What constitutes a hidden food gem? Hard to say really! I guess it’s something that not everybody would stumble across or know about if they were just passing through a place. We’ve been pointed to a few restaurants that we would probably never have ended up in had it not been for our amazing community. Those are gems.
But one of the most surprising places we found along our journey was a little workshop in Monterey. We were actually looking for a fishing boat and just wandered into this place to be greeted by Trevor. He was friendly and passionate about what he does, which helped draw us in. Then he showed us exactly what he does and we were hooked! (sorry, that was definitely a terrible seafood based pun).
Trevor and his team farm abalone, otherwise known as sea snails. It’s an unusual food for us. Most of us hadn’t even heard of them, but it has a long history with the area around Monterey. They were once abundant and available everywhere, until overfishing turned them into an expensive delicacy.
What these guys have done is to create a sustainable way of supplying abalone, which thrive in the very conditions created underneath the pier that we were stood on. We climbed down a ladder and were greeted by a maze of damp walkways (and a bunch of local sea lions too!).
Trevor told us that they have almost half a million(!) abalone in this farm, which is unbelievable considering it can take between 4 and 10 years for them to grow to a size where they can be sold. They gather a number of different kelps every week in order to keep the abalone on a very specific diet. The kelp can grow up to 18 inches a day, so it’s super sustainable… just like mowing the lawn, but quicker
We even managed to try some of the freshest seafood we’ve had. We were shown by Trevor how to prepare it, right out of the water, sashimi style with a squeeze of lemon. It was different to any seafood we’d tried. The texture was almost like a cross between raw vegetable and calamari. The taste was salty and fresh. It needed the lemon for balance!
We say it a lot, but we would never get to do this stuff without #LostandHungry. If you’re ever in Monterey look this place up, or next time you arrive somewhere new, try searching off the beaten track, or better yet ask a local where to go using #LostandHungry on Twitter.
Have you ever discovered anything like this before? Tell us about it in the comments!