Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to the Largest Seafood Expo in North America!

Yes Please!

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad bringing home lobsters to eat and letting my brother and I play with them on the kitchen floor before putting them in the pot. We would name them and be very sad when dad took them away to cook. Of course my dad was a born and bred Bostonian which meant that he knew how to cook a lobster and how to make a kick ass lobster roll ,so the mourning period for our friends the lobsters would last right up until the first bite.

When you live in New England you really can't help but have an affinity for the ocean and everything edible that comes out of it. I am no different and with me it is even more so than most. I have been around the ocean in some way or another my whole life. I dive, so being underwater with the denizens of the deep is a special thing to me. Seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is something I think everyone should experience whether snorkeling or even just by spending a day at the Aquarium. 

The Seafood Expo North America comes to Boston once a year and is literally the largest trade event on the continent! Nearly 20,000 businesses in the seafood industry are all under one giant roof and the opportunities are endless to not only learn a little bit about where all the seafood comes from that we love to eat but also 
to EAT it. 

The fact is that 99% of the time when I sit down for dollar oysters at some local raw bar or I decide to shoot a dozen  Cherry Stones over at Row 34, I'm not thinking about where they came from. I'm a business man. I work for a living. I'm not a "Foodie" or a "Chowhound" (whatever that is) 

But what I have learned at this amazing event is that if our fish and shellfish are not sustainable then we can and will run out. The fish stocks have to be maintained throughout the world. Luckily this industry is doing a great deal to make sure we never run out. 

From Nat Geo:

Sustainable fishing guarantees there will be populations of ocean and freshwater wildlife for the future. Aquatic environments are home to countless species of fish and invertebrates, most of which are consumed as food. (Others are harvested for economic reasons, such as oysters that produce pearls used in jewelry.) Seafood is respected all over the world, in many diverse cultures, as an important source of protein and healthy fats. For thousands of years, people have fished to feed families and local communities. 

But the fact is that if you want to learn about things like sustainability, protecting our oceans and fisheries, seeing where the seafood comes from (all over the world) and see how it is brought out of the oceans to our plates then you HAVE to get yourself here next year. Me? I'm just a novice. I am a scuba diving, boat riding, swimming, water gun toting regular type guy and walking around aisle after aisle eating smoked salmon, crab cakes, shrimp, oysters, all manner of sushi and more is  why I come to the Seafood Expo.                                                                            

My own experience is somewhat unique at the Seafood Expo. I always go with a plan. You should be aware that people from all over the world are coming here to conduct business. Many people are restaurant and store owners looking to buy machinery and seafood for their businesses. However, many are also here to eat, sample and learn about the industry. I am here primarily to eat. (surprise!) I come to go to the food show next door for business.  With the price of a ticket you gain entry to the Seafood show as well which is awesome for me.

POINT - It is crowded. Give yourself time. There are all types of cultures here and all types of people are all there to sample the delicious seafood. There will be lines. There will be people who think they don't need to wait on lines. Be patient. There is enough for everyone. 
Giant Clams

 Here are 10 Tips on how to do
 the Seafood Expo North America:

1. Start all the way on the left side. Many people are going to the New England Food Show first then heading in to the Seafood Expo. Big mistake. Do you want to fill up on bread? You will be full way before you eat your first oyster.  But if you get there early and start as far away from the food show side as possible you will have a lot of food all to yourself. No lines.

2. Know what you like. I love sushi. I love Oysters. I love it all really but I know that if someone offers me a huge cup of faux crab salad I am not eating that. Your stomach has a finite amount of room in it. You will get full if you eat everything. There is simply too much to sample everything and it is definitely not all good stuff. 


3. Don't just run through stuffing your face. This is a huge opportunity to not only learn about where the fish come from but also to meet local purveyors. Sure there are people from Morocco and Korea mixed in with Chinese and Mexican fisheries and people from everywhere there is fish  but I find that the local guys have some great stories. They have some seriously fresh oysters, salmon and more. They are here in town or near by and can tell you where to eat their products locally.

