It started with a fish

It’s funny how life sometimes goes round in circles. This story has many tangents and chapters before getting to the fish! Here we go ….

My daughter and I enjoyed watching the TV reality show Top Chef. So, when a Top Chef roadshow was announced some years ago, we had to go (my idea, of course). On the appointed day, we trekked up the highway for the event. In my usual manner, we arrived early, just as the first showing was ending. We had time in between to see the displays and chat (kibitz) with whoever was there.

Two contestants were part of the roadshow – Jeff McInnis and a woman chef. How did it start? As we chatted, I got myself asked to be the shill in the second show – I was planted in the audience to start the questions following the demonstration! What fun! How embarrassing for my teenage daughter! It did it and I got a Top Chef t-shirt.

Some time later, Jeff was the opening chef for a wildly successful restaurant in town featuring his special fried chicken. We went with some friends. As you may know by now, Constant Companion is as much a foodie as I am, but has sensitivities to dairy products. He made this known to our server and asked for recommendations. Wouldn’t you know, everything we ordered came out with some form of hidden butter, cheese, or other dairy. No could eat.

Jeff (we’re on first names by now) came to the rescue. Out he came from his kitchen. He quickly prepared samples of his specialties using olive oil. Love at first bite!

Sometime later, my former neighbor held a garage sale. You’ve got to love garage sales (this is part of the story, just wait). Who was sale-ing (do you know that verb for the act of cruising garage sales?) that day? Jeff … we chatted like long-lost friends. The guy either has an amazing memory or he’s just plain nice. You know, one of those very public people who has met tons of people and shows such a nice face like you’re his besty. That really makes a person feel good.

Ok, back to daughter and garage sales. She’s a fisherperson, attended our city’s summer fishing camp from third grade til graduation (along with Girl Scouts), and actually became a counselor-in-training. I also dragged her twice to a 6-week long workshop to make fishing rods and lures. She did enjoy it and … twon best at our county’s annual Youth Fair! A bookshelf in the house was topped with an array of miscellaneous fish trophies awarded for the most fish, the biggest fish, and more. In her recent return home, they were slated for donation to Goodwill. I should have taken a picture!

Garage sales are always a scavenger hunt. I’ve found great Haitian paintings and more. Several times, fish-oriented items appeared. One was an amazing scaling knife encased in a fish-shaped wooden sheath. Another was the beautiful, large wooden fish sculpture.

Well in the self-same, Marie Kondo style clearing out that led to the disposal of the trophies (I actually prefer Swedish Death Cleaning), the Fish no longer brought joy. Enter Jeff!

A few weeks ago, Constant Companion and I had enjoyed a bright, sunny afternoon at the South Beach Sea Food Festival (see Oct. 27 post). We were more than pleasantly surprised with the great time we had. The first food booth we passed was Jeff’s current seafood restaurant with Jeff front and center. I had a brainstorm – Fish could find a new home with him. Sure, he said, take it by the restaurant when you’re nearby.

Chef Kevin with tripletail
You can choose your own fish

About two weeks later, I dropped off Fish with a sad goodbye. He was greeted with open arms. An e-mail appeared in my in-box almost immediately; they loved Fish.

Coconut shrimp enrobed with crunchy kataife

The other evening Constant Companion and I went to visit. Fish now greets everyone immediately upon entering the restaurant! Oh, it made me so happy to say “Hello” to my old friend and to see him in his new home where he is loved. Not to mention the meal that followed. I had to have that succulent coconut shrimp again – so amazing. Constant Companion enjoyed the tripletail, a fish with which I am not at all familiar. I chose a delicious yellowfin tuna with rice and avocado. I also had to try to big beans. In Greek these are gigandes. Delicious, a meal in itself. We ended the marathon meal with the blondie in a skillet topped with banana ice cream. The latter tempered the very sweet blondie – yum.

Tripletail
Yellowfin tuna

With that, we bid Fish a very, very fond farewell and are assured that he is loved in his new home. Thanks Jeff … and Kevin, Jason, Erika, et al. Oh, the restaurant is Stiltsville.

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