Sea Rocket Bistro author Hank Shaw

Author Hank Shaw meets diners at Sea Rocket Bistro in San Diego.

One of the many things I love about food blogging is the chance to meet interesting people and try new things. I had the opportunity to do both, in spades, on August 18, when local eatery Sea Rocket Bistro presented a book signing and special meal in honor of Hank Shaw. Win a signed copy of this book, instructions are below.

I knew that the menu was adventurous after reading the menu (Sea urchin gelato? Holy crap!), but my blogging pals Susan Russo and Stacy Spensley were going, so I manned up and made my reservation. It was a lovely night and inspiring to see Chef Brad White push himself creatively (out of his own own comfort zone). I can’t do justice to his story about preparing the sea cucumber, suffice it to say that I don’t think it will be appearing on his menu ever again! First, the meal. The stunning photos are courtesy of Holly Heyser and are used with her permission.

Sea Rocket Bistro spot prawns

Coctel de Caracol with periwinkle top shell, spot prawns, Portugal hot chiles and preserved lemon.

This little guy was still alive, which was too much for me. Another diner was happy to take him off my plate, so that I could enjoy the rest of the (cooked) seafood.

Sea Rocket Spider Crab

Spider Crab Terrina with cumin-grained mustard, Terra Bella grapefruit tarragon, salad and espelette.

My favorite course. The spider crab meat was tender and delicious, and I loved the mustard.

Sea Rocket Sardines

Sardines a la Veracruz with tomato confit, local olive tapenade, sea beans and basil.

I was wanting less protein and more veggies at this point, and one sardine would have been plenty. But I can recommend them and understand why they’re a favorite on the menu.

Sea Rocket Black Cod

Black Cod en Jamon with sea cucumber, Lompoc lima beans, blistered Tarbell figs

This was the course that gave Chef Chad such a problem, as the sea cucumber was a slimy mess that he kept trying to make work. He ended up making a mousse with it, and wrapping a small dollop in crispy cod skin. It worked pretty well, although I wouldn’t have it again. Loved the grilled figs.

Sea urchin gelato

Sea Urchin Gelato with candied ginger and Crows Pass orange-lavender honey. Amazing!

The biggest surprise of the night. My favorite! Creamy vanilla gelato with sea urchin adding a surprising but lovely briny taste. We loved the honey/salt/lavender combo and suggested that they serve it in a little bowl on the side, so you could sprinkle a bit on each bite. Delicious!

On to the book that inspired this menu. Think of Hunt, Gather, Cook as a cookbook-meets memoir-meets survivalist guide (without the crazy). Hank tells great stories and uses words deftly, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on foraging. I confess that I skimmed the chapters on hunting and fishing, as I’m mostly vegan these days. It’s a manly book, and would make an excellent Christmas gift. I purchased a copy to give away and had Hank sign it for you.

Giveaway rules:
Leave a comment here to enter.

To earn up to three additional entries, do any of the following:

  1. Tweet this (or a version of it), then leave another comment saying you tweeted it: I just entered to win a copy of Hunt, Gather, Cook by @Hank_Shaw, hosted by @reciperenovator. You can too!
  2. Follow my Facebook page, then leave a comment here stating you did so.
  3. Follow Hank on Twitter @Hank_Shaw, then leave a comment here stating you did so.

The giveaway ends Friday, October 21st at midnight Pacific time. You must have a U.S. shipping address to enter, and leave your email address when you comment. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator. You must reply to my email within 48 hours or I’ll choose another winner. Thanks for playing!