Recently, I had the pleasure of joining the “Head to Tailfin” dinner organized by Slow Food Boston at Boston’s 606 Congress restaurant. The seven-course menu paired original seafood creations crafted by Executive Chef Rich Garcia, a former chef in the U.S. Marine Corps who has been featured in the culinary magazine Star Chefs, with Spanish wines selected by sommelier Jack Guinan. And, wow, was the meal something special!
Chef Garcia’s aim was to show how the whole animal can be used, from the head all the way to the tailfin. Consistent with the slow food philosophy, Rich used locally caught seafood, with one exception: The fifth course featured shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico as a show of support for the region’s seafood industry recovering from the detrimental ecological and public perception effects of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
Among the dishes of New England origin, my favorite was a toss-up between deep-fried cod tongue and cheeks, and sous vide long fin squid with Hill Farms pork belly. The cod was caught under the sector management system implemented in the New England groundfish fishery last year, one of the newest catch share systems in the nation. The squid was caught by the same fishermen who created and operate Rhode Island’s fluke sector out of Point Judith. Diners were able to learn which captain caught their squid, and where and when it was caught, using QR codes provided during the meal as part of the new “Trace and Trust” program.
It was not the first meal brought to life by Chef Rich that I’d enjoyed, and it certainly won’t be the last! Rich is committed to preparing sustainable, locally caught seafood, and I urge anyone to sample his fare when your travels take you to Boston.