Weird Crap I Cook: Shad Roe & Veal Brains

Last weekend we headed down to Naples to visit Mommy Ryan and get away from the cold weather in Boston.  If you’ve briefly visited Naples before, you might not think highly of the food scene there; lots of small strip mall restaurants or overpriced large restaurants downtown.  But, after a few years of visits to Naples I can confidently say it is one of my favorite places to eat despite then having to go shirtless at the beach and pool.  The food is diverse, high quality, and spans regional cuisine from across the country and other cultures as well.  Makes sense considering people move there from pretty much everywhere and want their favorite comfort foods nearby.

While visiting I sampled some incredible pastrami from Pastrami Dan’s (a retired New Yorker), fried sheep’s milk cheese with chicken livers and tender octopus from Pelagos, upscale Mexican from Masa, and traditional seafood at Kelly’s.  The bakeries and raw materials to cook at home are equally as diverse and awse.  A few examples:

Bells beer.  Tough to find outside of michigan but available in pretty much every grocery store around Naples.  Not a huge fan of the Oberon, but the Two Hearted Ale is a top 10 beer for me

Bells beer.  Tough to find outside of Michigan but available in pretty much every grocery store around Naples.  Not a huge fan of the Oberon, but the Two Hearted Ale is a top 10 beer for me

Those strip malls house small restaurants that make items like pissaladiere from Paris Bakery.  That's a croissant-like pastry rolled out and topped with onions cooked down in olive oil and anchovies.  Like the most confusing and buttery delicious pizza you've ever had

Paris Bakery lives in one of those anonymous strip malls and serves a mean pissaladiere.  That’s a croissant-like pastry rolled out and topped with onions that have been cooked down in olive oil and anchovies.  Like the most confusing and buttery delicious pizza you’ve ever had

Wagyu ribeye from Jimmy P's butcher shop and a never frozen tuna steak from Wynn's seafood market

Wagyu rib steak from Jimmy P’s butcher shop and a never frozen tuna steak from Wynn’s seafood market.  I took this after already coating the tuna steak with chili oil for the grill if you’re wondering what that bizarre orange stuff is

Jimmy P’s and Wynn’s have supplied the ingredients for previous blog posts including lamb kidneys and all posts involving head-on shrimp.  So, in addition to the two delicious pieces of meat shown above, I also tapped them for two odd items I’d never sampled before: veal brains and shad roe.

Veal brains are pretty self explanatory, but shad roe is the roe sack from a river herring that is usually only harvested for a brief period every year.  I learned all of that just now from Wikipedia, but I had long been interested in shad roe since Mooman has raved about it for years.  I was very excited when I saw it at Wynn’s, even though it is funky looking stuff.

I knew there was zero chance I would convince Kristi to eat this once she saw it

I knew there was zero chance I would convince Kristi to eat this once she saw it

Funky looking stuff, and apparently this wasn’t even half as bad as it looks when it is very fresh.  What’s in the container represents the two roe sacks from one fish, connected by a membrane in the center.  At this point I couldn’t understand what all the fuss (primarily from Mooman) was about; it looked just like any other roe sack from a fish.  And those other roe sacks tend to cook up mealy, flavorless, and insanely dry.

Just looked like a larger and less fresh version of the Tilefish roe sacks retrieved from Jason's fish in Eleuthera.  Not a promising comparison

Just looked like a larger and less fresh version of the Tilefish roe sacks retrieved from Jason’s fish in Eleuthera.  Not a promising comparison since that just tasted like salty sand

While a few pats of butter melted in a sautee pan, I separated the roe sacks from the center membrane and seasoned heavily with salt and black pepper.  Once the butter started to brown slightly, I added the shad roe to the pan.

The smell was entirely just butter and garlic (I threw a sliced clove in), but this still wasn't promising food for anyone but me

The smell was entirely just butter and garlic (I threw a sliced clove in), but this still wasn’t promising food for anyone but me

After a few minutes of saute time, the roe sacks appeared to be firming up a bit so I flipped them and squeezed a little lemon juice into the pan as well.

