The abundance of seafood has been a culinary hallmark of Virginia since people began cooking here. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, folks have long noted the variety and quality of local marine life. Captain Christopher Newport wrote in 1607:
“The main river [James] abounds with sturgeon, very large and excellent good, having also at the mouth of every brook and in every creek both store and exceedingly good fish of divers kinds. in the large sounds near the sea are multitudes of fish, banks of oysters, and many great crabs rather better, in fact, than ours and able to suffice four men.”
To help keep Virginia seafood sustainable, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach coordinates the Sensible Seafood program. Affiliated with the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, the program offers guidelines for best choices of seafood based on a number of factors such as whether the catch is fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways, if it contains contaminants, and so on. That program is celebrated annually with The Sensible Seafood Fest. This year’s fest takes place this Thursday, May 23 from 7 until 10 p.m.
The event showcases foods prepared with regionally-sourced, sustainable ingredients from around two dozen of the museum’s Sensible Seafood partner restaurants; a full list of participants can be found on the Aquarium’s website.
It’s a delicious time for foodies with the abundant of fresh, seasonal – and sustainable – dishes to sample. There is also beer and wine. Ticket prices are $40 for members and $45 for non-members, which include samples from all restaurants plus beverage tickets for beer and wine.
Educational components focus on restoration, sustainability and environmental stewardship of the Bay and environs. Look for a wide assortment of sustainable foods, from crab and oysters to fresh catch according to Karen Burns, an event organizer and educator at the aquarium.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is located within walking distance of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront at 717 General Booth Blvd. To speak to someone at the Aquarium about this event or for more information on the Aquarium’s summer programs, call 757-385-3474.
Patrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef, is a food authority on Chesapeake Bay regional cuisine and author of the book, “Dishing Up Virginia” which celebrates the food and foodways of the Old Dominion. His work appears in print, television and radio. Read more of his adventures of food at www.PatrickEvansHylton.com