Left: Julie Cutting, owner and executive chef at Cure restaurant in Portsmouth, preparing dogfish as the evening special (dish pictured at top right). Below: Customer Dave Wentzel samples it. Continued from page 67
ing and exposing consumers, we hope it will drive up demand in restaurants and supermarkets for underutilized species.” Portsmouth, a city known for its farm-to-table restaurants and for locavores who flood the weekly Farmers’ Market and independent grocers, is ripe for a movement sourcing fish with the health of our environment in mind. Headlines here regularly call attention to imposed quotas on catches and we’ve seen cod, the poster fish of dangerously depleted species, get scarcer and more costly. Novel choices that expand dining horizons are exactly what area foodies are looking for and what our most acclaimed chefs are serving. Regional restaurants participating in the NH Community Seafood RSA program include Anneke Jans and Blind Pig Provisions in Kittery, Throwback Brewery in North Hampton and Moxy, Vida Cantina, Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, The Franklin Oyster House, The District, The 100 Club, Row 34, and the aforementioned Cure in Portsmouth. Even
the dining hall on Appledore Island at the Isles of Shoals has signed on. Andrea Tomlinson manages NH Community Seafood and is the conduit between the chefs and the fishermen who land their fish. She says the program is essential, not only for the good of the ocean, but also for the well-being of a profession that helped shaped New England. “The New Hampshire fisherman is an endangered species,” she says. “This program raises the income of fishermen while enhancing the experience of dining in this area. The people who eat at our participating restaurants go home with a more comprehensive knowledge of fish local to New Hampshire waters, they know these fish can taste as good — or better than — cod. It’s a culinary and educational treat for them.” Tomlinson says there’s a transparency and integrity to the program that area chefs are attracted to. “We know exactly where the fish is coming from. We know all our fishermen and we know they bleed dogfish in a way comparable to sushi, aiming for the best purity, firmness and taste.” In contrast, she tells the tale of a wholesale buyer
who purchases whole dogfish, ungutted, and soaks them in bleach water or peroxide as preservative. Buyer beware when you smell ammonia on your fish. Tomlinson says she keeps communication with restaurants direct and immediate via an online marketplace app created by the Three River Farmers Alliance, a regional network of farms and local producers, working cooperatively to market and distribute locally produced food. This allows timely updates about the catch and helps chefs plan, she explains. Back at Cure, the dogfish special is served to regular Friday night customers Chris and Dave Wentzel. They have never tried dogfish but are feeling intrepid, saying they trust Cutting as a chef, and share her values about local, sustainable food. “The texture is really nice. The taste is mild. It’s reminds me a smidge of lobster,” says Chris Wentzel. “Julie’s food is the best. She never misses. And she hasn’t with this.” p NH Community Seafood RSF has a partner program called the Community Supported Fishery that the general public can sign on to as well. For more information, go tonhcommunityseafood.com/what-is-a-csf.