

Established in 1958, “The Net”, is a hole-in-the wall that plays host

Not a shrimpy platter in the house

to one of the most diverse clientele you’re likely to find anywhere in southern California. We’re talking hairy bikers, spandex bikers, gnarly surfers, beautiful Malibu-ians, and just about any other road warrior type you might think of. It’s the oasis for the wanderers out between Malibu and Oxnard and it’s well worth the visit. First off, it’s kind of a one-stop pit stop with coolers of beer, fresh seafood, and a welcoming, laid back atmosphere. It’s broken down into two parts with the first side being the live seafood market. Pick out what you want and they’ll steam it for you on the spot. The only way to get it any fresher is to bring it yourself from Deer Creek. The other side is all about the fried seafood. A myriad of combo platters awaits weary divers, providing whatever greasy sustenance they might need including some very tasty fish and

Patio diving on the weekend is a must-do activity

chips as well as fresh-tasting fish taco’s. And as if the food isn’t enough, there is one of the finest and most diversely stocked coolers a diver could hope to have waiting for them. Throw in a great location and vibrant atmosphere and you have all the makings of a classic post-dive shindig.

Weekends can be a little crowded of course but it really is worth getting caught in Neptune’s Net.

Click here to see the full menu at Neptune’s Net

Post-Dive Refreshment – Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale

***Does not contain actual Yellowtail.

I know it may be hard to believe but divers have been known to drink a beer or two post-dive and we at CFD thought we would like to help make your choice of beers less guesswork and more “yes”-work. Yes sir, we will not stop until we have tested as many beers as possible . That’s just the type of guys we are. So we’ll get the ball rolling here with Yellowtail Pale Ale from our good friends at Ballast Point Brewery in San Diego. A heady beer with the body and aroma of an IPA, this pale ale is a delicious light amber drink  more in the tradition of heavy German ales than some of the domestic  lighter ales in the market place these days. It is very hoppy and boy, do I mean hoppy. It’s  rabbit on bath salts hoppy. Hoppy I tells ya. It’s not overpowering however. It’s also a somewwhat heavy beer so you won’t want to be drinking a sixer. Luckily it comes in a big 24 oz bottle which IMHO is the perfect serving.  It’s well priced at about $4.99  a bottle and can be found in most major supermarkets. Try one out next time your post-dive on a cool fall day. It’ll do you right.

Click the photo to learn more about Ballast Point Brewing

The long arm of the Department of Fish and Wildlife

The lobster season runs until March 20. Information about state regulations on lobster fishing can be found here.

It’s lobster season again so it’s inevitable that some divers will think the laws don’t apply to them. This article hopefully will give them something to think about.

20-plus anglers accused of

poaching lobsters, other

violations article at the LA Times

Enjoy safe and legal hunting and report illegal activity to the DFW at  1-888-DFG-CALTIP

If you can’t grab ’em, nab ’em … at Santa Monica Seafood

With the 2012-13 lobster season a little more than 3 weeks old, California Scuba divers have had a good shot at getting a bug to boil, bake, or bbq. Hopefully you’ve all gotten a few but not every hunt ends with a bug in the bag so where do you go to get your lobster fix on? If you live up in the greater Los Angeles area or north Orange county, the place to go is Santa Monica Seafood. With two locations to serve your fish buying needs, SM Seafood offers a wide selection of fresh local lobster and fish. In addition, they also have sustainable aqua-farmed shellfish. In fact, SM Seafood is probably one of the most committed fish markets you’ll find when it comes to sustainable seafood, actively supporting catch-share fisheries in many different regions, including the ever-delicious Alaskan halibut, one of the best managed fisheries in the world.

Delicious oysters on ice. Hey, that’s nice.

One thing that’s also groovy about family-owned(since 1939) SM Seafood is that it’s actually the nicest smelling and looking  seafood market you’ll ever go to. You’ll be willing to admit you actually go there.

The fish mongers aren’t the only fresh things at SM Seafood.

So when the hunting gods frown on you for your neon green wetsuit or your ridiculous tech-rig for a 30 foot dive(seriously, just ridiculous), remember there is always a bug on ice for you at Santa Monica Seafood

Cleaner than a dive boat.

