3 Beers for the Dive Days of Summer

Just as getting the right gear together for a dive needs to be a deliberate and thoughtful process to ensure a safe and enjoyable outcome, so does picking the right post-dive libations.  To help you along to that end, we offer up these three decompression delights from 3 different regions of California:

  1. Green Flash Brewing West Coast IPA – While it is brewery described as “a tantalizing menagerie of hops. Simcoe for tropical and grapefruit zest, Columbus for hop pungency, Centennial for pine notes,” it’s doesn’t taste as lame hipster as that. It’s actually a nice slow-drink IPA that is surprisingly light despite the 8.1% alcohol content. With it’s grapefruit juice like hue, you can almost convince yourself that you are getting your RDA allowance of vitamin c. You’re not but you won’t mind.




2) Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA – A heralded hop-head from Healdsburg, this Northern California  suggestion is the writers favorite. It has a great chew and a big hoppy flavor that drinks like a champ. It is the diver equivalent of Irish-food, satisfying and filling, perfect for a post-dive deco stop with an alcohol content of 7.5%.





3) Firestone Brewery Double Barrel Ale – The old hand on the list, this tasty beer has been brewed on the central coast for almost 20 years. Other craft brews have come and gone but this classic holds up very well and goes down very smooth. A full bodied ale with a great finish, this is the beer you want to crawl into after a boat out to Anacapa or Santa Cruz. With only a 5.0% alcohol content, you have to work pretty hard to do serious damage.



We know you have a lot to choose from when picking a end-of-the-day refreshment and wanted to share with you some of our favorites from over the years. Just remember that any beer shared with dive buddies is a good one. Except for Bud. Bud sucks.

CFD Editorial team hard at work tasting beer so you don’t have to!




Hog Island Oysters with Chipotle Horseradish Barbecue Sauce

A plate full of shell-packed goodness.
A plate full of shell-packed goodness.

I’ve spent a lot of time head down along the north coast searching for the ever delicious red abalone. Whether or not I pried one off the bottom, I still had to eat dinner. Lucky for all of us is that Nor Coast is also home to some of the the finest aquaculture products you’ll ever enjoy. So if you don’t score a few big red’s you can always enjoy some locally  raised oysters to fill the gap. Hog Island is the central place for aquaculture up north and they’ve provided us with a great way to enjoy their product.  This recipe is a perfect for an afternoon get together or even a formal fiesta. So get a grill, pop a beer, and enjoy a north coast treat.

So here is how you do it…

What you need for about 24 oysters:

  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clover honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground horseradish
  •  Sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 24 large oysters
  • A nice loaf of bread for dipping


1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Let the sauce cool and add in the horseradish. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside to let the flavors really meld.

3. Shuck your oysters and flip them in the bottom shell being careful not to lose the brine. it helps to put them on a flat try when your done for transport to the grill.

4. Fire up your grill to high and get ready to lay your shucked oysters.

5. Lay out your oysters with 1 tbsp of the sauce on top and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid down.

Some would say it’s a a little spicy, just like the author. I however would say I’m tall and really tasty, just like this recipe. So get to it. You can get great farmed oysters everywhere so make a batch for Memorial Day. You’ll be glad you did. Serve hot with bread and a nice white wine or IPA and make any day a special one.


Los Angeles Food Policy Council asks is your Seafood Sustainable? Feb. 27th at LMU

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.

Click here for tickets and more information

Bug Season Heats up with Lobster Thermidor

Two for dinner?

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:

  1. 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. 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.

Chef-tested in the CFD kitchens

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. 1/4 cup butter
  2. 1/4 cup flour
  3. 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  4. 1/4 cup white wine
  5. 2 cups milk
  6. 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped terragon
  8. 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.

This is how a good lobster shows its love

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.

When it Comes to Salmon, Don’t Buy the Farm

Sockeye Salmon heading home in Alaska

The idea behind CFD  has always been to give divers ways to enhance the dive experience and make it even more enjoyable,  if that’s even possible. We do that by talking about where to go eat, what to drink,  and what to make within the scope of our local waters. Sometimes, however, we need to look beyond our local waters to something most divers will never encounter in the wild…Salmon.

Now since we’ve done a great job at basically wiping out California’s salmon populations, at least from a commercial perspective, we need to look north to Alaska for the majority of our wild salmon needs. Seasonal king, pink, sockeye, and Chinook are all finding there way to your local fish monger as we type.

