Sometimes there are very rainy Sundays on the coast of Maine. Sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed on those days. Sometimes nothing but the promise of extraordinary food will coax you. Such was last Sunday morning in my house.
Pounding-get-drenched-instantly-without-your-mackintosh rain was coming down. But the promise was of fresh fish. No, not “fresh fish,” but (and forgive me, vegetarians) this literally “just came off the boat and watch me fillet it for you while it’s almost still alive” fresh. Grey sole. My favorite. My 5 year old’s favorite. A beautiful fish similar to flounder and, bonus points, highly sustainable and very very local.
This meant a drive up to Port Clyde Fresh Catch. A family owned and operated fishing business located in the sleepy town of, you guessed it, Port Clyde. To get there we drove up Route 1, heading north, through Thomaston and took a right onto Route 131, onto the St. George Peninsula. You drive through the sleepy and oh-so-quaint and quintessential Maine coastal towns of St. George and Tennant’s Harbor until you hit Port Clyde, down at the end.
Yes. I piled my girls into the car for this adventure and, as you can see, they weren’t thrilled. (That’s because we weren’t seeing fish yet.)
It was exciting to discover that Port Clyde Fresh Catch is on the same road as Marshall Point Lighthouse. A gorgeous little lighthouse and museum that this mama full intends to return to. It looks like an ideal picnicking spot. Perhaps on a sunnier day.
But the mission was fresh fish.
And, boy, does this place deliver.
We got to “go around back” to watch the operation in action. In what I assumed would be its messy, gory, and most importantly, smelly, glory. It was surprisingly austere. Surprisingly clean (ish) and refreshingly… not fishy. Loaded with fish so fresh off the boat that it smelled only of brine and chill (if chill has a smell). This place smelled better than most kitchens. I took that as an excellent sign. We watched them fillet our 3 lbs of sole right there in front of us. Gorgeous. (No. I could never be vegan.)
The staff was very friendly and welcoming and loved the fact that Emmaline declared she wanted to work there when she grew up. We chatted with them about the catch and we were (easily) talked into leaving with some freshly picked crab meat to go with our grey sole.
(Tess was less thrilled than her Nonni about fresh fish.)
Sometimes you need to go to the source. Sometimes seeing where your food comes from, the (two, literally) people who handled it, makes it all the more delicious. Sometimes knowing you are supporting a hardworking family and getting something good, very good, is worth a couple of extra dollars a pound. The taste was the taste of something extraordinarily good. And very Maine.
Port Clyde Fresh Catch sells their fish and other splendid seafood offerings (skate, anyone? Tender and sweet Maine shrimp? Squid? Jonah crab?), right out of their offices in Port Clyde (watch the boats come in or go out if you can wake up that early), in various local food co-ops throughout the Midcoast, and offers a CSF. Yes! Just like a CSA but it’s all fish! You can find their fish on the menu at select restaurants. They appear to heartily welcome children to check out the operation and have a very friendly dog. I highly recommend a visit. Check out their Facebook page before heading out so you can see what marine delights they’ll have for sale when you get there.