Color and everything was looking solid, but the shape and visible texture makes this a not easy entry point food.  Me, I was ecstatic to eat something I've never eaten before.  It could have looked awful (as I will prove later)

Color was looking solid, but the shape and visually concerning texture makes this not an easy entry-point food.  Me, I was ecstatic to eat something I’ve never eaten before.  It could have looked awful (as I will prove later) and I would still excitedly eat it in that scenario

After a few more minutes, I divided each roe sack in half and moved them to pieces of toasted baguette.  The remaining butter stayed over medium heat with an additional splash of white wine and a squeeze of additional lemon juice.  After a couple minutes of reducing the sauce while stirring constantly, I poured a few spoonfuls over each of the pieces of shad roe and served.

I could not come up with a vehicle to hold the pieces of shad roe and also absorb the sauce.  Mommy Ryan had some leftover bread from a recent dinner which explainst the jagged edges

I could not come up with a creative vehicle to hold the pieces of shad roe and also absorb the sauce.  Mommy Ryan had some leftover bread from a recent dinner which explains the jagged edges

Definitely the best fresh roe I’ve ever tasted since it didn’t have any of the negatives that you usually get with fish roe; not fishy, no mealiness, and the eggs still had a little pop to them.  The flavor was very mild and had a little clam-like flavor.  The brown butter, wine, and lemon sauce was a nice complement without overpowering the flavor of the roe.  The bread was probably a little unnecessary, but it did a good job of absorbing the sauce and minimized the need for utensils.  As usual with the odd stuff, Janet enjoyed it.

Not the cutest picture, nor the greatest moment in person since she was mashing each piece into hundreds of tiny eggs on the way to her mouth.  Since she is in her PJs, I'm guessing a significant amount joined her in the crib that night

Not the cutest picture, nor the greatest moment in person because she was mashing each piece into hundreds of tiny eggs on the way to her mouth.  Since she was in her PJs, I’m guessing a significant amount of eggs joined her in the crib that night

Now on to the veal brains.  The moment you’ve been waiting for!

Jimmy Ps has a whole freezer case full of items that qualify for WCIC posts, but I liked the small size and price of this one

Jimmy Ps has a whole freezer case full of items that qualify for WCIC posts, but I liked the small size and price of this one.  Also, I love the comical brevity of meat labeling.  I feel like organ meat labels should hem and haw like someone trying to hide what the meat truly is until you sample it

I’ve had some ups (goat) and downs (sheep) with brains over the past few years, but I thought veal would be a solid choice since I assumed the flavor would be mild.  The brains went into a cold water bath for about 6 hours, changing the water regularly.

Once the water remained relatively clear after 30 minutes, I removed the brains to dry them and lay out on the cutting board.  You knew this foto was coming at some point and it ends up being pretty brutal.

Worst shot of the blog!  Let's get through this quickly.  I would have preferred that it was a couple distinct brains but these were clearly separated from their surrounding membrane pretty indelicately.

Worst shot of the blog!  Let’s get through this quickly.  I would have preferred that it was a couple distinct brains but these were clearly separated from their surrounding membrane pretty indelicately

The brains were soft and there was a fair amount of brain stem pieces.  Good god this sucks to write about.  Let’s fast forward to when I was done cutting into individual pieces and tossing in flour seasoned heavily with salt and pepper.

Phew, much better.  Further proof that frying makes everything better, even just the process of frying

Phew, much better.  Further proof that frying makes everything better, even just the process of frying

I coated the pieces in flour and fried in two batches.  While I was in the process of trimming and coating, I had a pan of vegetable oil and some bacon fat heating on the stovetop.  Once a small piece of bread browned within 30 seconds when dropped in the oil, I added the brain pieces to the oil.

