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Friday, June 26, 2015

We Are Growing!

Dear Friends of Fantastically Fresh Fish,

By now most of you have heard that Kathleen's Catch is growing.   We have signed a lease at the Crabapple Mercantile Exchange Building on Crabapple Road in Milton and plan to open our second store sometime in August.   Not much will change around the Johns Creek store.  Colin will still be the manager.  Ashley and Bob will remain in Johns Creek.  Sandy McQueen, our sort of new employee, will be working a couple of nights a week. 

The biggest change is that Sara is going to be the new manager at the Milton location. You think it is going to be hard for you to say goodbye to Sara?  How about Ashley?   They have been buds for a long, long time.   Here's a photo of the two of them that is at least 10 years old:

 And here they are a year or two ago:

We can't keep all that pretty red hair in one store.  It just wouldn't be fair.

Speaking of red hair, our new location is at 12650 Crabapple Road in Milton, two doors down from the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub.   You may have seen the article in the L. A. Times recently listing the Olde Blind Dog as the 2015 best Irish pub by the extragalactic sounding Irish Pubs Global Federation. Click here for the article.  Yep Kathleen's Catch is next door to the best Irish pub in the world.   Is it a coincidence that we are locating next to an Irish pub?  Decide for yourselves.

I continue to be amazed at what a wonderful group of people shop at our store in Johns Creek.  And while our landlord in Johns Creek refers to the JC location as the "world headquarters of Kathleen's Catch", Johns Creek will always feel like home to me.

 It was drizzling as I came out of the building in Milton last week after a meeting.  This is what I saw when I reached the parking lot:

The biggest, brightest rainbow I have ever seen.  A sign?  I'll take it!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Sockeye Salmon from the Copper River and The Fishing Village Gets Built

Hey Y'all,

Happy Salmon Season!

It's a salmon lovers favorite time of the year!  The wild salmon season is underway and we have both king salmon and sockeye salmon in our store this week.

Wild salmon is a favorite subject of mine.  Every year I get to expound on the mystery of their journey home to their spawning ponds.  And every year I continue to be amazed by how many lessons we can learn from the life cycle of the salmon.

The Salmon Life Cycle
Newborn salmon (called alevin) begin life in freshwater creeks and rivers.  They enter the world with a food sack attached to them which nourishes them until they are big enough to leave the nest to search out food for themselves.  (Lesson #1:  Some creatures start life with a distinct advantage.)

Alevin with its food sack 

As they mature they become camouflaged with parr marks that keep them from being noticed by predators.  (Lesson #2:  Sometimes it is a good idea to just blend into the background.)

 When they get a little older they turn silver and are called smolts and head to the mouth of the river.  (Lesson #3:  A little silver does not mean you don't have a lot of living left to do.)

Smolts with parr marks

When they reach the estuary, where the river meets the sea, they adapt themselves to a saltwater environment.  (Lesson #4:  Be flexible.)

When they are able, they head out to the Pacific Ocean and spend most of the rest of their lives swimming sometimes thousands of miles in the ocean, maturing and storing up fat. (Lesson #5:  Work hard and save up, and don't forget where you come from.)

As they reach the end of their lives, they head back to the river where they were raised.  (Lesson #6:  Spend your life exploring, but when the time comes, you are going to want to be in familiar territory.)

Because they have spent years fattening up in the ocean and they are firm muscular fish, once they enter the mouth of the river, they don't eat any more.  (Lesson #7:  At some point in your life you are going to need to rely on resources you have previously earned.)

They use all their energy to power themselves up the river where they arrive at their natal stream, the place of their birth.  (Lesson #8:  You really can go home again.)

 The female sweeps her tail to create a nest and lays her eggs. (Lesson #9:  Provide enough for your children to get a good start.)

 The male comes along and fertilized the eggs.  (Lesson #10:  It takes two to tango.)
Both male and female salmon die.  (Lesson #11:  See what having kids can do to you?)

Building A Fishing Village

Last year, at Kathleen's Catch, we started contemplating what seemed to be close to impossible, building a fishing village in Honduras. At a $65,000 price tag, we were going to have to work pretty hard to make it happen.   

Why a fishing village?  Why Honduras?

A fishing village because, well, we are fishmongers and we make our living from the bounty of the sea.

