March is roaring in with a full head of steam and there’s still a bitterly cold whip to the wind. However, by the end of the month we can expect, or at least hope, to see longer days of sunshine and warmer breezes budding like new flowers. Like the old saying goes, March comes “In like a Halibut and out like a Mahi”, or at least the seafood version does. March is a transitional month, a liminal period for species, with some coming in and others going out. Here’s some of the catch…
West Coast Halibut season starts March 15th and goes until November 14th this year. The overall quota has been lowered again, but properly managing the species’ stock status is of the utmost importance for the sake of the future generations of people and fish. Nonetheless, it is time to start the excitement for the addition of another great option to the menu.
Wild Striped Bass production will ramp up in March as the fish make their way into the Chesapeake. This species will be a good option until April. We are seeing a mix of sizes, anywhere between five and fifteen pounds. The smaller fish have leaner bellies and, although the fillets don’t cut into large, block portions, they have been getting better yields than the bigger fish.
Halibut isn’t the only flatfish that’s en vogue, California Flounder and East Coast Fluke are currently both running strong. The California Flounder, also known endearingly around these parts as California Halibut, is readily available, with many fish weighing over eight pounds. The East Coast Fluke are also running big and, out of the three sizes offered - medium, large, and jumbo – it is the jumbo that are the most plentiful and best value.
The South American Mahi season has been nothing less than terrific this year, but alas, all seasons that have a beginning, must too have an end. It’s not over yet but expect prices to rise and supplies to dwindle as the month ends. There will be Mahi again when fish decide to move up the Atlantic Coast but expect some gaps along the way.
The Lenten Season is upon us, so let the ads for fish sandwiches begin! Even if you’re not a believer in well-timed advertising, it is wise to begin getting your fishes in a row so to speak. White fleshed species such as Cod, Pollack, Hake, and Haddock and local favorites such as Perch, Whitefish, and Walleye are traditional favorites that will be sought after in the upcoming weeks. Don’t get caught missing out on the catch without a fish to fry.
A well assembled cheese board can seem like a daunting task best left to accomplished chefs. However, following the step by step guide provided below will have your next cheese board ready for a spread in the next issue of Bon Appetit. A quick search on Instagram will showcase boards that have been highly manicured by food stylists with hundreds of dollars’ worth of product on them, but this approach is more simplified and won’t wreak havoc your budget.
Step 1: Pick a cheese board Cheese boards come in a wide array of styles; marble, slate, bamboo, wood, and glass will all work depending on your specific tastes. It doesn’t matter what type of surface you choose, if it’s flat and large enough to hold your offerings it will suffice.
Step 2: Add your cheese Cheese boards usually have a theme (Internationally produced, varying milk types, or local offerings are a few) but don’t fret if you choose to assemble a hodgepodge selection. Head to your local cheese shop or grocery store and grab a mixture of textures such as hard, soft and crumbly. Focus on picking cheeses with different colors and shapes for added visual appeal. Arrange the cheeses on the board as they should be consumed, starting with fainter flavors then culminating with bigger and bolder washed rind or blue cheeses.
Step 3: Add salty Items Adding pre-sliced charcuterie will enhance the texture and flavor profile of the board while making your meat-craving guests ecstatic in the process. Pitted or stuffed olives and dried nuts in segregated dishes will round out your salty needs.
Step 4: Sweet things Dried and fresh fruits will satisfy this category. Dried figs, apricots, and fresh grapes will quickly rebalance the palate and add needed color to the board. Be mindful that fruit that oxides will need a fruit preserver applied – you don’t want those slices of apple to turn brown on the board.
Step 5: Crackers, Breadsticks and Breads Crackers, breadsticks, and breads are a great delivery device for the cheese and charcuterie. Choose options with varying textures for visual appeal, stack or shingle them in the open areas on the board. Avoid vehicles that have a lot of flavor or ingredients added to them as this can distract from the flavor of the cheeses.
Step 6: Condiments Classic options are fancy mustards, honey, chutneys and jams. You can keep them in their original jar or put them in a small dish with a serving spoon. You can add as many condiments as you like or skip this step completely.
Step 7: Garnish This step will round out the board and fill in all the empty spaces. Choose large clusters of grapes or sprigs of rosemary or other fresh herbs. They are not only colorful additions, but they will also add a layer of fresh aroma.
With this quick cheese board reference guide, you will be able to impress your guests at your next occasion. Remember, don’t overthink the process, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!