I was hiding from the oil as usual at this point.  Also, this was my 4th or 5th consecutive deep frying in someone else's home.  Screwing over friends and family with oil stank since 2010!

I was hiding from the oil at any time that I wasn’t taking pictures.  Also, this was my 4th or 5th consecutive deep frying in someone else’s home.  Screwing over friends and family with oil stank since 2010!

After 3-4 minutes I flipped each piece then cooked for a few more minutes before transferring to paper towels to drain off any excess oil.

Very happy with the frying, these were solid and crispy.  Kinda limping to the finish line here

Very happy with the frying, these were solid and crispy.  Kinda limping to the finish line here

The next batch headed (wokka wokka) into the oil and went through the same flipping and draining process.  Originally I had hoped to drizzle a little butter, lemon, and caper sauce but I forgot about it while it was on the stove and that didn’t really work out for me.  So. instead, I squeezed a little lemon over the pieces and topped with chopped parsley and shredded parm.

Toppings that work with pretty much any savory fried food.  Learned that one in Sovicile, Italy when about 30 whole fried sardines were served this way

Toppings that work with pretty much any savory fried food.  Learned that one in Sovicile, Italy when I made it through a gigantic plate of whole fried sardines served this way

I was relatively confident that these would be tasty but I was surprised they turned out as well as they did.  The coating was salty and had some smoky pork flavor from the bacon grease.  The texture and flavor of the brains was almost identical to veal sweetbreads, with a crunchy fried exterior.  The meat was soft and creamy, which might sound off-putting but it is why it pairs so well with a crunchy coating.  The flavor was very mild and only slightly beef-like, which also makes it very difficult to describe.  Just try sweetbreads next time you see them on a menu and you’ll get what I am talking about.

After biting into this one I was horrified to realize that they weren't that far off from the beloved dark meat chicken McNuggets from my youth.  A little creamier, but similar fat flavor and texture

After biting into this one I was horrified to realize that they weren’t that far off from the beloved dark meat chicken McNuggets from my youth.  A little creamier, but similar fat flavor and texture

I was most impressed with how much of that pile of fried food we went through.  Janet had been in bed for a few hours so she was of no help, but between me, Tim, and Mommy Ryan we made it through all but a couple of these.  Kristi pretty much sat out all adventurous foods in this meal.

I need to take a few weeks off from WCIC after this one.  This one was odd even by my standards.

Weird Crap I Cook: Surf and Turf

It doesn’t sound that odd, but “Surf & Turf” does cover a broad variety of food combinations.  To me, the traditional surf and turf consisting of filet mignon and a previously frozen, warm-water lobster tail is the surest sign of an awful restaurant; just two overpriced bland food items.  The different takes are always the best ones, which is how we ended up with offal, reptile, and fish for dinner when we were down in Naples.

It all started at Jimmy P’s butcher shop in Naples, FL.

Like most awesome food spots in Naples, Jimmy P's is in a rather anonymous strip mall. Made a suburban-raised Jersey kid feel right at home

Along with lots of nice looking cuts of high-quality meat, they also have a few cases of more interesting and unique items.  As you look left to right at the freezer cases, they start you with the game meat sausages, advancing to the tiny birds and poultry liver mousses, before culminating with a case full of organ meats.

After 15 minutes of pacing, leaving grease streaks on the glass with my nose, and defrosting the freezer with constant opening and closing, I paid for my lamb kidneys and gator fillets.

The sub-$4 price tag and lack of required cooking time helped these kidneys beat out the veal tongues and sweetbreads they were competing with. I wish they packaged all offal in cheap(er) quarter-pound one man portions

After some research, it seemed that one of the most common methods for prepping lamb kidneys is to soak in heavily dilluted vinegar.  I didn’t like the idea of this since I hate the rubbery, bad ceviche-like outside that citrus juice or vinegar gives to meat when marinating.  However, I’m also an idiot and blindly followed the recommendations of some anonymous internet recipe poster.

