HOG ISLAND OYSTER CO.

I have spent my whole life around water, growing up on a lake in Northern Michigan and learning to scuba dive at age 13.  But until I moved to California, I had never seen the Pacific Ocean.  There is definitely something different about the Pacific in Northern California.  The cold water, and the dramatic way the land just kind of ends, dropping off into a huge expanse.  There are also interesting areas where the ocean meets the land, and merges with freshwater.  Tomales Bay is one of those places, and it happens to be a great place to farm oysters.  I could never get behind the whole raw oyster thing as a kid - even though my dad loved them - but as an adult living in the bay area and working at Fish. restaurant, it was only normal that I give them another shot.  Needless to say, by the time Mike and I moved back to Michigan I had developed a love of oysters - raw, barbecued, and fried - and I know they will be some of the first things on my plate during our next visit.

Before we left, I worked on a piece in Edible Marin & Wine Country with writer Maria Finn to tell the story of Hog Island Oyster Company and their efforts to raise awareness about water quality and ocean acidification.  The company is truly one to admire; family owned, with a huge fan base, and an expanding garden to supply the need for greens at their oyster bar in the SF ferry building and Napa restaurant.  For their 30th anniversary they released limited edition oyster shucking knives, t-shirts, and a special Hog Island Oyster Wine.  Continuing to do great things, John Finger and Terry Sawyer lead the way, aided by their children, wives, and good friends to build a business that celebrates a truly regional cuisine and advocates for sustainability and environmental stewardship.  Cheers to Hog Island - Live to Shuck, Shuck to Live.

To read Maria's article online, check out the link here.

 
 

OYSTERMEN /// PART II

If you have been following along here on my blog, or on facebook, you may know that I have been doing some work for Hog Island Oyster Co.  To see a few images from part I, look here.  I thought I would take a short break from editing to post a couple shots from a recent oyster harvest.  More to come, stay tuned.

 
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OYSTERMEN /// SNEAK PEEK

I love the term "oystermen".  It sounds so strange to me.  Possibly because I am so used to hearing the word fishermen.  Oystermen sounds so different.  So much more remote.  I'm not sure what being an oysterman entails.  Maybe that's why the trip to Hog Island Oyster Co. this past week was so exciting.  I love looking behind the scenes of a process I know absolutely nothing about.   Maria Finn will be writing more about what it takes to be a successful oyster company in Northern California, as well as the future of oysters, and there are more images to come regarding the life of an oysterman.

 
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HERRING

It is herring season here in the Bay Area.  Fish. restaurant is serving herring grilled or pickled and it is delicious.  It is also important to create demand for these fish as food - for humans - in the local area.  A majority of the herring fishing industry actually only catches the fish for roe, which is shipped to Japan.  Herring are an important baitfish in ecosystems and their roe feeds a variety of animals including a number of bird species.    Check out the Sausalito Herring Festival this Saturday, Feb. 9th if you are in the area!

 
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FISH REVOLUTION

My work is being featured on Fish Revolution's website! 

"Fish Revolution is dedicated to improving the health of marine fish populations. Our primary goal is to force a shift in demand from harmful fishing practices to sustainable methods that ensure healthy production of seafood and other ocean products for years to come.  We believe in supporting fishing communities taking steps to conserve fish populations (and their livelihoods) while bridging the gap between fishermen and consumers"

I hope to work with them future projects!

 
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SURF SMELT FISHING

As a part of my ongoing project documenting sustainable seafood in the SF bay area, I recently photographed two fishermen, Mike and Kirk, fishing for Two x Sea.  They are using toss nets to catch surf smelt which are found along the coast from Southern California to Alaska.  The older man with the yellow jacket was there fishing with his grandson.  Looking through the photos I'm regreting that I didn't get his name or contact information to show him these shots... just maybe I can catch him out there again.

 
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ALBACORE TUNA

These are the most recent images from my project on sustainable seafood in the bay area.  I will have to write more about this project and these gorgeous animals later... for now just photos.

 
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CHICKEN WAFFLES /// FREMONT DINER

A while back my boyfriend Mike and I headed up to Sonoma to check out the Fremont Diner.  It was an awesome sunny day, a beautiful drive, and a great food experience.  The diner supports local farmers and also uses plenty of ingredients from the farm at the back of the restaurant.  We will definitely be back.

 
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NOJO!

I recently had the amazing opportunity to photograph the food at Nojo restaurant in SF.  Nojo means "farm" in Japanese... as a result, locally sourced ingredients take high priority.  To read more about my experience eating at Nojo check out this past blog post.  I am looking forward to more work with Chef/Owner Greg Dunmore, including an upcoming farmer's market trip!

Nojo is also using locally sourced Monkey Faced Eel via Two X Sea.  Check out this video to see how this crazy looking species is caught.