And Honduras because we felt a strong desire to do something to help with the crisis of undocumented and unaccompanied minors crossing our southern border from Central America.  It was our thinking that if we could do something that would help to improve the lives of even just a small community in, say, Honduras, we could create an environment where parents would be able to raise their children.  Maybe they wouldn't feel like they HAD to send their children away on the dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States.

By mid-summer we had hooked up with Food for the Poor, worked out some details and started spreading the word to raise the money.  Our core team of volunteers worked very hard to plan fundraising events and to advertise our goal:  Tracey Slauer, Celeste Gravois, Janice Howard and Liz Yancey.    Here's another lesson to go with the salmon lessons:  You need something done?  Get with these four women.  No kidding.

Besides being eternally grateful to them, I  want to thank all the donors who wrote big checks (and small ones too), all the people who dropped change and dollars (sometimes even twenties!) in our change jar at the store, and all the businesses who provided us with services and products for our fundraising either free of charge or at greatly reduced prices.  Because of them we got a long way toward reaching our goal. 

And finally, when we had exhausted all our efforts and resources,  Light A Single Candle came in and took us the rest of the way.

So here we are, a year later, laying out the final plans for the construction of the La Laguna Fishing Village in Guanaja Bay Island, Honduras and anticipating a ribbon cutting in the fall.   I can hardly believe we have done it!

Thank you again, to all of my Johns Creek family.  You amaze me every day with your kindness and generosity.  Our little city is thriving because of good people like you.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, Scallops and Black Cod

Happy Birthday!

I can hardly believe 4 years has gone by!  We've met so many wonderful people that we are proud to call our friends.  Last Saturday we celebrated our 4th anniversary with our neighbors, Viande Rouge celebrating 4 years, and Johns Creek Wine and Crystal celebrating 3 years.  With all of us celebrating together we put on a great party!

Here's what it looked like before the crowds arrived:

You simply can not beat the barbeque supplied by Meating Street BBQ.  Their giant smoker was packed full of chicken and pork and, of course, salmon, rainbow trout and shrimp.  Delicious!

We had a jumping house for the kids which kept them entertained all afternoon while parents shopped, ate and tasted wine.  Johns Creek Wine and Crystal provided a free wine tasting:

Several suppliers of seafood sauces sampled their wares.

Yes, this is Reggie Kelly, former Falcons player, sampling his Kyvan products and talking football!

Ben Wade kept us rocking all day as we ate, drank and celebrated life.  Thanks to all our great friends, suppliers, neighbors and employees for a simply amazing afternoon.

Fin Mail from Sara Lym

I meant to drop you a note earlier about the scallops we bought in Johns Creek this weekend. OMG they were fantastic!  We bought 1.5 lbs, pricey but totally worth it at the end.  

I've only had experience cooking with the frozen ones...they're a mess to defrost, a mess to dry off, still watery when cooking, and cooks down to nubs.  Bleh.Now that I know it's the material and not the cook, we'll definitely be back for more scallops soon.  Addicting!! :)

You may have tried our scallops and loved them like Sara Lym did, but you might not know why ours are so spectacular.  Have you ever put your scallops on the grill or in a hot pan to sear them?  And when you did, did they just pour out water and never get to a good sear?  Want to know why that happens?  They are "wet" scallops - soaked in sodium tri-polyphosphate (often found in laundry detergent).  This chemical helps the scallop soak up water which increases their weight (and costs you more) and to increase their shelf life.

 So, unless you like your scallops soggy with a dash of chemicals, stick with ours.  They may cost a bit more but they are worth every penny.

This Week's Special - One of my favorites! Black Cod aka Sable 

My supplier has a special shipment of hook & line day boat black cod (aka as Sable or butterfish), from Prince Rupert on Vancouver Island coming in this week. These wonderfully fatty fish are not easy to get fresh because they are typically frozen and sent directly to Japan where they are preferred over Chilean sea bass because of the much richer and sweeter flavor.  In fact, about 20 years ago, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council cut the quota of black cod by 85%.  When black cod was no longer available to the Japanese, they began buying Chilean sea bass, a virtually unknown fish, as a substitute.

And finally,
Milestones like anniversary parties give you the opportunity to take stock.  4 years ago even my landlord was skeptical that I could make a seafood market a success.   Well, if truth be known, it wasn't just me.  It was all of us - all of you who gave me advice and criticism and ideas and encouragement.  We've come a long way in four years.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next four.  Thanks for everything.