I ended up regretting that decision when I saw the outside had changed color 20 minutes later.  I pulled the kidneys out of the diluted vinegar soak and rinsed them thoroughly to stop the pickling effect before slicing each one in half.

Despite the whitened vinegar-cooked outside, these were still much cooler looking food than beef kidneys. My poor mother invites us down to visit and I thank her by preparing organ meats in her pristine kitchen while belching loudly and muttering curses at her dull knives

After the internets failed me, I fell back on my previous knowledge of kidneys and soaked them in milk followed by salted cold water.  The goal was to draw out whatever blood and funkiness they held inside.

While those sat in the fridge and reduced the resale value of Mommy Ryan’s condo, Tim got started prepping the pound of gator fillets.

Looked suspect and tourist trap-y, like some sort of airport souvenir or a sweatshirt the Mooman would buy if he visited the Everglades

Alligator is a little gimmicky and is on the menu at a lot of crappy theme restaurants in Southwest Florida.  However, it’s also pretty delicious if done right; like salty tender chicken scallopine that’s been tenderized by the spiky side of a mallet.  It sounds specific, but it’s a pretty solid analogy according to the writer of said analogy.

Tim planned to set aside some of the larger pieces for grilling and fry up the remaining chunks.  Worked for me, but I insisted he come down to the pool and help me start the grill since I am scared of grills and he is a real man and all.  Friggin jerk.  Here’s what headed to the grill along with two (varying degrees of) portly Ryans:

Olive oil, salt, and lots of pepper. The kidneys were mild smelling enough that they didn't seem to need a ton of extra flavor covering them. I had an arugala and lime aioli waiting just in case

The gator fillets. Figured these would be the under-the-radar best item on the table

A couple thick tuna steaks with a little toasted sesame oil to avoid sticking to the grill. Had to feed Kristi something. Note the Bell's Oberon in the background that I was extremely excited to find until I realized I was drinking their summer beer in February. Still pretty delicious though

With the grill safely started by Tim (while I hid behind the deck furniture with my fingers in my ears), we let it heat up for 5-10 minutes and threw everything on.

Just a wonderful sight, even if the lamb kidneys looked mildly disturbing on the left side. The next day some condo association busybody complained about the residue left on the grill while Tim and I whistled and looked at the flowers and cracks in the floor

The grills are quality ones, and the setup is great, but they just didn’t get hot enough despite being cranked to high the whole time.  Against every instinct, I had to lower the cover for a bit.

"What you guys doing:}?!?!?", "OMG!!!", "I ❤ them! TTYL!!!!" What can I say, I am a 32 year old dad who texts more than a teenage girl and with even less coherence. I also wear slippers with my DB lax-daddy shorts and pink shirt

After a few minutes, I opened the lid, flipped everything and cooked with the uncovered for another 5-10 minutes.

Kidneys had some of the crispy char I was looking for, and the gator looked decent, but I already knew the tuna was going to be over. I think I took it off a split second later while saying hateful sh*t about myself under my breath

After everything had some good marks on both sides, we loaded onto platters and made the trip back up to the condo.  The kidneys had a remarkably mild smell considering how strong organ meat can smell when cooked.

I would have preferred the kidneys be borderline burned on both sides. No idea why, burned kidneys sounds awful

The grilled gator was tender and full of flavor.  Because it is served in so many fried preparations, usually using the gristle-heavy cheap cuts, gator gets a bad rep.  I honestly think a piccata with gator fillets would be incredible after how good the grilled version was.

The kidneys were interesting.  The flavor of beef kidneys reminded me of gamy lamb, so I assumed that lamb kidneys would be like mega-gamy lamb.  I ended up being incorrect for a change, and they weren’t too bad;  a little rubbery with some mild liver/organ meat flavor, complimented well with an acidic sauce.  Unfortunately the arugala and lime aioli I made broke while I was at the grill which was a bit of a bummer.  File lamb kidneys in the “I’m glad I tried it but I’ll pass on thirds” category.

