We Merkins are a devout lot. We remember our nation's dead in May, venerate fireworks in July, celebrate the arrival of a boatload of Yerpeen settlers in November. What we don't honor, strangely, is the first demonstration of nature's annual generosity: the salmon run.
(Helpless mankind, sacrificial fish. They've taken care of us for centuries, now it's our turn to take care of them. More on this soon.)
But if there's no official thanksgiving, there are plenty of opportunities these days to eat one's fill of Copper River Kings. Two such just last night.
You'd think a dinner benefiting Long Live the Kings would go heavy on salmon, no? No. Instead, the repast at Flying Fish celebrated a wide range of northwest seafood: oysters, sweet razor clams, crab, black cod with the creamiest risotto imaginable, and, yes, finally, salmon. All of it local, all of it fresh. Wines from Chinook: wow! cabernet franc with salmon, what a great combination!
Two-thirds of a mile downstream, as the crow flies, eagle soars, or the salmon itself might migrate, at the water's edge on Pier 56, another celebration to give thanks for the salmon's return. Dominic reports from Elliott's Oyster House on Pier 56.
"Dinner here (four courses of salmon) is the cornerstone of Elliott's annual Salmon Gone Wild promotion, complete with "salmon-friendly" wines. The wineries are certified for using sustainable methods – organic farming, proper irrigation, avoiding silt runoff, etc. With different wines paired for all six courses it's clear what made the salmon go wild; by course and glass number five, so were we.
"Seafood's answer to a springtime Thanksgiving was discovered in a Mixed Salmon Brochette. Tender pieces of Copper River King nestled next to white salmon on a couple skewers. Chef Jeremy Anderson fortunately missed the memo that kabobs must be incinerated. These morsels were perfectly cooked, cradled by a bed of browned potato and hazelnut hash and circled by drizzles of Bing cherry and pomegranate reduction. It's too bad for the Pilgrims they didn't land in Seattle."
Too bad for the rest of us, too. Instead of a stupid, flightless buzzard, we'd have the wisest, noblest fish of all.