Blue Water Cafe: Unsung Heroes

>> Monday, February 28, 2011

OceanWise, the program for sustainable seafood, will mark its seventh anniversary this April. Not coincidentally, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar, one of the founding members of OceanWise, is wrapping up its seventh annual "Unsung Heroes" event. The Unsung Heroes menu takes sustainability one step further by focusing on lesser known or less popular sustainable seafood and making them taste great.

Before we go any further, we should fully disclose that we are friends with someone who works at Blue Water Cafe, and anything we write will be inherently biased, even if completely true.

As a reward for taking transit on the coldest day of the year, we started off with a Winter Fizz, made with apple cider, Maker’s Mark, sherry, and old fashioned bitters,

together with a Brown Derby, made with Bulleit bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, and honey syrup.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that we've come to expect an amuse bouche, and we were not disappointed by this splendiferous mushroom bisque.

We like making things easy for ourselves, and we simply ordered one of every item on the Unsung Heroes menu. Twelve dishes, in menu sequence:

Jellyfish marinated with sesame oil and togarashi, daikon cucumber salad

Periwinkles sea snails cooked in a white wine vegetable bouillon
served chilled in their shells with saffron aioli

Herring pickled in apple schnapps, vegetable relish, smoked potato sponge

Herring Roe kombu seaweed, bonito flakes, dashi, soy

Seaweed kaiso salad with avocado, cucumber, sesame, ponzu and rice bran oil

Anchovy white anchovies marinated with garlic and parsley, parmesan custard, fennel and romaine hearts in organic olive oil and lemon vinegar

Geoduck mirugai ubuki sashimi with tama miso sauce

Sea Cucumber nori spring roll with sea cucumber, oysters, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, pea shoot salad with hoisin dressing

Mackerel eggplant baba ghanoush with nasturtium and golden raisins, preserved beech mushrooms, long pepper balsamic reduction

Octopus grilled with chilean merken spice, garlic confit, chickpeas, charred red peppers

Sardine in a blanket with pine nut gremolata, cardoon, black olives, preserved grapefruit
citrus chili gastrique

Red Sea Urchin + Squid fresh squid ink pasta, crispy market squid, quail egg, sea urchin cream

For wine, we did a little mix and match. With the sommelier's guidance, we started out with a bottle of New Zealand riesling, and then when we finished that (amazing, I know), we asked for a a couple of pairings for our remaining dishes.

Oh, dessert and coffee, how we've come to love you. I don't remember what this one is.

This Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake with a brandy truffle centre was served with vanilla bean ice cream.

One last drink for the road, the classic Brandy Alexander.

Five hours later, another completely satisfying meal came to a close. One of executive chef Frank Pabst's strengths is his ability to layer simple flavours without conflating them, delivering the tastes of the individual ingredients while harnessing their synergy. This evening's feast was no exception: every dish was a revelation.

 And no, we didn't bus it back this time, succumbing to the lure of a taxicab.

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