On my recent trip back home to Nova Scotia I stepped into a scene from my lost youth. Fishermen were yelling across the cove...
"What was Frenchie catchin...?"
(Every cove has a "Frenchie" and a "Slim".)
The answer came back..."Haddock it was, he caught."
Nova Scotians from the rocky inlets of Nova Scotia's South Shore talk like Jedi Master Yoda in "Star Wars". They split the sentence in the middle and then put the last part first. As in..."Dumb as a boot, he is."...or ..."Drank like a fish, he did."
That moment of 'Novey speak' awakened in me a craving for my favorite fish...Haddock...and a determination to source fresh Haddock in Florida.
Haddock is a smaller fish like a sole with a white flesh that is sweet and delicate. The good news is that the Haddock fishery seems to be growing stronger and that we have been able to find a reliable source for fresh Haddock for Eat Here.
Fresh Haddock rarely gets south of Boston. Almost all of what Floridians are told is "fresh" Haddock is any white fish that is caught off Norway or South Africa, then frozen in blocks, shipped across the Atlantic in the bottoms of slow ships and then defrosted and passed off as "fresh".
In my Nova Scotian youth fresh fish was as familiar on my plate as toast or baked beans or potatoes. My grandmother was called "Nana". Nana's fish cookery was religious in its constancy.
Cod...as common as hay...was mixed with potatoes and onions and cooked in "fishcakes"...or tossed to the cat.
Mackerel was for breakfast...cooked crispy, skin-on, in a hot skillet.
Halibut was special. It was the "when-the-priest-comes-for-dinner" fish. Nana cut it in thick steaks and baked it gently with butter in the oven.
But everybody's "favorite-Catholic-Friday-fish" was Haddock - always "Wicked-Fresh" from icey-cold Atlantic waters, filleted dockside, and wrapped in waxed paper.
Our "Eat Here" fresh Haddock is almost as fresh as my grandma cooked.
It is refrigerated from the time it leaves the hook...by the fog, salt air and a slurry of ocean water and ice...until it is packed in ice for flight.
There are no warm spots until it hits the pan in the Eat Here island eateries.
Treat yourself to some fresh Nova Scotian Haddock.
Yoda would have loved it.
"Try it, you should."
"Like it, you will."
About Eat Here: The Eat Here restaurants celebrate chef-crafted, Gulf Coast cookery and creative cocktails. Eat Here on Anna Maria Island and in Siesta Key were recently selected as two of Floridaâ€™s â€śbest new restaurantsâ€ť as part of Florida Trendâ€™s Golden Spoon Awards.
Eat Here Anna Maria Island: 5315 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, 941-778-0411
Eat Here Siesta Key: 240 Avenida Madera, Sarasota, (941) 346-7800