Rosaria and I made a blitzkrieg raid on Chelsea Market in Manhattan the day before yesterday. It was right after a big snowstorm and the streets of New York were, well, challenging to say the least. I dropped off Rosaria at the entrance of Chelsea Market while I circled around in the car. I got lucky and found a parking spot over on 11th Avenue, so shortly afterwards, I caught up with her inside at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, arguably one of the best green grocers in the city, carrying every imaginable garden variety and exotic produce. We purveyed a large selection of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and nuts. From there we popped into Buon Italia, where I did some serious damage in the cheese department. Rosaria was quite disappointed that they were out of Bucatini, a long tubular pasta with a hollow center, made by Setaro in Naples. The name comes from the Italian word “buco” which means hole. In my opinion this Setaro product is the best commercially made pasta, period: the only thing better is my home made pappardelle. I was eyeballing a massive chunk of 36 month aged Parmesan Reggiano, then I saw the price and I had sticker shock: $274.53. We checked out, gathered all our bags and headed for the door, while debating whether or not to go to Chinatown for fish. After having just negotiated the snow clogged streets, we opted for buying fish at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.
Good thing we did, and here’s why. Displayed on a bed of crushed ice were several whole fillets of sablefish. Sablefish (anoplopoma fimbria), also known as black cod, is fished off British Columbia and Alaska. The fishery is strictly controlled, and the species is sustainable, unlike toothfish, also known as Chilean Seabass. The last time I had had sablefish was on Vancouver Island a couple of years ago, and I still talk about it. The sablefish that was laid out in front of me was gleaming with freshness, and it had a rosy hue to the flesh. I took the largest fillet they had. In retrospect, I should have taken the whole fish.
On my way over to the sablefish I had passed the oyster counter where I noticed Kumamotos and Fannie Bays, two of my favorite oysters, and both from British Columbia. For some stupid reason we only got a dozen. What in the world were we thinking? When Rosaria and I get our oyster faces on we can consume mass quantities of them; I’m talking serious dozens. And we only bought a dozen? We must have temporarily taken leave of our senses. Even this morning we asked each other how we could have done that.
As we made our way to the checkout counter, we also purchased a pound or so of fresh Spanish mackerel and a slab of tuna belly. After paying, we headed outside of the seafood store with even more bags to schlep around, and we both realized we were hungry. With renewed inspiration, Rosaria went back into the fish market while I waited for a small table to empty right outside the storefront. She returned with a large container of sushi which was made right there by a crew of sushi chefs. Definitely my kind of lunch. After we finished, I went back over to 11th avenue, retrieved the car and picked up Rosaria and all the bags outside Chelsea Market. We thought we were escaping Manhattan early enough to miss traffic. Wrong. It was an agonizingly slow ride back to Southampton. But I kept myself busy thinking about pan roasting the sablefish, and eating oysters, which we successfully accomplished later that evening.