 
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RAINBOW TROUT

 
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I have been working at Fish Restaurant in Sausalito part time for over a year now.  I have met some great people through the restaurant and I truly love working there.  Fish is dedicated to sustainable seafood by avoiding species which are overfished, paying careful attention to fishing seasons, and simply not buying fish that have been caught using unsustainable fishing methods.  As Fish grew, Two X Sea, a sustainable fish distribution company evolved.  Two X Sea began developing an algae based fish feed which could be used to raise trout instead of relying on feeds containing other, smaller fish (as well as chicken parts).  They began this experiment at McFarland Springs in Susanville, CA.  I am hoping that these images will become part of a larger series, which I will be developing this year.

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LUCKY HAND & NOJO

 
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Thanks to recent press, and their relationship with the sustainable fish distribution company Two X Sea, Nojo has been on my radar as a restaurant to visit for a while.  I was finally able to visit earlier this week to photograph some of the pairings between their unique dishes and both Lucky Hand beers. 

Nojo has a great story, and is meant to be "a unique neighborhood restaurant specializing in Japanese style skewers and pub food."  The word 'nojo' itself means 'farm'... the restaurant emphasizes local, seasonal, and sustainably produced food.  They also utilize MANY different parts of the meats they serve.  This week, Lucky Hand Black Lager has been paired with a Salad of Beef Tendon, Radishes, Daikon Sprouts, Mung Beans & Kansuri Vinaigrette.  I will admit, hearing "beef tendon" threw me, but I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, so I went for it... and I was amazed.  I was worried about the texture.  Would it be tough?  Chewy?  Some other weird consistency I hadn't considered?  But it was really like eating a delicious noodle salad.  It was probably one of my favorite dishes we sampled. 

Speaking of parts I don't normally see on a menu, we also tried duck neck, gizzards, and tongues.  This is the kind of eating experience I seriously enjoy and will be back for... a chance to try something new, different, maybe slightly bizarre, but ultimately awesome and delicious. 

 
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In my mind Japanese food has pretty much become synonymous with sushi, udon noodles, and tempura.  This is unfortunate because, clearly, there is a LOT more to explore.  Left: Fried Potatoes, Tonkatsu Sauce, Scallions, Mayonnaise & Shaved Katsuo Bushi.  Right: Tsukune, Egg Yolk Sauce (chicken).

 
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Left: Lucky Hand Black Lager.  Right: The infamous (at least in my mind) Beef Tendon Salad.

 
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SONOMA CHEESE

This past week I had the awesome opportunity to tag along with Francesco, the chef of Fish. restaurant on a cheese tasting adventure in Sonoma.  The Sonoma coast is amazing, maybe even more so on a cloudy gray day. 

 
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Finding some of these cheese makers' takes a little treasure hunting.  Even with a "Sonoma Cheese Trail" map, it was difficult to find some of the places listed... some had no address listed, only phone numbers, and calling often meant leaving a voicemail (maybe they are too busy making cheese?).  We ended up at one creamery with goats, a yurt, and a cheese processing building, but no one around to talk to.

Finally we were able to speak to a cheese maker in person at Matos Farm in Santa Rosa.  Joe Matos and his family brought their recipe for Sao Jorge unpasteurized cheese over from Portugal in the 1970's.

 
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{Cows at Matos Farm, Santa Rosa}

 
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{Sign for Matos Farm & Sao Jorge Cow Cheese in aging room}

 
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{Aging room at Matos Farm}

After visiting Matos we were able to head over to Achadinha Cheese Company in Petaluma.  Jim and Donna Pacheco, along with their kids, raise goats and pigs on their farm.  When we arrived, Donna was finishing up a new batch of feta.  As you talk to Donna, you understand how deeply she cares about her family, her farm, her animals, the cheese she makes, and the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it is made.  It was fascinating to hear her explain the processes their cheese goes through from milking to aging.  In a batch of fresh curds, Donna loves when she can taste the grass the animals ate.  As she looks at the aging cheese she explains that each wheel needs to be hand brushed with olive oil to prevent them from drying out too much.  To see this kind of care and attention paid to the food she produces was exciting.  I absolutely loved my tour of their farm.  You can find cheese from Achadinha at many local farmer's markets.  Please support them!

 
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We were able to taste curds, feta, capricious, and brancha cheese at Achadinha.

To top it all off, Donna's daughter let me hold a baby goat.  Jim estimates that 10 new babies are being born per week!  Again, amazing scenery, awesome cheese, wonderful down to earth people.

PERCH

Spending time with my parents in Michigan meant lots of fishing on the lake and eating veggies from the garden.  The food was good and fresh and local.  I began to experiment with still life photography of lake perch.  I have done similar photography with heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, & butterflies.  I would like to expand this project now that I am back in the bay area.  We will see what comes out of it.

 
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