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Notes from the Island Fishmonger

Welcome Back Snowbirds

Yes, we welcome you back my snowbird friends and I mean that affectionately. I, for one, missed you. It’s always so quiet when you’re gone. Now it’s time to thaw out and chill out at the same time. Let’s see…this is what happened on Siesta Key while you were gone. Besides a lot of future development and parking talks, NOTHING and that’s the way we like it! No hurricanes, no sign of red tide, both the water and air are fresh & clean and no worries. Just small businesses, beautiful beaches, and some of the best golf in the world.

So, go get your shopping on at local shops such as Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures, have a bowl of Clam Chowder from Captain Curt’s, get your Grouper sandwich from Big Water Fish Market, enjoy a coffee at Mojo Risin’ in the Village, or a cocktail at the Crescent Club… whatever your Florida fix is, let’s get it in and start living like a Floridian.

While you’re getting your Florida fix, don’t forget to take the Siesta Key Breeze. It’s is a free trolley that will take you anywhere on the island from the Village to Turtle Beach. The open air trolleys run about every 20 mins. Sunday-Thursday 8a-10p and Friday/Saturday 8a-midnight. Use them! Also the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce is located at 5114 Ocean Blvd. and is a great source for all things Siesta Key. From dining, shopping, accommodations, things to do, etc…they are the go-to experts!

Fresh From Florida Fish Report

When we think of fresh foods indigenous to Florida, there a few culinary standouts such as produce and seafood. Now that we are shopping local, the Florida produce crops that are in season for February and March include bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, cabbage, sweet corn, squash, tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges, mangos, strawberries and tangerines.

When it comes to food “Fresh is Best.” We should all make it a habit to eat seasonally and organic. Products are healthier and tastier when fresh. Plus, eating seasonally encourages a diverse diet and is often more economical. Look for the “Fresh from Florida” label that gives you the confidence of knowing what items are local and in season.

The key to knowing what to look for when shopping is knowing what’s fresh. This is the reason I shop for food at local markets over a national grocery chain when I can (although I know we all depend on major chain grocery stores for many of life’s must haves). When it comes to buying fresh, I will always choose to support the local markets such as Crescent Beach Grocery and Morton’s Siesta Market on the island that can provide sustainable foods by retailers who have the knowledge of where the product came from and how it was raised. You never have to leave the Key to find fresh and local foods.

Stone Crabs, Tripletail, Hogfish, Amberjack, Cobia and Wahoo are a few of the local fresh catch that will be available at your Big Water Fish Market and Restaurant on a consistent basis this winter.

When you’re talking seafood, “sustainable” is a word you must look for. Seafood is sustainable whenthe population of that species of fish is managed in a way that provides for today’s needs without damaging the ability of the species to reproduce and be available for future generations. If you buy fish managed under a U.S. Fishery Management Plan, you can be assured it meets 10 national standards. Florida fishermen are required to follow federal and state laws when harvesting seafood. The Florida seafood industry provides 84% of the nation’s supply of grouper, pompano, mackerel, stone crabs, pink shrimp and spiny lobsters.

In order to protect the fish population and make the species sustainable, there are many restrictions and seasonal closings on local fishermen that allow our fish to reproduce. These closings have a lot to do with the fluctuating market prices. For instance, starting February 1st the Gulf of Mexico on the Mexican side is closed to grouper fishing every year for 3 months. That means all of the grouper we eat comes from the Florida Coast. That’s good but because we are also supplying Mexico with all of their grouper, the price of grouper is always more expensive in the spring. Visitors think that the cost goes up just for the tourist season but this is simply not true. It is the supply and demand affect we are feeling… the price increase at this time of the year is simply due to a yearly closing that affects our area. No worries though as there will be plenty of grouper available as well as plenty of local pompano, mangrove, and yellowtail snappers to ease the situation. If you want truly fresh and wild caught from Florida fish, packed with health benefits and the flavor of the sea, you might have to pay a few bucks more but it’s worth it. EAT FRESH, EAT LOCAL, EAT SUSTAINABLE!!

Big Water Fish Market
www.BigWaterFishMarket.com
6641 Midnight Pass Road
Crescent Plaza – 941-554-8101
6639 Midnight Pass Road
Crescent Plaza – 941-203-5972