Fresh Monterey Bay fish steal the show at Moss Landing's Sea Harvest
This week winter will finally hand the weather back to spring, and we will have more evening hours to work up an appetite in the arms of Mother Nature. It's again time to enjoy biking, hiking and kayaking.
In Moss Landing, just south of Monterey Bay Kayaks, Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant is nestled in the corner of an immense parking lot. Inside, tables lined up along large windows shared views of the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, where two dozen sea otters feasted and frolicked in the choppy water.
The restaurant seemed understaffed on our lunchtime visit, but between the view and a family reunion of sorts, we appreciated the leisurely pace.
Owned and operated by local fishermen, Sea Harvest's menu is seafood-oriented with the exception of fried chicken strips and salads. Although I adore BBQ oysters ($1.75), I whetted my appetite with a cup of house-smoked Salmon Bisque ($3.95); creamy with big pieces of soft pink fish.
The "Crispy and Delicious!" selections included dee- fried specialties such as Fish and Chips ($8.95) made with the local catch of the day. I sampled them all in the form of a Captain Daniel D Combo ($10.95). Each seafood species was treated differently. Tenderized tubes of Monterey Bay squid, the diameter of a half dollar, were coated with herbed breading. Two coconut prawns were joined by a soft-centered oyster, breaded Southern-style with cornmeal, as well as soft nuggets of bay scallops. Underneath a puffy battered blanket was the snow white fish fillet. The accompanying cole slaw was a tasty blend of red and green cabbage, with plump raisins and pine nuts.
Don't miss the backside of the menu, where "From the Grill" ($14.95) includes a dozen marine entrées, served either atop a large Caesar salad, or plated with farm-fresh vegetables, organic mixed greens salad, and potatoes or rice. From this list, perfectly grilled salmon was topped with light lemon-dill sauce and served with asparagus and roasted red potatoes exquisitely seasoned with rosemary.
If you'd rather prepare your own feast, Sea Harvest also sells fresh fish from its refrigerated case.
Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant, 2420 Highway 1, Moss Landing, 728-8686. Beer and wine. Serving lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ★★★
Driving to Moss Landing I was devastated to see an empty lot where Dominic's Produce stand stood for decades. Two years ago I interviewed owner Kenny Lazzerini, an artichoke farmer whose wife Sherri ran the store.
Kenny told me that heirloom perennial Green Globes are harvested this time of year from plants whose crowns were imported from Italy by his grandfather. I find them much nuttier and sweeter than the annual grown-from-seed cousins available in the summer, and had hoped to stock up.
Apparently, the Department of Transportation snagged the land for a road. But Sherri still sells thistles – at buyartichokes.com. This website also contains Lazzerini artichoke recipes, including grilled artichokes called Lazzerini Arti-Q, made famous by Food Network's Bobby Flay.
Dominic's Fresh Produce, PO Box 106, Moss Landing, 663-9918.
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