Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
For some reason this reminds me of a Happy New Year all y'all ...
Thursday, December 31, 2015: I’m not big on New Year’s, per se. That said, I’m perennially gung-ho for any given day that might spark folks, like myself, into taking action toward a new and better direction in life – even if it means nervously erasing the old slate for a new one.
It might even come down to pressing this ...
Unless you're happily one of these types ...
Also, I’m not big on resolutions, but I’m huge on compactly vowing to make amends with the ghosts of the past --as in, should old acquaintances and bad habits be forgot.
As to bad habits ... well, they can sometimes just be a matter of perspective
With that in mind, here’s hoping you find this year-switch as a timely and honorable way to kick-off personal efforts to improve life – and limb. Hey, more than many-of-us could use some bodily improvements, oft begun by giving up those bad habits and exercising new and improved lifestyles.
Yoga might help ...
then again ...
Exercise for one and all ...
For those who wish 2015 would never end, my congratulations to a year-of-years, may the good times carry over into 2106 – with maybe some extra you can shoot my way. When it comes to chocolate and good luck, I’m always ready to feast.
I drove the beach toward the last vestigaes of the replenishment. Below is a video showing some odd, pure-white sand that mixed in with the orange-ish sands many of us have had short-lived doubts about. I say "short-lived" because many once-orange sand stretches have been rinsed and sun-bleached to near LBI “sugar sand” quality.
I did get into a minor verbal tussle with a watchmen semi-watching the final heavy-equipment action -- as the last of the Great Lakes demobilization process plays out. As I drove past the small lingering work area, a man in hardhat and orange vest jumped in my path and got testy about my being there – even though I was driving in other tracks where prior buggying had gone on. We exchanged unpleasantries, my main gripe being why he --and another watchman inside a tiny shed -- weren’t simply posted at either end of the unmarked closed zone, turning back any motoring and beachcombing folks cashing in on an amazing beach day.
The exchange didn’t go too far. I readily drove off. However, I admittedly hadn't been overly hospitable, knowing Great Lakes, for whom these jaded watchmen worked, was sorta abandoning us.
I then drove all the way to Holgate, along the beach, and saw that Beach Haven, while still in real need of sand salvation, has gotten a goodly flow of sand littorally drifting down from that replen action being completed to the north.
I could tell the Queen City sand was pumped material by its slight off-color and also the sand dollars.
As I oft note, sand dollars are purely the result of pumped in sand. Please don’t tell me you’ve been finding sand dollars on the beach your whole life, unless you five years old. Being a lifelong beachcomber and fanatical metal detectorist, I’ve seen every common item that has been a-beach for over the past five decades. The sand dollars are new arrivals, via the in the replen sands. I've yet to figure how old those pumped in sand dollars are but they could be ancient, maybe even many thousands of years old.
SNOWY OWL UPDATE: Possibly NJ’s lone snowy owl for this winter is still perching down Holgate, with Jim V. doing photo duty today.
Above: Jim. V ... https://exit63.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/lbi-snow-owl-nap.jpg
If you’re only going to get one snowy, this is the one to have. It’s so snow-white it looks like a shapely bag of cotton puffs laying out there. OK, so maybe that’s not logical but believe me that’s one white-ass bird.
BASS: There are still bass to be had, per sharpies. I even hear that jigs are working. While I’ve been lax in my bass seeking, I would like to score one on the first day of January. In fact, that has long been a bit of a New Year’s Day pursuit for many an angler. This year it should be a shoe-in for anyone putting in the time – and soaking some bait. Jigging is way iffier.
Just a reminder for buggyists to get your new permits for 2016. I don’t think there ill anything like an instant crackdown but it’s just more fun driving the beach when all legal and stuff.
We’re about to see a very long west wind stint, including a few days of SCA westerlies. For those who still have their boats in, this wind whacking could present some mooring problems. I wasn’t surprised to see how many boat anglers pulled out for the season this week.
For those of you off the Island for a protected time, “friend” me on Facebook so I can keep you posted on what’s what on LBI throughout the winter. If you need some specific info, emailed me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’m always looking for cool (and utterly odd) story ideas for my weekly column at http://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com. I should note that sometimes I get real backed up with my job so I can run a tad late with responses. Don’t hastate to re-email.
Here's that video of the demobilization of the beach replenishment project.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Fox News] By Sky McCarthy - December 31, 2015 -
Along with popping open a bottle of Champagne, enjoying decadent food is a time-honored New Year’s Eve tradition, signifying good fortune for months to come.