Acknowledging my mistakes here with that tuna. That's what I'd expect on a salad at a TGIFridays, thank god It had a decent sauce for dipping (same as my dumpling sauce)

The best item, which came together entirely while I was at the grill so I can’t take credit (though I will if you offer it), was Tim’s fried gator nuggets.  Salty, tender, crispy, well seasoned with Old Bay and served with a garlic mayo, friggin’ delicious from a friggin’ jerk

I could have eaten this whole plate, I love that slightly fishy chicken taste that gator has. Oh, and anything salty and fried

We will need to experiment with gator some more on our next visit, along with whatever else Jimmy P’s has to offer.  Really good.

Will try to break up the WCICs with some cookies or mac & cheese or something next week.  However, there are definitely some good meals in the queue after picking up 40 lbs misc. cow parts from Uncle Billy last weekend in Vermont.  Not to mention the bag of lamb hearts and tongues from David at Snow Farm that was left for me to pick up in Lexington, MA.  You end up with a lot of awesome random food when you write a random food blog.

Kingfish and Spanish Mackerel

First, happy new year.  Second, back to regular posting after 2+ weeks on the road during Kristi and my school vacations.

Once we got back to shore from the fishing trip in the previous post, we laid the catch out on the handy cutting board setup at the dock.

I have pictures that frame the fish better, but this captures the Hitchock-ian arrival of hordes of pelicans and seagulls once the fish hit the table. They knew there were delicious scraps coming their way

In case you forgot, Tim reeled in the kingfish, Kristi got the biggest spanish mackerel, mine second, and John’s is the one that looks like bait.  Big Al and his trusty sidekick volunteered to fillet the fish for us and we were all happy to take them up on it.

The fillets that came off the kingfish were HUGE. But, I just want to reiterate, that the size of the fillets had nothing to do with Tim's skills as a fisherman. He was just the first person to the fishing rod. Freaking jerk, I'll show him

I was amazed by the simplicity of the mackerel anatomy; cut down to the spine, slide the knife to the end, then go back to remove the off-tasting bloodline area.  Theoretically, I liked the idea of keeping the heads and bones to make stock with but the smell would ruin all the nice stuff in my mom’s condo and I had no ideas for meals that needed fish stock.

What was missed by the camera was an opportunistic seagull grabbing one of the mackerel fillets. And that John's fish was so small the capable hands of Big Al could only get one fillet off of it

We said goodbye to our captains and headed back to Mommy Ryan’s condo for naps and brainstorming about what to do with the fish.

Quick sidenote: a month or so ago, Tim was hanging out with A|DB superfan Matt Bendle: a friend of Tim’s from college and slow-cooked BBQ afficianado.  Matt commented on how he wanted me to use more cooking methods and that (this really stung) I seem to make a lot of tacos.  I was pretty proud of my venison tacos, but that did make 4 out of my 18 posts that ended up inside a tortilla.  Plus, I had already made this meal and hadn’t written about it.  Sooooooooo he was completely right, I will take his advice/do less tacos, and also call him a jerk at any opportunity I have.

Back to the fish cookin’.  Surprisingly, we decided to make some fish tacos out of the kingfish and prepare the other mackerel fillets a little more traditionally.

We had to cut the ends off the kingfish fillets to fit them on the broiling pan

The grayish pieces are the ends of the kingfish

Big Al debunked our assumption that the mackerel would be oily and darker meat and told us to treat the fillets like a whitefish, which we did.  The kingfish was coated with a little garlic powder, salt and pepper and broiled it for about 15-20 minutes.  The spanish mackerel fillets were meant to be served outside of tacos so we added butter, dill, minced garlic, thin lemon slices, salt and pepper then wrapped in tin foil to be baked.