Sustainable Crispy-Skin Coho Salmon from Seafood Watch

In continued celebration of National Seafood month, here’s  a  new tasty and sustainable  recipe from our friends at Seafood Watch. What more could you ask for? It’s a lot of good things in one delicious dish. It can also be found here as well:  well

Sustainable Seafood Recipe

A robust sauce and Chinese style stir-fried vegetables complement the luxurious salmon. For delightfully crispy skin, sauté the fish skin-side down in a very hot pan. Add freshly cooked rice to the plate, and end with almond cookies and a mango and strawberry compote.Wild-caught coho salmon from Alaska is a “Best Choice” and coho caught in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia is a “Good Alternative.”
  • (Serves 4)
  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion
  • 1 tablespoon matchstick-size slivers peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons red miso
  • 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
  • 3 cups sliced bok choy
  • 4, 6-ounce coho salmon fillets
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 cup matchstick size slivers carrot
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or shallot
Crispy-skin Coho Salmon

Cut the stems from the mushrooms and place in a large measuring cup. Cut the caps into 1/2-inch pieces. Add enough of the cap pieces to the stems to measure 2 cups total. Reserve the remaining chopped caps for the vegetables.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a heavy, large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushroom stems and caps and sauté until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots and 1 tablespoon slivered ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the sherry and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Transfer the broth to a small bowl. Whisk the miso, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the canola oil into the sauce.

Cook the bok choy in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water 30 seconds to soften slightly. Drain well. Squeeze lightly to remove excess liquid.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Arrange the salmon skin side down in the pan. Cook until the skin is golden and crisp, pressing occasionally with a spatula to flatten, about 7 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook until it is springy to the touch and just opaque in the center when cut into with a small, sharp knife, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil and the sesame oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the reserved chopped mushrooms and toss to coat with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, sliced onion, minced ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until the vegetables are just crisp-tender, about 1 minute longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the vegetables among 4 warmed plates. Top with the salmon, skin side up. Drizzle the sauce over and around the fish and serve.

Hints from the Chef

  • To make matchstick-size slivers of ginger or carrot, cut into thin diagonal slices, fan out the slices on a work surface, and then cut into slivers.
  • Red miso, an intense paste made from fermented soy beans and rice, can be found in the refrigerated Asian section of the grocery store or in Japanese markets.
Susan Spicer

Susan Spicer
Bayona/MONDO, New Orleans, Louisiana


Good Alternative Coho Salmon

Wild-Caught Coho

Wild-caught coho salmon from Alaska is a “Best Choice” and coho caught in California, Oregon, Washington or British Columbia is a “Good Alternative.”



Eat at Joe’s

On any given weekend morning, head down to Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, and you’re likely to find 50 to 60 divers heading down to one of the top shore diving locations in Southern California. From openwater students to geeked-out tech divers, the submarine canyon and it’s adjacent subtidal shelf  plays host to hunger-inducing diving activities 52 weeks a year. So where do you go when your dive is done, you’ve made  the long walk up the stairs to your car, and packed up? Why you go and eat breakfast of course and in the South Bay, the place to chow is “Eat at Joe’s.”

Eat at Joe’s, located at 400 North Pacific Coast Highway, is a local landmark, having dished out a long list of local favorites for over 40 years. With communal-style seating, it’s where you can’t help but rub elbows with your neighbors as you enjoy an endless fresh cup of coffee to take off the chill of the canyon. That’s only the beginning as you’re tempted by a myriad of delicious breakfast and lunch choices. This includes my personal favorite, as well as being the dish that helped make Joe’s famous, the John Wayne Special.

John Wayne Special
John Wayne Special

Named after America’s finest dead actor, this dish is guaranteed to put the “hearty” in the hearty attack eating too many of these will cause. That being said, it’s a magnificent example of  layering flavors… literally. You start off with 2 flour tortillas, top it with a layer of cottage fried potatoes, add 2 sausage patties and over easy eggs, and liberally top with cheese and  Joe’s own enchilada sauce, and you’ve got a meal fit for a diver(please be sure to add wheat toast just to keep it healthy). It’s magnificent in all it’s glory. You’ll love it.

If you’re up for a sandwich or a burger, there are a lot of different options for you as well, like the triple-decker club.

Triple-decker club

if you come for the food, you’re going to stay for the atmosphere. It’s just a fascinating place to hang out with probably as diverse a crowd as you’ll ever find in the homogeneous South Bay. Old and young, short and tall, thin and round, you’ll see a little bit of everything here but there is nothing if not a cool, laid back beach -town vibe going on. Even as you wait in line to get your spot at one of the multiple benches, you can’t help but relax, knowing what awaits you on the  other side of the screen. It’s not perfection but it is where perfection goes to get a good breakfast.

Eat at Joe’s. You’ll be glad you did.

Joe’s Dining Room

Eat at Joe’s menu can be found here