And few foods are as decadent as a ridiculously expensive tin of caviar.
Petrossian's 'Ivan the Terrible' caviar tin can hold almost 10 kilos of caviar and weighs in at an impressive 22 pounds.
“Caviar has always been enjoyed at big Russian feasts, and New Year’s is one of the most celebrated holidays,” says Alexandre Petrossian, vice president of the luxury gourmet foods purveyor that bears his surname. “As caviar became more popular throughout Europe, the tradition was Westernized, and now many people toast the season with it.”
Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian, the brothers who founded Petrossian in Paris in 1920, are credited with popularizing caviar outside of Russia. Today, Petrossian is one of the largest caviar distributors in the world, sourcing sturgeon eggs from hatcheries across the globe, including Florida, California and Israel. Though “caviar” is often used loosely to refer to any type of fish eggs, true caviar comes only from sturgeon, and its color ranges from light brown to almost black.
That bright orange stuff in your sushi? It’s probably salmon roe.
That’s fine for any Thursday night, but if you’re looking to really blow it out when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, Petrossian is offering a tin of any caviar of your choice – 22 pounds of savory fish eggs – for only $125,000.
If you’ve never tasted caviar, imagine tiny, slightly salty bubbles that melt into a slightly briny (like oysters) creaminess in your mouth.
“Great caviar should have a buttery smoothness to it and shouldn’t really taste fishy at all,” Petrossian says.
Though the idea of eating fish eggs may be a turn-off to the uninitiated – or to people who have tried inferior varieties – Petrossian says its smooth, buttery offerings usually win over even the most squeamish of them. Just ask the tasters from Chew on This who sampled three premium Petrossian varieties.
The company’s Royal Siberian caviar – tiny dark gray pearls with a slightly nutty pop and less briny finish – is one of the company’s mildest offerings. It comes from farm-raised sturgeon in Florida and retails at $91 for 1.06 ounces.
The Alverta President caviar – with light gray and brownish pearls – comes from a Sacramento hatchery and starts at $125 for just over an ounce. It’s still buttery, but the beads are slightly firmer and have a more robust brininess that lingers on the palate.
"I love the slight pop-pop of this on the tongue. It's smooth and a little bit nutty – like I wouldn't even guess this was seafood," said a taster who had never tried caviar before.
On the more expensive side, with tins starting at $176, the Tsar Imperial Ossetra caviar is for the true caviar lover. It has firm, medium-sized dark brown beads with a rich sea flavor that is as bold on its own as it is with toast.
“I’ve never had a caviar like this. I thought I wouldn't like it, but this really isn’t salty. It’s just super smooth and fresh,” a taster said.
If you’re just starting out, Petrossian recommends eating your caviar plain.
“Keep it simple,” he says. “No need for toast or extras. Just let the flavor speak for itself and find out which kind you like best.”
Caviar should be enjoyed almost immediately after purchase, so don’t buy until a day or two before your party. Waiting a couple of days or even a week is OK, but the flavor will start to change after about a month. When serving caviar, it's important to keep the tin on ice-- you don't want the eggs to freeze do don't store it in the freezer, but room temperature caviar isn't as palatable.
And the biggest no-no when it comes to caviar?
That would be eating it with a silver spoon. That fancy mother-of-pearl tasting spoon actually has a purpose.
“Stainless steel or gold are OK,” Petrossian says, “but silver oxidizes the delicate flavor and will totally mess up the taste. Mother-of-pearl makes an elegant presentation, but it also feels nice in the mouth.”
So put down the silver. You paid a lot for that caviar. You should enjoy it at its fullest.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Guardian] By Michael Booth - December 31, 2015 -
(Michael Booth is a British food writer who wrote the book Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know About Cooking, which was adapted into a Japanese television series which began airing in April 2015.)
The man behind the counter moves as slowly as an ancient, majestic Galápagos tortoise. This is Jiro Ono, the greatest sushi chef in the world.
It's the last week of November, and I'm in Tokyo to be a judge at the final of the Global Sushi Challenge, a new competition to find the world's best sushi chef, and have stopped by Jiro Sushi for lunch to get a benchmark. Jiro-san, who turned 90 last month, is a national treasure in Japan and is now famous worldwide, thanks to the 2013 documentary Jiro: Dreams of Sushi.
He is not competing; he has nothing to prove. He has made sushi all his life and stands behind the six-seat counter of his unassuming basement restaurant for dinner five days a week (plus lunch on Saturdays), moulding the nigiri perhaps a little more slowly these days, but still with steady precision.