Pretty traditional, but also never really disappoints

While the fish cooked, Tim and I made some garnishes for the tacos.  We decided on a fresh tomato salsa, cilantro leaves, and an aioli style guacamole.  Again, aioli is just a nice way of saying that garlic and olive oil are involved.  Break out the cuisinart mini-preps which every Ryan owns because our mother gave them as a Christmas gift one year and again a few years later.

Red onion and garlic, always the first things that go into the mini prep

Once that was well chopped, we added two ripe avocados, lots of cilantro and lots of lime juice.  Fine, I’ll admit it, Ryans love mayo so I added a little bit of that as well knowing that Kristi wouldn’t be eating it due to her avocado allergy.

The avocado was probably one day away from looking too dodgey to eat. It was right on the ripe vs. overripe line

Through the mini prep for about a minute.

Nice texture with a lot of flavor. Could have used a little more lime juice

The kingfish came out of the oven looking great and I was amazed that the meat looked almost identical to haddock in how flaky and white it was.

In hindsight we should have skinned it before cooking but it mostly stayed on the pan when we moved it to platter

With the lemon and dill fillets in the oven, we were ready to start the eating.  Here are some out of focus shots of the salsa and guac.

Dece work by Tim, nice and fresh tasting

Thicker than I'd hoped. Would probably drop the mayo and add some vegetable stock or water to thin it out next time

For the kingfish we just broke it up with a spatula and served with tongs.  The full spread:

Mom's serving table suffers from similar lighting issues to our Philly apartment, hence the flash

And the finished product…

Would have been better on a traditional corn tortilla but we had limited options in Naples

Tim remarked that it was the best fish taco he has ever had and I tend to agree.  The kingfish had a light flavor but the density worked really well in taco form.  The freshness was also, obviously, better than I had experienced before.  The spanish mackerel fillets also came out well.

The pink color of the fish is accurate, not just a lighting issue

The difference from the kingfish was surprising and much closer to how I expected mackerel to taste.  The flavor and texture were similar to a thin fillet of salmon and much richer than the kingfish.  Part of that might have been the butter and being cooked in an enclosed package instead of roasted, but it was still noticeably different.

And that was it.  Hoping next time we go out we can get some grouper to experiment with, possibly in a few weeks over MLK weekend.

Foraging for Food: Mackerel

You know it’s been awhile since you posted when it’s mid-December and the start of your post is “Over Thanksgiving…”.  Sorry ’bout that, Papers/presentations/exams/parties got in the way.  Hopefully I can get back on track and make some good meals over the next few weeks.

Over Thanksgiving, the Ryan bros and Kristi headed down to Naples to visit Ma Ryan.  Once we all arrived Thursday AM the process of eating way too much began, starting with a midday Thanksgiving buffet at the Ritz.  But, we didn’t want to miss out on Thanksgiving leftovers so we made a turkey and fixins anyway.

Tim and I put together our “stuffing of the gods” which we started making 5 years ago thanks to some creativity by Tim.  Dry white bread, onions, celery, garlic, lots of sage, and Jimmy Dean sausage.  It could also be called “stuffing of the borderline obese,” but our name helps us feel a little better about ourselves.

Mmmm, stuffing of the gods. The ones that eat pork at least

Well, if you thought that was over the top, you’re not going to feel much better once you see the way we sent our turkey into the oven.

Mom's kitchen lighting is a whole lot better than our Philly apartment's

We learned this one from Aunt Jeannie who cooks her turkey with thin cut slices of salt pork laying on top.  The salt pork, or bacon in our case, keeps the skin moist and gives the pan gravy a smoky flavor.  The key is removing it halfway through the cooking process so that the skin gets crispy without drying out.  Oh, and eating it after you remove it.  We also added a new twist this year:

A little sneaky sage with every slice of bacon

Ryan’s love sage and Kristi is learning to love it.  Also, note the full cavity of stuffing which I successfully accomplished this year without punching my hand out the other side.  It came out of the oven a few hours later while I was in the process of getting ready for our Ritz trip.  The resulting photo was posted by Tim on

My emotions associated with this are far closer to pride than embarrassment

Nothing says Thanksgiving like mustaches, undershirts and white boxer briefs!  A short three hours later I was more full than I have ever been before and it was only 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  That buffet completely knocked us out of commission and we barely touched the turkey until much later in the vacation.