What’s that you say? You can get farmed Atlantic salmon at 1/3rd the price?  It has the same taste or texture doesn’t it? It’s aquaculture so it must be better for the environment right? Good questions one and all and worthy of discussion. so point by point:

1) Farmed salmon is cheaper than wild salmon. True enough. but you get what you pay for which leads us to our next point…


2) Farmed salmon isn’t as tasty as wild salmon. Think about it like this, the wild salmon you eat is a Darwinian wonder that has survived a long life cycle to become a viable candidate for reproduction. It’s what nature and natural selection meant it to be.  A farmed Atlantic salmon on the other hand, is incubated, vaccinated, and raised in a large holding pen on a diet of fish meal with a little additive to give it a healthy pink hue. When it hits 2 feet and 8-10 pounds, it’s taken for market. It’s literally chicken of the sea and it doesn’t compare in terms of richness of flavor next to the sockeye or king. which leads us to our final point…

Atlantic Salmon Pens

3) Salmon farming is not really good for the environment. To start with, it’s not a very clean industry. There are hundreds of farms raising hundreds of million of fish. That’s a lot of nitrogen being released into the water effecting water quality and local marine ecosystems on a lot of different levels. There is also the escapement issue.  A lot of farmed salmon escape. They intermix with local salmon where they have the potential to introduce new diseases while  disrupting feeding and spawning. The only place salmon farming makes sense in on the financial line. They are like plastic shopping bags in that regard. Sure it’s cheaper and more convenient to use them but they cost more in the long run because of the damage they end up doing to the environment .

Aquaculture has so much potential to create new food resources for our expanding global population. Shellfish farming is a very clean and safe source of seafood as are closed-containment fish farms which raise fish in tanks, away from wild populations. I wish I could say the same for farmed salmon, and maybe some day I will be able to as technology and techniques improve. As of today however, wild is not only your best tasting option, it’s also your most environmentally sound. So get out there and enjoy some salmon while it’s nice, fresh, and wild.

Wild Salmon is leaps and bounds above farmed salmon


Milton Love speaks bluefin tuna sushi in Los Angeles Magazine

I like bluefin tuna. I suppose it’s because I too am a speedy, muscular, and fast mover when I’m in the ocean. Unlike bluefin tuna however, I’m not that popular in sushi restaurants. Perhaps it’s my questionable hygiene or my uncontrollable urge to shout “Release the Kraken” at the most inappropriate times. Regardless of my shortcomings, we are now looking at a time where people are actually loving the bluefin tuna to death. With study after study coming out about the overall global reduction of bluefin populations by almost 95% of their historical numbers, we are on the verge of eating the lion of the ocean right into extinction by putting them squarely on our plate. UCSB Ecologist Milton Love, who will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about rockfish if you let him,  was recently interviewed for Los Angeles Magazine and explained why we might want to take these magnificent animals off the plate and leave them in the open ocean.

The Trouble with Bluefin Tuna article in Los Angeles Magazine

Fish 101 – Leucadia’s Outstanding Deco-Stop for Fresh Fish

F101_0898Shore diving along the north San Diego County can be really productive and fun this time of year. Spots like Cardiff Reef, Seaside, and Swami’s are all beautiful nearshore spots offering beautiful kelp canopies teeming with life. Coupled with the fact they are relatively easy access as well, there is no reason not to enjoy them. And now, as if the dives themselves weren’t enough, there’s a great new restaurant in Leucadia to finish up your diving day – Fish 101.

Located at 1468 N. Coast Hwy, Fish 101 is type of place that we all wish we had down the street from our houses. From first glance, it looks like another hipster joint with poorly shaved dudes wearing hipster pork pie hats(this is the civilian

Fish Chowder
Fish Chowder
Yellowtail Tataki

equivalent of a tech diver fyi) but it’s more than that.  It’s also quite possibly one of the best fish houses you’ll ever try. It’s not just the fresh, locally sourced fish nor is it the reverence that the chef treats it with. It’s more than that in a subdued way. There is no overreach here. Just really well made food, prepared quickly. We tried the chowder and it was delicious. Not too heavy with a hint of corn and potato. Subtle. We tried the special crudo which was a yellowtail tataki and enjoyed the restraint employed. A  light arugula base with avacado, radish and ponzu supported the lightly cooked fish.  Fish and chips were a hit as well with a nice light batter providing a surprising crunch.  I personally loved the fried oyster po’ boy sandwich on a flakey white roll.  Throw in an oyster bar, local craft beers on tap, and a top notch root beer float for dessert and you’ve got something for everybody. And did I mention it’s inexpensive? It is. Nothing on the menu is over $12 and most of it falls in the $7-9 range. It’s the perfect spot to finish up a day of diving in N. San Diego county. Just remember that if you come for the diving you should stay for the Fish 101.

Link to Fish 101's website
Link to Fish 101’s website