Among the blessings we can count during this summer of record-breaking heat is that, so far, our coastal waters remain untouched by the oil that spilled for months into the Gulf of Mexico. That means, we can count on a steady supply of fresh, summer seafood. And in the Triangle, we can buy from local providers who bring it from the NC coast to our plates. Our shores boast an offering of everything from in-shore seasonal fish like Spanish mackerel, migratory grouper that swims in, flounder from our marshlands and a variety of shrimp, crab and shellfish. Here's how to find them:
Southport Seafood Company (Triangle-wide, southportseafoodcompany.blogspot.com)— Fisherman Jason Stegall is the man behind the boat at Southport Seafood, supplying restaurants with freshly caught seafood daily.
"If people wanna continue to get good seafood, they're gonna have to know their sources," says Stegall. "Your local store may not know where anything came from. We're not just making phone calls. We're catching fish."
You can find Southport's product at Bickett Market (219 Bickett Blvd., 291-3286, www.bickettmarket.com), a new fresh grocery in the Five Points neighborhood of Raleigh that's a joint venture between Stegall and business partner Jonathan Botta. Drop in for a varied selection, or place an order by 5 p.m. and pick up your fresh catch off the boat the very next morning. Southport also sells directly to consumers at the following farmers markets: Western Wake (Cary), Midtown and Five Points (both Raleigh) and South Estes (Chapel Hill).
Tom Robinson's Seafood (207 S. Roberson St., Carrboro, 942-1221) — The late Tom Robinson served as Carrboro's iconic fishmonger long before he died this year. Out of a tiny, rectangular cement building, Robinson supplied the community with fresh seafood and charming, opinionated banter for over four decades. The small shop with his name remains as a staple in the neighborhood, open Thursday through Sunday.
Earp's Seafood (1414 S. Saunders St., Raleigh, 833-3158) — This family-run shop has been selling daily catches from our coast for over 42 years, with a focus on fresh shrimp. Open Tuesday through Saturday.
Capital Seafood Market (1304 University Dr., Durham, 402-0777) — With most deliveries from N.C., this family-owned fish market is also a great place for fresh downtown grub. Mark Overbay of Slow Food Triangle swears by the "terrific" fried flounder with collards.
Walking Fish (Durham, www.walking-fish.org) — The Triangle's first community supported fishery, Walking Fish is now taking applications for Fall 2010 shares. Based out of Durham, members can opt for weekly or bi-weekly pickups.
Core Sound Seafood (Chapel Hill/Carrboro, www.coresoundseafood.org) — This community supported fishery focuses on providing a sustainable livelihood for veteran fishermen of Carteret County on N.C. southeastern shores. A dollar for every pound of seafood sold through Core Sound is donated directly to the struggling fishing families down east.
Find more local seafood providers at www.nc-seafood.org. If you have any other suggestions, let us know in the comments.