(and free oysters!)

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I’ll be honest, this was the part of the event summary that caught my eye. Afishionado Fishmongers out of Halifax came to Sackville last night to do an info session on their Catch of the Week subscription program. Both before and after the presentation, which was held at the Sackville Commons, the lovely Hana Nelson brought several pounds of oysters, and shucked them right before our eyes with great skill and aplomb. I am not much of a raw oyster fan (I like them cooked up with garlic and cheese: see the Sackvillain Oysters Rockefeller recipe below), but Mr. Sackvillain was definitely in his glory!

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Afishionados are my kind of people. According to what we learned last night, all of their fresh and fresh-frozen seafood is sourced exclusively from small-scale, low-impact, community-based fishers and aquaculturalists. Their head office and warehouse are located in Halifax, and their processing plant is in Truro, NS, which is about an hour (ish) from the ‘ville. About 50% of their fish is sourced from Nova Scotia fishers, 25% from fishers across Canada, and 25% is sourced internationally. They are always on the lookout for new partnerships with fishermen and women who subscribe to the OceanWise philosophy.

Weekly subscriptions are based on one- or two-pound shares, and there are a few different options to choose from, including one that will let you alternate with fish one week and shellfish the next. The one-pound option is $20 per week, and gives you enough for a family of 2 (plus leftovers), and the two-pound option is $35 per week, which is enough for 4 (again, plus leftovers). They also have bulk options, which come with 8 half-pound portions of either white fish (the “School of Fish” share) or red and white (“Fit Fish”, which are full of Omega 3 acids), and are usually ordered once a month. You can sign up, skip a week, or cancel altogether, at any time. Our pick-up day in Sackville will be Friday after 12 noon, and response in town has been so great, the first pick-up will be next Friday, May 12!

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One of the things that I love about Afishionado Fishmongers is that one of the cornerstones of their business is education. The Maritimes are a small kettle of fish (ha!) compared to the rest of the seafood-eating world, and the fishery here has evolved to focus on global markets. The Seafood Expo North America is held in Boston, MA, every year, and the Atlantic provinces are always well represented. Trade delegations from all four Atlantic Canadian provinces go to Asia (China in particular), as well as South America (Brazil), the European Union, and even Russia to sell our top-grade fish and shellfish. Sadly, here at home, we simply do not have the population to make it worthwhile for the fishers to sell to us. You can, of course, buy fish at Sobey’s or the Superstore, but of that $15 halibut steak, how much money does the fisherman or woman see? Enter Afishionado. Their goal is to get good seafood, at a decent price, into the hands of the folks who live and work here, and the money directly into the hands of the people who sell it. Most of the folks I chatted with last night have no problem paying a bit more for the good stuff.

Speaking of which…

Sackvillains’ Oysters Rockefeller:

2 c cooked spinach, chopped; ½ c bread crumbs; 2 T bacon bits; 1 T parsley; 1 clove garlic, chopped

Mix well and add 6 T melted butter. Sprinkle over oysters on the half shell placed on a baking sheet over a bed of salt or crumpled tinfoil (this helps to level the wonky shells). Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and broil until bubbly.

By the way: Mr. Sackvillain and I signed up for the Big Mix, which will give us two pounds of fish and shellfish per week, alternating biweekly. I’ll keep you posted on our first bit of deliciousness next week!

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