All that talk of Trillin a few days ago got me thinking of, well, many things, but the mind fixated on fish. Smoked fish. Russ and Daughters, to be exact, and their smoked sable and whitefish chubs. That led to fond memories of a small town in north-eastern Scotland, called Mallaig. I was there ten years ago, and spotted a line of locals going into a trailer-like store near the docks. It could have been socks or sweaters or something I had no interest in, but something told me to get on line and that is how I discovered, to great delight, an incredible fish store with peppered and smoked mackerel and smoked prawns among a vast display of sea treasures. I've never had the likes of it ever again (I'll go back, I swear, and heartily recommend it to you all!). The peppered and smoked mackerel had such a rich flavor, tender, neither too oily nor too salty nor in the least bit dry- the prawns had that fresh taste of the sea, crisp and succulent meat with just a mysterious touch of woodsmoke. The funny thing was that I ate all this on the beautiful train ride back through the mountains towards Glasgow, desperate to share this exultant experience, but alone in the train car except for a pair of American tourists who, I learned when I offered to share this amazing repast, were vegetarians and aghast at my blood meal. Anyway, here I am now unable to sleep, and hoping someone will point me towards a fix that will give respite.
Although I like the good stuff better, I can still enjoy smoked salmon from Trader Joe's- bland, but still a rich buttery texture and never off or old (at least not so far!). But I have yet to find a source of really good smoked sable or whitefish, and when that isn't really good and fresh it can taste terribly oily and just not worth it. Any reasonable sources in the Bay Area?
As for Trillin, I couldn't find tickets (or a babysitter), alas. I am still hoping that his daughter won't mind ferrying the message to him that chowhound acolytes await him here, to whisk him off to newfound esculent pleasures. Will keep you posted.