Fragrant smoke rises from the grill where teriyaki-marinated pork baby back ribs ($6.99/lb.) cook slowly over indirect heat. I was surprised to find this delicacy at Soquel's Fish Lady.
Finally noticing the lettering that announced the availability of smoked fish, I wandered into the store where I found smoked ahi, trout, scallops, and of course wild salmon ($1.25/oz.). This moist pink fish with a mild smoky-sweet teriyaki flavor was topped with a coarse black pepper glaze. Although soft, it is dense enough to remain chunky when tossed with pasta. This fish lady will also smoke the fish you catch.
Jerky ($1.90/oz.) is also available. The smoked salmon jerky is tender, while thick, sweet pieces of Black Angus beef are moist and chewy.
The cold case is filled with Rocky chickens, marinated lamb racks, a variety of fat sausages, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, meatballs, and ground beef. I even noticed a venison tenderloin ($18). The fish arrives two or three times each day. Huge prawns, both raw and cooked, and various varieties of oyster join the catches of the day. In the freezer case, you may find cooked crayfish tails and calamari steaks.
But the Fish Lady is more than a butcher shop. The store is filled with bottles of wine. Condiments, preserves, snacks and marinades add something special to recipes. There is even a modest cheese selection.
The Fish Lady also bottles some of its sauces. The Brandy-maple marinade ($5.99) is sweet with syrup and brown sugar, salted with soy, strong, and yes, its second ingredient is brandy.
Friday nights feature a happy hour from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Enjoy wine tasting ($10) on the patio, live music, and something hot from the grill.
The Fish Lady, 2510 Main S., Soquel, 475-6044. Beer and wine. Open daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit thefishladysoquel.com.
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