Seattle... when you hear mention of this charming city what picture pops into your mind? Before visiting the city for the first time a few weeks ago, it was that "Public Market Center" sign in Pike Place Market and visions of flying fish that flashed through my thoughts. Now that I've visited Seattle? It's still the market and flying fish, but now it's oh, so real!
Heading through Pike Market, our Girard's representatives led us past that famous sign and directly to the ice bins filled with fish at the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.
Known world wide for the boisterous filling of customer orders by throwing the fish to be wrapped, the Pike Place Fish Market is not only a local fish market but an entertaining Seattle destination that never gets old.
Catching up with fishmonger Ryan, we discovered first hand the exemplary passion these guys feel for their market. With ambitions to "interact with people with a strong intention to make a difference for them. We want to give each person the experience of having been served and appreciated, whether they buy fish or not. We love them.", he did just that.
Briefing us on a little bit of history and lore about the fish market, Ryan proudly explained that all of the fish sold at the Pike Place Market is 100% sustainable. Giving us a rundown on the day's market offerings, he then grabbed a salmon, gave a boisterous yell for incoming, then hurled the fish across the entire market to a partner who easily caught it without missing a step.
Donning our aprons the crowd grew exponentially as tourists with cameras at the ready stood by to watch our endeavors. Oh my gosh was I nervous as I made my way behind the counter and glanced nervously at all sorts of cell phones pointed my direction.
Confidently Ryan caught my eye with a "you've got this" look, called me by name which the rest of the fish guys called back, then launched a flying salmon my direction.
Taking what seemed like minutes to reach the other side of the counter even though it was flying at amazing speed (more seriously... I'm sure it was more like a light toss all of a few feet...) I don't think I've ever been so nervous to do something properly. Nor have I ever been so proud as when I didn't drop that fish and the crowd cheered resoundingly!
What a incredibly fun experience we all had, one that will cement the Pike Place Fish Market securely in my Seattle memories and one that will always make my heart swell just a little when I think about it.
Not done with our work for the day yet, the Girard's team whisked us to a nearby test kitchen where we met up with Dan, of Matt's on the Market, for instruction on salmon filleting and Dungeness Crab preparation.
I now know why I've always purchased my salmon already filleted, deboned and cut into pieces, but I can now also say that if I were presented with a whole fish... I could do it myself.
Equipment, i.e, a super sharp filleting knife, makes the work so much easier, and we learned to allowed the knife to do the work for us, not to "saw" through the beautiful salmon.
Up next Dan brought out Dungeness Crabs which needed to be cleaned. Here I'm ever so thankful my crab was somewhat frozen, and I cringed just a bit as Amy, of Everyday Dinners, worked next to me scooping the crab "butter" (the liver and pancreas) out with her bare hands. Not a job I think she'll be doing again anytime soon...
Apparently preparing the crabs for our own lunch, Dan showed us how to crack the shells for easier eating and told us the more work we did now in the kitchen the less work it would be at the table.
Crabs cleaned and salmon filleted, we made our way upstairs to Matt's on the Market where Girard's once again had a lovely table ready for us. And, featured on the menu was... fresh salmon and Dungeness Crab!
Opened in 1996, Matt's began as a small - only 23 seat - restaurant which boasted a fiercely loyal clientele who loved the ever changing menu based on what was available in the Pike Market downstairs.
When Matt decided to leave the restaurant, Dan Bugge - actually a star "fish thrower" for 11 years at the Pike Place Fish Market - began his dream of restaurant ownership. Keeping the restaurant name along with the passion to create culinary experiences, Dan continues the every changing menu based on the Pike Market seasonal offerings.
He and his staff have, however, made major upgrades to the restaurant including a new kitchen, expansion in both size and capacity, and the addition of a spectacularly well-stocked bar. When in town, reservations are highly recommend.
With freshly caught Dungeness Crab, perfectly filleted wild salmon and a table filled with new friends, our lunch passed far too quickly. Laughter rose time and again as we recounted our weekend and commented on our fish splattered sleeves. I don't think working for my lunch will ever again be as fun.
|Perfectly filleted salmon... Matt's on the Market | October 2014|