Will show muscles for mussels.
4. I said don't run through stuffing your FACE! Did you see that ugly monster-like monkfish? Taste it! You never had eel before? It is so good! Try it! Things like wolf fish, whelks and seaweed salad aren't on every corner. Broaden your horizons! Try new things.

Wolf Fish
Do not fear the Monkfish!

5. There are also a lot of fried foods. There is fried calamari and I even had fried gator once here but go easy on the fried stuff. It will fill you up really fast and usually you won't really get to taste the fish. IMHO. 

6. Oysters. There are a lot of oysters here. They are all different. Taste them all. Duxbury and Wellfleet are different from PEI. Learn about them.  They all taste differently. They are good for you. If you are not from Boston, please take a moment and discover the cherry stone. (It's a clam)

Sammy the Salmon

7. Salmon. Big business is that fish. There are Chinook, Sockeye, Coho and more. There are farm raised and wild. They can be smoked a million different ways. I had a smoked maple candied salmon that was out of this world.  They are cooked a million different ways. You can learn recipes. You can learn why salmon should be on your menu at home and when you go out. Eat a lot of salmon here. Trust me.

8. Sushi and Sashimi. There are many Asian companies here at the Expo. Get in there and eat! They are not all created equal. Smell first. Watch out for things that are still frozen. I almost lost a tooth on a frozen shrimp. You can have a sushi extravaganza here at the Expo. Go for it! 

9. There are classes. The Master class series had Chef's teaching how to cook lobster dishes. Chef Dan Enos from Oceanaire did a class on salmon. Go hear a session. Watch the shucking competition. I actually had a brief lesson on shucking so I can do my own oysters.

Shell -less Lobster!

10. Spread the word. Do you know people in this industry? They should be here every year. Take pictures. Blog about it. Facebook the heck out of it. This Expo is a gem and sharing it with others is just as important as all the rest. Also it is three days so come at least twice. It is hard to do in all one day. Your stomach can only fit so much.I speak from experience. Oh and one more thing. The exhibitors are people too. Be gracious! They are feeding you after all. Please and thank you's go a long way and if something tastes great then let them know Compliments can lead to even more delicious seafood! 

Boston is one of the greatest cities in the world and luckily for you if you are going to the Expo at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center then you are centrally located to everything. You can walk, take a cab or the silver line to anywhere in Boston Proper. Right near by is Fort Point or as some call it, the Innovation District. This area is in mid-gentrification mode lucky for you. Here's a brief list of some of my favorites. It is where you can walk to if you are staying here for the Expo. 

Row 34 - They call themselves a workingman's oyster bar. Go for the seafood. Raw bar is outstanding. Beer menu is top notch and it is a short walk from the Convention Center.

Tavern Road -  I love this place. The DiBiccari brothers run this great place. Unique Inventive food menu AND bar menu. The bar actually rocks. Mixologists live here so drink. The food is also outstanding.

Trillium Brewery - Yes it is a brewery right near by but the beer is so good you have to go. You go into the small space and go left to the bar where they will let you sample whatever is currently being offered and they have a lot of different brews. I love the Pot and Kettle personally. It's a dark porter and it is really a craft beer. They sell by the bottle, 32 oz and gigantic Growler. You buy and leave to drink it elsewhere like your hotel room or home.   So good!

Going the other direction North towards the waterfront there is also a myriad of dining options. Here are a few I like.

Temezcal - Upscale Mexican

Jery Remy's - sports bar

Legal Seafoods and Legal Test Kitchen - seafood!

the No Name - on the fish pier - Old School seafood

Not a free sample!

There's actually about 20 more places within a few minutes walk of there but you can't go wrong with those and by all means Yelp the heck out of the area. Boston is FULL of great places to eat. A little research goes a long way.

Most Importantly:

Enjoy Boston, Have fun. Tell your friends and associates. See you next year!

Leave comments below.