For a limited time, Seasons 52 restaurant will have Copper River salmon on its menu for lunch and dinner.
What’s so special about this fish? It’s special enough that chef Alice Waters served it to a group of food editors from around the country – representing a heritage food of America. It was served in season, with fresh peas – a memorable meal for all who were at the table.
This was at her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Oakland, Calif., in the late ’80s, when the chef was making waves with food industry activism and changing how restaurants thought of their sources.
It was Waters, and other California chefs who were seeking out artisan foods – made in traditional ways or produced using sustainable methods – that created what was dubbed California cuisine.
Waters served organic, sustainable foods with minimal fussiness. Clean plates that starred the fresh, bright food, defying the overly designed or combined foods in most kitchens of the day, came from her kitchen.
Names like Jeremiah Tower, Dan Barber, Jonathan Waxman, Deborah Madison, Mark Miller and David Lebovitz worked with Waters and countless others were influenced by her.
After spiraling into a gourmet decadence and more is more mentality in the last 20 years, chefs once again are turning to smartly sourced, sustainable foods, simply prepared. “Farm-to-table” and “locavore” are words used to describe some of these menus.
One of Waters’ many young disciples was Cliff Pleau. As a corporate chef for Darden Restaurants, he’s responsible for the menus at the 30 Seasons 52 restaurants around the country. Seasonal menus, planned to match foods to their growing seasons and sustainability are foremost in Pleau’s focus.
Seasons 52 will grill the salmon
He likes working with fish but realizes the demand for salmon precludes getting only locally sourced seafood. For this short-season menu, he chose the salmon as a fish he thinks every diner should learn about. He knows this wild salmon well from his days on the West Coast.
The salmon comes from glacier-fed river in Alaska – pristine waters. It’s a rough river with fierce rapids, and to navigate it, salmon must store extra fat and oils to feed themselves as they swim upstream to spawn. The fish is in season now, and only for a short time – thus its limited run on menus.
The flesh is bright red, and firm and are shipped after being bled and dressed immediately after catching. Fishermen get premium dollar for these salmon and handle them accordingly.
At Seasons 52, chefs will prepare the salmon by grilling it, then serving it over summer corn risotto with roasted asparagus, grilled red peppers and a light dill mustard sauce.
Seasons 52’s Master sommelier George Miliotes has paired Lioco Indica Rosé, Mendocino ’11 off his “Drink These Before They Become Famous” list. About the wine, he says, “It’s an all-natural wine with lovely aromas and ripe flavors of red raspberries and strawberries. The Lioco Indica Rosé’s crispness and pleasantly dry finish balances well with the rich, fresh flavor of the Copper River salmon.”
The salmon will be on the menu through mid-July at Seasons 52.
Seasons 52 has restaurants in Palm Beach Gardens on PGA Boulevard; Boca Raton, near Town Center Mall, and in the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale.