Last night, catching the ferry home to Peaks Island after a Sunday trying to get work done while distracted, I happened to meet the fisherman who had supplied the Lemon Sole (Dabs) to us for dinner on January 21.
There’s a story behind Eric. It begins with the American Legion Hall bar here on Peaks Island. I had stopped in one night for a cheap beer on my walk home from the ferry and met Ashley, Eric’s lovely girlfriend, who was bartending that night. As we chatted, I described P.I.G.S. to her and shared the menu. It was then that Ashley told me about her boyfriend – how he was a Gulf of Maine fisherman who would go out for ten days at a time, how she didn’t like fish, and how they always had more fish than they could eat.
Ashley offered that Eric could easily supply the Lemon Sole (or whatever I wanted). I readily agreed. On the day of the dinner, a transfer was executed via Peaks Island Taxi, and the most beautiful Lemon Sole was delivered. Talk about awesomely fresh fish!
Well last night (Sunday January 29) I finally met Eric. Eric and Ashley were catching the ferry and he had a black garbage bag on his shoulder, carrying 50# of fresh-never-frozen haddock, having stepped off the F/V Harmony that morning. I was offered some of this haddock but what happened next was amazing – a local Islander boy negotiated 10# of free haddock from Eric.
Anyway, Eric and I spent some time talking. He loves fishing the sea. Originally from PA, Eric has lived and worked in fishing the last five years. I cut a deal with him – offering him a bottle of Jack Daniels for every time he gets me fish direct from the boat, to which (naturally, as a fisherman) he agreed readily. Haddock, Sole, Monkeyfish – he rattled them all off. We also talked about him supplying the GPS coordinates for the catch locations of fish he can supply to the P.I.G.S. dinners; which I think would be cool to plot for P.I.G.S. diners on Google Earth.
I have a ton of respect for ocean fisherman. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s hard hard work. And their zest for meeting danger head-on is unfathomable. I feel very fortunate to have developed this direct to source seafood connection. I wish I had had such a connection when I was a professional chef. It doesn’t get any more local than this, friends.