It is unfair to compare a three-Michelin star, US$250 meal with sushi made in the heat of competition, and I realise this is irritating given how difficult and costly it is to get a reservation, but this is the best sushi I have ever eaten: the rice, still warm and prepared so that the grains hold together just long enough to reach your mouth, is bracingly vinegared but balances perfectly with the umami-rich, aged raw fish and fresh shellfish.
After the meal, I ask him how he celebrated his birthday. He came to work as usual, he says with a shrug. This is what he does, this is his life. "The life of the shokunin [a Japanese artisan] is like a sportsman," nods his son, Yoshikazu.
Everyone knows the Japanese take sushi very seriously indeed, and with that in mind they have created an organisation to promote good sushi-making around the world. The Tokyo-based World Sushi Skills Institute (WSSI) is funded by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to tackle such horrors as mushy supermarket sushi, "Asian" restaurants that serve Thai, Chinese and Japanese food from the same kitchen and, in particular, poor hygiene leading to the kind of food poisoning outbreaks that recently prompted the New York Hygiene department to insist sushi chefs wear plastic gloves ("Can't make sushi with gloves!" one of the city's leading sushi chefs barked when I asked him about this).
My first insight into the WSSI's global quality-control strategy came when I was a judge at the British round of the competition, held at London's Nobu restaurant in September.
Hirotoshi Ogawa, a short, straight-backed Japanese man wearing a white lab coat and brandishing a clipboard, is the WSSI's chief examiner. He tells me to keep a special eye on whether contestants regularly rinse their hands in the bowl of vinegared water provided, essential for killing bacteria.
Nine professional sushi chefs (seven male, two female) are competing in London to reach the final in November in Tokyo. Some are from prominent London restaurants - Saka No Hana and Sushi Samba - oligarch canteens, essentially. Some are from less prominent spots, such as Sam Butler from the House of the Rising Sun in Shrewsbury, in the English West Midlands.
They face three challenges: the first is to make a plate of classic Edomae sushi in 10 minutes. This is the style that evolved in Tokyo in the 19th century, based on seafood caught in the city's bay and nearby, and which, loosely speaking, is the nigiri/maki sushi we know best in the West. Only the members of the WSSI are deemed knowledgeable enough to judge this round. The second round, "original sushi", requires the contestants to make 20 pieces in their own style in one hour; for the final round, they have to present a single piece of their signature nigiri for the judges to taste.
The 10-minute challenge begins: contestants must make seven nigiri and one maki roll. "In Japan, the chefs are perhaps not so creative, but they are much faster. There, we only give them two minutes," Ogawa confides.
The round has a frantic feel. At one point, I try to lighten the mood by chatting to one of the contestants, Poppy Sherwood from Wabi in Horsham, south of London."No talking to the contestants during the 10-minute round!" scolds Ogawa. All but one contestant fails this round.
We move on to the second round. This goes better. There is a wide range of nationalities competing, including Polish, Brazilian, and one man of Chinese background, who was born in Rome.
Diana Pinto Basto de Carvalho, chef at Gordon Ramsay's Maze Grill Park Walk in London, produces sushi that is delicate and attractive, but she uses cream cheese and mango-chilli sauce, and I mark her down accordingly. Wojciech Popow from Yashin Sushi has assembled an alarming array of ingredients including chocolate, smoked salmon and Hibiki whisky jelly for his signature piece. Tai Po Wong, from London's Sushi Samba, pulls out all the stops with foie gras and caviar, but his plate is a little too busy for the Japanese judges.Some people, they come to Japan for a three-week course and think they are a sushi chefHirotoshi Ogawa, chief examiner
In this round, we are encouraged to talk to the contestants as they work, as interaction with diners over the traditional sushi counter is an important aspect of the job, which the judges are keen to stress is complex and difficult.
"Some people, they come to Japan for a three-week course and think they are a sushi chef," chief examiner Ogawa says to me, shaking his head.
He has impeccable credentials for the job. After seven years training in Tokyo, the first five of which were mostly spent carrying out menial tasks, Ogawa worked for some years in Sydney, serving sushi to the likes of Nicole Kidman and Keaunu Reeves, and then ran his own restaurant in Tokyo.
