I must tell you of my culinary romance with Pier 46 Seafood in Templeton. Owned and operated by Eric Gonzales and Tony DeGarimore, who have created a fish market and seafood food utopia that makes me fall in love every time I visit. At Pier 46, their desire is to share all their expertise with their customers, and to stay on the forefront of environmentally sustainable products. They buy directly from the boats and hand cut most of the product in house.
I special ordered Oysters to do a side-by-side comparison of four different kinds (this was a bet with my best friend Kathy, who stodgily said that Blue Point were the finest mollusk to ingest, I was out to prove her wrong). They presented us with twelve oysters on the half shell, freshly plucked out of the tanks of seawater keeping them vibrant and alive.
First my process: Each oyster is rinsed in champagne (A Spanish Cava provided by 15 Degrees Wine Wine Bar right across the parking lot), a dab of mignonette sauce (which is coarsely ground black peppercorns, red wine vinegar, chopped shallots) and then slurped them down. Gary goes a bit more flavor forward and adds a dab of horseradish, a dash of tobacco and a squeeze of lime.
My favorites are The Tomales Bay Oyster Company that is California’s oldest continuously run shellfish farm located on scenic highway one in Marshall, California. The Tomales Bay is considered the “last undamaged bay in California” and we discovered it while our friends were living in Dillon Beach. It was nothing for us to polish off five dozen oysters in one afternoon.
Still rarities on East Coast menus, Kusshis are all the rage out West, due to their small size and ultra-clean flavor. Grown by Keith Reid, a highly innovative grower in Deep Bay, outside Vancouver, Kusshis are grown in floating trays and tumbled very aggressively. This breaks off the thin growing edge and forces them to deepen and thicken their shells. The resulting oyster, called a Kusshi, Japanese for “precious”.
The last was from local waters, the Morro Bay oysters. Uniform in size and sweet in taste, I think these will be a new hit around here. Bottom line, all were better and more flavorful than Blue Points, we agreed. At Pier 46, they have fresh and local Sushi-grade fish everyday, with live tanks filled with crabs, lobsters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and more.
After the tasting, we were ready for real food, so Gary had the lobster roll, with fresh cooked lobster in a fluffy bun with salad and truffle fries (garnished with a black truffle salt). It was phenomenal. My friend had the pecan encrusted local red snapper dinner, with wild rice and herb vegetables; she said it tasted like the sea. We shared some awesome crab cakes, served on a bed of mixed greens with cherry tomatoes and two sauces. They were flawlessly done. The fish tacos were served with warm tortilla strips, shredded cabbage, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and a spicy sauce with limes on the side. I went for my favorite dish, the Ahi Taco’s. These delectable treats call me over the Grade more times, than I can count. Chopped and super fresh raw Ahi steaks are laid atop a delicious cabbage slaw with flax and sesame seeds. The shell is a fried wanton and the sauce drizzled on top is a wasabi aioli. Pure unadulterated Neptune’s heaven.
With a bottle of Dr. Loosen Riesling, I let my mermaid side emerge. These victuals will force my car over the Grade to consume them weekly. You can come here for a full meal or just to pick up a fresh fish. Pier 46 Seafood is located at 1131 Rossi Road in Templeton. They are open Monday thru Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm and Sundays from 11:00am to 5:00 pm, or call them at (805) 434-1950.