John ate an absurd amount at the buffet. At 6:30, when Tim and I were still breathing in a labored manner from overeating, we finally wondered where John had disappeared to. That query led to us discovering him fast asleep on an ottoman where he had been for over an hour, still in his Ritzin' outfit

Which brings us to the title of this post.  The day after Thanksgiving, my mom arranged for a family fishing boat charter.  According to our captains, the plan was to troll for Spanish Mackerel and Kingfish and then bottom fish for Grouper.  I was very excited since I love catching or finding blah blah blah blah blah blah.  No need to repeat that statement for the 50th time on this blog.

Mommy and Tim cattily critiquing the multi-million dollar waterfront properties on the way out to sea. Stephen Spielberg's massive house, that he has probably only been to once or twice, was a highlight

Once we got out of the channel and into the gulf, Captain Al (my guess is his nickname is “Big Al”) secured two rods and put two trolling lines out.  Which is when the anxious staring began.  What you don’t realize until you actually see a fish on the line is that it is completely unmistakable, so I was jumping up every time a line twitched slightly.  After I reeled in a small mackerel that fell off the hook, Tim jumped for the next fish on the line which was significantly bigger.

Cameras don't lie the way your eyes can in the moment. That little silver shimmer looked like Tim was reeling in a trash can at the time

Tim’s a big guy, but it was definitely a battle for him.  The fish were too small to justify a chair, so it was just a lot of pulling, reeling, and then the fish taking some line out.  Eventually he got it close to the boat.

Things going through my mind: "Is that a tuna? I bet its a tuna", "How come Tim gets to reel in the big one? Stupid jerk, I'll show him" and "Should I ask if there is anything gross on the fish that I can eat raw?"

Big Al moved quicker, and with more precision, than I thought possible and hooked the kingfish to bring it on board.  To say that there was a lot of adrenaline and jubilation aboard the boat is an understatement.

Thats a fish to be proud of Tim. Jerk

With Tim’s 30″ kingfish kicking off the trip, and this post getting way too long, lets hit on everybody’s big catch of the day.

Oh, thats an adorable Spanish Mackerel, John! Maybe we can salt it and use it as a pizza topping if you catch a few more! (oh, and thats Big Al)

She throws a baseball better than me, runs faster than me (despite two knee reconstructions), knows more about hunting than me, and now catches bigger fish than me. Cuz shes my wahf... ... ... and thats mah life

To get revenge on Kristi for emasculating me by constantly outdoing me, I like to grow the most masculine mustaches known to man each November

Mommy Ryan CRUSHED us in the grouper fishing portion of the trip by catching the largest grouper by far. However, the fish came up about an inch short of the limit, which was a big bummer. How 'bout Kristi striking a pose like she's modeling high heels in the background?!?!?

The photo order isn’t entirely accurate.  I actually caught my mackerel late in the trip.  Previously, I had only caught a bunch of sand perch and a decent sized bonito tuna.  Although the tuna was a decent fight, they are apparently pretty gross to eat since all of the meat is similar to the bloodline on a regular tuna.  So, basically, I was being a brat and insisted on reeling in the fish we trawled for late in the trip since I wanted to catch something we would eventually eat.

I really enjoyed fishing in Naples.  The quality and freshness of the fish combined with cooking made for a great day.  Plus Big Al and co. have a well run and totally reasonably priced business that I would recommend to anyone.

I had originally planned on making thanksgiving, fishing trip, fish cleaning, and the fish meal all one post, but this is already way too long.  Plus, it means I will definitely have a post to put up early next week.  Till then…