The work of the World Sushi Skills Institute is not without controversy, he admits. In Japan, there is anxiety among some chefs about disseminating the secrets of great sushi to the outside world. Outside Japan, there has been resentment at what many see as their finger-wagging approach. "They are very strict about what they think is the right way to do things," one of the contestants grumbled to me out of earshot of the Japanese judges. Some of the contestants in London have been working as chefs for over eight years, so it can't have been easy being told everything they knew was wrong.
In the end, the judges agree that, against the odds, the whisky-chocolate-smoked-salmon nigiri made by Wojciech Popow is the best single piece in the London round - but he is not going to the final in Tokyo. A shell-shocked Xia Jia Tian from Rome, currently working at restaurant Kouzu, close to London's Victoria railway station, is the winner.I felt so much pressure, being the Japanese entrant. I really understand for the first time the creative possibilities with sushi.Jun Jibiki, global challenge winner
Tian and I meet again in the last week of November, in the vast function room of a posh hotel in Tokyo. This time, I am judging alongside Yoshihiro Narisawa (multi-award-winning chef at his eponymous Tokyo restaurant ), and Ryu Hwan Tan of Michelin-starred Ryunique, in Seoul, plus the WSSI chefs. There are 14 finalists - all male. and there are TV crews from Japan, Turkey, Korea, France and elsewhere.
I shadow Narisawa and Ryu, and back in the judges' room we are in agreement: the US and Norway were excellent, and I can see Tian has been practising hard, but Dae-Won Han from Korea just pips the Japanese chef. However, Han cut his finger at one point, incurring a penalty that drops him to seventh. Narisawa politely protests, but for a sushi chef to cut his finger in front of diners is unthinkable. The decision is upheld.
The winner is, perhaps inevitably, Japanese: 45-year-old Jun Jibiki of Tokyo's Koma Sushi. "I felt so much pressure, being the Japanese entrant," Jibiki tells me afterwards. "I really understand for the first time the creative possibilities with sushi."
On stage at the award ceremony, Ogawa-san takes the microphone, and the exhausted contestants, still in their chefs' whites, line up behind him in front a 200-strong crowd.
After a few words, much to everyone's astonishment, this tireless taskmaster breaks down and begins to cry. Months of tension are released as he thanks the contestants and praises their efforts, tears streaming down his face.
As urbanization, population growth and the rampant destruction of the natural world increase, human beings have become more and more isolated from nature -- and at a significant cost.
Spending time in nature is good for both the body and the mind, leading to health benefits including reduced depressive symptoms and lower blood pressure. As it turns out, the benefits of exposure to nature don't stop with individuals -- they also extend to entire communities and societies.
A study recently published in the journal BioScience finds that contact with nature is associated with stronger communities and lower crime rates.
For the study, the researchers measured the relationships between individual and community assessments of exposure to nature, community cohesion and crime rates. They asked a group of 2,000 participants from various communities to report on their access to nature, the amount of time spent in nature, and how much nature they can see from their homes. These responses were then pooled to come up with a measure of the community's exposure to nature.
The results were striking: Contact with nature appeared to have a significant effect on promoting community ties and reducing violence.
Controlling for other factors such as socioeconomic deprivation, population density and unemployment, exposure to nature accounted for a full 8 percent of variance in community cohesion -- meaning that people felt closer to their communities. To put that in perspective, individual factors such as age, income and gender together accounted for only 3 percent of the variation.
Exposure to nature was also linked with reduced crime. The analysis revealed that the amount of accessible green spaces or farmlands in a community accounted for 4 percent of variability in crime rates, making exposure to nature nearly as large of a factor in crime as socioeconomic deprivation, which accounts for 5 percent of crime rate variability.
What explains these dramatic effects? "It might be that green space encourages people to band together and support their communities in ways that discourages local crime," Dr. Netta Weinstein, a psychologist at Cardiff University and one of the study's authors, told The Huffington Post in an email.
Alternatively, it could have something to do with the psychological benefits of exposure to nature, which include lower stress levels, reduced depression and anxiety, and even putting the brain into a state of meditation. If individuals enjoy improved physical and psychological health as a result of spending time in nature, they may be more likely to feel connected to their community and less likely to engage in crime.
With increasing urbanization and environmental destruction related to climate change, more people are becoming alienated from the natural world. Although further research is needed to confirm the findings, they do suggest that improving access to nature -- for instance, through urban planning initiatives to create more green spaces in cities -- could reduce crime rates.
"It’s important for people to have natural spaces available to them," Weinstein said. "In future research, we will need to examine the extent to which biodiverse and wilderness areas, those that hold a greater diversity of species and are more vulnerable to climate change, contribute additional variance to these outcomes."