June 9 – June 12

At a time when many of us worry about what sort of fish we should be eating, one Californian reader kindly sent me the exemplary menu from a special seafood dinner held at Oliveto restaurant in Oakland.

It’s a fine example of a restaurant taking great care.”

-Nicholas Lander, Financial Times of London, Aug. 2009

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Oliveto’s Chef Paul Canales and fish purveyor Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish Company, in their yearly collaboration for our now widely-known oceanic event, have described June’s menu thus: it will be less sprawling than in previous years and more focused, a “curated” (as Paul says) event where each fish or sea creature will be chosen for some extraordinary characteristic or quality. Some thoughts they tossed around: “We’ll balance rustic and refined. Some dishes will be more composed, developed, conceptual, fussy, or edgy. Some more traditional. There will be great fish you don’t want to mess with-you keep that simple.” Tom will undertake a “culinary study”of one fish, using different cooking methods and accompaniments. Diners will catch subtle reflections of Paul’s 2009 trip to Japan; Tom’s recent sojourn in Spain likewise will inform some of the dishes.

Here are bits of the discussion that illuminate why we don’t know at this point what will be on the menu. “We get these great black cod from Josh Churchman, who fishes out of Bolinas. He goes six miles out, fishes hook and line 1,500 feet down. Last week he came back in one day with 1,000 pounds of cod. Yesterday he was out there and came back with 100.” “Local halibut is on a run, and there is no better raw fish.” “Rex sole is a great, under-appreciated local fish, and is delicious now.” “Water temperature is low, and local fish are less active.”

What we do know about the menu is that only the best of sustainably caught fish will be served, prepared thoughtfully by creative, passionate, skilled cooks with, in the main, an Italian sensibility.

Much of the à la carte menu will be available online a few days before the event’s start.

Two special wines on the list for Oceanic Dinners:

Alvarinho, Soalheiro, Vinho Verde, Portugal 2009-Unlike any Vinho Verde I’ve tasted before…significantly reduced yields resulted in amazing richness and density. Aromatic floral and nectarine notes interlace with intense minerality.

Listan Negra, “Maceración Carbónica,” Los Bermejos, Lanzarote-Canary Islands, Spain 2008-Made from the indigenous grape, Listan Negra, this has fantastic complexity and a delightful freshness. Pure, bright cherry and strawberry fruit are complimented by an herbal note and a distinctive smoky, ashy tone surely derived from the unique volcanic soils of the island.

-Chris Ryerson, Oliveto Wine Director