Help Save Bristol Bay Salmon!

July 17, 2012

Brennon Leighton, Efesté winemaker at The Last Salmon Dinner at Blueacre Seafood

On July 11, Spencer and I were lucky enough to attend a dinner that every Northwestern resident–heck, every American–should know about.

Held at Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle, The Last Salmon Dinner was hosted by chef/owner Kevin Davis and his wife and owner Terresa Davis. The couple’s aim, in addition to feeding a five-course, salmon-centric meal to an enthusiastic crowd of 70 people, was to expose the proposal by Pebble Limited Partnership, a consortium of the world’s second largest multinational mining corporation, to build an open-pit mining complex at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of our nation’s last great salmon fisheries.

The proposed mine will span 20 square miles, with containment ponds that will hold between 2.5-billion and 10-billion tons of toxic mine waste.

Needless to say, the environmental impact of the proposed Pebble Mine on the surrounding waters of Bristol Bay would be immeasurable, and irreversible.

So much so that chef Davis, a life-long fisher, posed the question: Will the last wild salmon to leave Bristol Bay please remember to turn off the lights?

Efesté (pronounced F-S-T), was the wine partner, and winemaker Brennon Leighton said he was honored when chef Davis chose his wines to represent this event.

But the dinner was not all environmental hand-wringing and finger-pointing. Chef Davis outdid himself with cooking and presenting Bristol Bay salmon at its finest.

Chef Davis’s Assorted Delicacies of The Sea included crispy smelt, albacore tuna poke, chilled oysters, and geoduck ceviche, paired with Efeste Feral 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is special because it’s fermented using native, wild yeast–no commercial yeast is added–then it’s aged in two-year-old French Oak barrels.

I’ve rarely had such a creative (and beautiful) rendition of gravlax as Davis’s Horseradish-Cured Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon with lovage salad (its lively notes of anise reminded me of fresh shiso leaf), pickled rhubarb, baby yellow and pink beets, and Austrian pumpkin seed oil paired with Lola 2010 Chardonnay, made from 100% Chardonnay and also fermented with native yeast and (refreshingly) not heavily oaked.

A zippy cup of Rainier Cherry Gazpacho with balsamic croutons, lavender goat cheese, and a flurry of edible flowers made a perfect (summery!) pairing with Babbitt 2011 Rosé, made from 71% Syrah and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, and normally available only at the winery.

A Roulade of Bristol Bay Salmon, morel mushrooms, summer truffles, and sauce cardinal was a mellifluous melding of earth and ocean. It went “swimmingly” with Ceidleigh (pronounced Kay-Lee) 2009 Syrah, a rich, ripe Syrah rife with dried cherries and plum notes.

Vanilla Pound Cake with the season’s best Skagit Valley strawberries and raspberries, mint syrup, and house-made “cool whip” pulled up the rear in grand style.

I left with pages of notes and much to think about, both in regards to the proposed Pebble Limited Partnership Mine, Davis’s culinary prowess with prized Bristol Bay salmon, and winemaker Leighton’s outstanding wine pairings.

Even if you weren’t able to attend The Last Salmon Dinner, YOU CAN HELP!

Write to your local congressman to STOP the building of the Pebble Mine at the mouth of Bristol Bay. And visit the Save Bristol Bay and Bristol Bay Sockeye websites for more information.

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