Monday, March 1, 2010

FoodTrek: Cult of the Crustacean Nation

It's a fun night when foodie writers, bloggers and media folk get together over a meal, especially when it's a multi-course crab dinner paired with local wines. Aside from how many naughty crab jokes one can dole out and discussing the finer points of why The Wire was one of the best things to ever adorn cable television with the f-bomb, it was an occasion that brought up the noteworthy subject of the relationship between sustainability and restaurants. Seattle's Waterfront Seafood Grill played host to a five-course dinner that was like an edible tour of our crustacean friends, proving that "green" menus are a direction worth looking towards for the future.

Crab and sweet pea panna cotta in carrot broth - like peas n' carrots! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Waterfront Seafood Grill's Executive Chef Peter Levine prepared five courses with crab that were caught responsibly. Each course was paired with wines chosen by Wine Director Kristen Young, including selections from Sparkman Cellars. Along with Waterfront Grill's General Manager, Chris Sparkman, to help explain the finer points of sustainable fishing, Frank Ragusa, General Manager of Ocean Beauty Seattle introduced the dinner. Ragusa explained that responsible crab fishing relies on:

1) A strong biomass, or a healthy supply of crab living in a region and being aware of its population
2) Awareness of a fishing fleet's carbon footprint, and taking steps to offset the expenditures of fossil fuels
3) Using nets and fishing methods that are more selective towards catching only crab, unlike gill nets
4) Adhering to strict size regulations and only taking male crab, throwing females back

Utilizing fishing practices like these help to ensure that the fishing industry is sustained as well as the population of the sea creatures they catch.

A tasty catch at Pier 70 - Photos by Wasabi Prime

The Waterfront Grill, located at the end of Pier 70, is a popular place for Seattle visitors to experience a taste of the Pacific Northwest. Located near Pike's Market and the Edgewater Hotel, it offers wide views of the surrounding Sound as well as tastes of what the area has to offer. For those unfamiliar with both the region and the cuisine, their menu contains several local favorites and delivers a picturesque occasion dining experience. Introducing the theme of sustainability in the menu and making it a point to ensure patrons that the ingredients were responsibly harvested and caught, continues the growing movement towards a greener way of eating.

The dishes served during the annual "Cult of the Crab" dinner included a dressed up version of a traditional Crab Louie, the comfort food pairing of peas n' carrots with a crab and sweet pea panna cotta in a spiced carrot broth, a Dungeness version of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, a rich ravioli of Maryland blue crab, and a bold-flavored whole Maryland soft shelled crab fried over green beans and fennel.

It was a wide range of flavors for the different crab, each paired with different wines to compliment the flavors of the dishes. The variety of dishes and methods of preparation were a good overall reminder that being environmentally selective over ingredients doesn't limit one's options, instead it provides opportunities for obtaining local products as well as comfort in the knowledge that what is served on the plate was obtained through responsible methods.

A crabby meal -- but the ice cream sundae was seafood-free! Photos by Wasabi Prime

Aside from having the great opportunity to meet and chat with the media voices of Seattle, the dinner was a good way to promote the practice of being a self-aware restaurant patron. No matter where you eat, ask where ingredients come from and be selective in menu item selection, prioritizing items that were grown, caught or raised locally. As patrons of restaurants focus on more seasonal and regional items, it creates both a sustainable business environment for local companies as well as the environment we all share.

Wasabi Thanks to the entire team at Waterfront Seafood Grill, Ocean Beauty, and the team at Randall PR for all working in concert to bring this dinner together.

Bookmark and Share


  1. I just love seafood. It's great to know that certain restaurants are promoting sustainability in fish and seafood for the benefit of everyone. The photos are stunning. I still don't know how to take photos at the restaurant.

  2. I am also a massive seafood lover. Crab is among my favorites. It is interesting living in a country that does not really focus on sustainability at all. Japan's need to fulfill the demand for things like bluefin tuna, for example, overrule their desire to be environmentally conscious. I for one am hoping that will change and somehow still mean I can enjoy tuna! Anyway, loved this post- glad to hear you had a fun, delicious, and responsible meal :)

  3. What a fun night! That panna cotta looks incredible. Wish I lived in Seattle, I would give it a try!

  4. What a tough assignment this was! You have the life, huh? Sampling dumplings one week, and now on to 5 star crab dishes? I must be doing something wrong...The Sweet Pea Panna Cotta looks so pretty!

  5. Oh wow, this is just too beautiful to eat, I adore seafood, and crab is one of my favorites. I will certainly try this out next time I get to Seattle.

  6. the food looks gorgeous and lovely! sounds like you had a great evening with great company. so jealous!

  7. Sustainable crabs are great. I hope other restaurants follow this trend. The sweet pea panna cotta looks so delicious:) But I'm glad that the chef decided not to take the Iron Chef route and make you a crab ice cream too. it would be funny though. lol.

  8. Nice! I've never had savory panna cotta before. What an interesting idea.

  9. Looks like a lovely way to spend the evening. Wish I could have been there.

  10. Where do I get the recipe for this crab an pea dish?

  11. That panacotta looks delish.........I love savoury versions of regular sweet dishes. What a fab outing.............

  12. Hi,

    Recently I came across some great articles on your site. The other day, I was discussing ( ) with my colleagues and they suggested I submit an article of my own. Your site is just perfect for what I have written! Would it be ok to submit the article? It is free of charge, of course!

    Let me know what you think
    Contact me at

    John Anderson


Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)