Pickled String Beans ala Catalina Express Bloody Marys

And it counts as a daily serving of vegetables.

It’s a rainy day here in Los Angeles and my mind of course turns to pickling. Specifically, in my case, it turns to  the pickled string beans that are served in the Catalina Express’ plastic-cupped splash of tomato sunshine. For those of you that are regular visitors to Avalon and Casino Pt, you know there is nothing better after a day or weekend on the island than one of these bloody buddies to pass the time on your quick ride home to the mainland. I don’t say this too often, but it is the greatest drink ever invented and little known fact is that the magical key to it deliciousness is a little pickled bean.

Now I hear what you when you say “There is no way that this bean could be the key to this lovely libation OSD?” I answer that with “Go to hell and don’t back sass.” I suppose I would probably then feel kind of bad for telling you to go to hell and backtrack a little bit, conceding that is probably only just really good but you should try it. Then we’d make plans to go out to Catalina at some point, probably forget about it and talk about the great price on printer paper at Staples the next time we ran into each other. We’ll I’m going to take the bull by the horn my friends and make it easy for you to enjoy this treat in the dark lonely privacy of your one-bedroom apartment by giving you a recipie how you can recreate the channel-crossing classic in your own living room/kitchen(if you live in a studio.) You’ll save time and money and you won’t have to rinse out your dive gear to get it done. So sit back and relax and enjoy while I unwrap the mystery of the bean.

Ingredients for you brine

  1. 5tbls kosher salt.
  2. 1 tsp dill seeds.
  3. 1/2 cup white vinegar.
  4. 1 tbls Pickling spice
  5. 1 tsp peppercorns
  6. 5 cups water
Beans are truly a magical fruit.

Combine these ingredients and boil for 3 minutes. Give it a little space as the boiling vinegar can be a wicked surprise to  your nose. Then let it cool completely. Pour over blanched beans or haricot vert, garlic cloves and dill sprigs  into mason jars or some other non-reactive container.  Seal them up and put them in the back of your fridge.

This recipe will give you about a pound of bad-ass beans after the 3 weeks it takes to pickle to full strength. Then just add your favorite bloody mary recipe and some ice and you’ll soon be feeling the sea beneath your feet. Then the rug against your face. Then nothing but I digress. This is a great bean and the recipe also works for pickles so get your dive on and enjoy a great part of the California dive experience today


Happy Thanksgiving!


Bacon Bombs Baby!

Though we’re taking it inland for turkey instead of seafood this week, we can still enjoy a good holiday laugh. Here is an unaired Saturday Night Live sketch about Food Network personality and Sonoma County Resident Guy Fieri. Anybody ever have a bacon bomb after getting a few reds?

Deco Stop – Naja’s in Redondo Beach

Gateway to goodness(BTW I can’t read the second line either.)
Weekends weren’t made for just Michelob

Situated on the bottom level of the Redondo Beach International Boardwalk sits one of our favorite locations to decompress, Naja’s Place. It’s home to over 88 beers on tap and hundreds more of the bottled type.  It’s easily the most impressive beer list you’ll find within walking distance of a dive spot anywhere in California. To paraphrase the Bard, “Variety, thy name is Naja’s. “The glassware come in equally large sizes to match the lengthy beer menu and at really reasonable prices – $6 for a pint and $8 for the 24 oz schooner.

Good looking crowd is often on hand

As large as the beer menu is, the food menu is surprisingly short but sweet. Standard burgers and fries are there but there are a few Mediterranean delights that are a holdover from the previous owners menu. I highly recommend the kabob plate and the goat plate( for the adventurous) . They grill it up and serve it with fresh pita and a variety of sides.

Naja’s Goat Platter

On weekends, this is also one of the classic places for people watching. It’s a mix of local beach crowd, yachties, and beer aficionados. Colorful and laid back. In describing the crowd at this dive for divers, it is accurate to say you’ll never be underdressed no matter how much you think you need a shower after hitting the canyon nearby. It’s also a real beachy bar in that it always is going to have the musty smell that is a combination of fresh-off-the-beach and desperate singles. There is live music most nights and on the weekends but I swear it’s the same cover band just doing different musical genre.

This is not a fancy place to bring a date. If you only like mixed drinks and shots, do not come here. If you like douchey bars with douchey music, do not come here. If you do want to relax and enjoy the open atmosphere and best beer selection a diver could imagine, then go and do your deco stop at Naja’s Place.

Click the logo to visit Naja’s Place

What to Eat? – Red Urchin Bruschetta

Small plate goodness from the sea

This time of year divers in So Cal tend to get a lot  bottom time looking for lobsters that would just make a dinner menus both perfect and complete. It’s a high value target and great for the grabbing  but it’s not the only tasty invertebrate in the ocean.  There are lots of other things that are really delicious to eat and readily available and we want to talk to you about them.

The first is the red sea urchin, a prickly yet delicious treat that most divers pass over time and time again while looking for higher profile targets like the spiny lobster or the ever elusive and dangerous abalone. Clustered in crevasses along California’s rocky reefs, these spikey sensations are one of the most versatile treats to be found statewide. The Japanese call them Uni but you’ll call them delicious, especially with this tremendously easy recipe that will allow you to enjoy  the briny taste of the ocean in an old world classic.

Finding them is not always a priority nor is it always easy, but when you get the chance, you should take advantage of it. Personally, I’m always foraging urchins when I’m trying to take lobster or abs, always carrying an aluminum rake with me to get them out of reef cracks.

Once I have a few in my bag the question is what to do with them and to that question there are many answers. One of my favorite recipes and also one of the simplest is to make Urchin Bruschetta.
To make this “app” work  for 4 people, you’ll need to at least 2 good size reds(1 lb each). You’ll also need the following ingredients:

1/4 yellow onion minced

1/2 tablespoon dry sherry

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest(thank god you already needed a lemon)

1/2 tablespoon cilantro

1/2 table spoon olive oil(EVOO for all you Rachel Ray viewers. Shame on you btw)

10 to 12 sea urchin gonads of love( see this link for cleaning and clarification)

A little kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper

Thick cut and toasted rustic bread(salt and olive oil toasted over a grill will make it perfect)

This is what will help you get the cleaning job done

Enough with the ingredients. On to the business at hand. Whisk together the first 6 on the list. Drop the urchin and S&P and gently fold in. Give it a few minutes to meld and then put them onto an appropriately toasted crusty bread. Eat, re-top, repeat. You’ll love it. It’s the briny creaminess of the urchin melding with Mediterranean techniques that provides a depth of flavor that will require any diver to make a safety stop.

It’s a great party starter or a quick treat right out of the water and at $14 per pound at local fish markets, you’ll be enjoying a diver’s treat when you take it yourself. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

A work station of gonaddy love