Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fish-O-Gram! Duck Luck! Chef Sweepstakes! Pink Letter Week!! Fresh Island Meats! Sunchokes! New Email & Fish Doldrums...... Halibut Countdown!!

If you have missed your scheduled, Friday, Sat, Sunday Fish-O-Gram, you are correct.  It is tardy.  Your dedicated Fish-O-Gram writer has been otherwise occupied, with the eye strain to prove it, hunched over over a tote full of geoducks trying to induce them to spawn.  No dice thus far, the males are willing, but the females just aren't performing.  But if it means anything, I have missed you terribly.  

I'd rather be writing a Fish-O-Gram

Also, this week, we have transferred from Outlook to Gmail.  We hated Outlook, and now we are learning to hate Gmail.  A week of free fish to the customer who turns us on to an e-mail system that functions and does what we want it to, and finds us an accounting program that doesn't turn evil and try to control us from the computer monitor.  Your e-mails are still coming in, and we remain attentive.  Please bear with us through the transition. Please note all of the old addresses still work, but to reach Ivan directly email "ivan@jffarms.com" and to email Paisley directly write to "sales@jffarms.com". Nick & Sara's email remains the same as does Logistics & Office.

Family Time
For those of you who have never spanked off a duck, the process involves alternately exposing the ducks to water temperatures of 10 and 16 degrees centigrade, bombarding them with food, oscillating PH between 7.8 and 8.9, leaving them dry for extended periods to concentrate their minds and spending endless hours with a flashlight, trying to detect the first curls of sperm or eggs ejaculating from their siphons.  At a certain point of desperation we pick out a particularly un-co-operative duck, slice it open and mash up the gonads to swirl in the water with the other ducks, pour encourager les autres.  When they begin to spew, we hustle the lucky, lusty duck to a private bucket to work things out, then mingle sperm and eggs at a specific ratio in another bucket.  Once the cells begin to divide, we put eggs in a 1500 liter tank to complete the process.  In four hours the resultant larvae is swimming, in 24 hours it has a shell.

If this sounds awful, it is, but also quite miraculous.  In season, which begins now, we are spawning something, ducks, oyster or clams, at least once every two weeks.  We encourage any and all of you to schedule a farm visit around spawning time.  Together, we will create life.

Family Fun.

Pink Peril.
Pink Scallops are now a reality.  This past Saturday Eric Donnelly served the first public scallops in almost 20 years at the POP event.  Go Eric! Go Scallops!  Our dream is becoming a reality!!!!!!!!!  This week we have a very limited quantity of live pink scallops for sale.  Next week will be more abundant.  Hooray for the divers, Hooray for legislators Kristine Lytton, Doug Erickson, Brian Blake, hooray for you, lucky pioneer chefs!  Countless hours of slogging through mindless bureaucracy, redeemed!  Call Paisley!  Order restrictions will apply.
Pink Scallops, Limited Supply

Department of Radial thinking.  
The Pink fishery is a great triumph, but it bears pointing out the degree to which our food system is controlled by unaccountable, out-of-touch bureaucracy.  In our opinion, government control bears a great deal of blame for the sorry state of the American food system.  It is part of our mission at JFF to expose the iron fist beneath the neoprene glove and work to free food for the people.  The ongoing food revolution demands no less.  Today Pink Scallops, next stop legal cultivation/sale of seaweed in Washington State. One clam, one vote.

I'd rather be spanking off Dux.  

Seafood and Bespoke Fresh Meats--Confrontation Therapy.  
This week we have whole/half hogs, lamb and fresh Lopez beef cut to your specifications.  It is our ongoing contention that meat deserves the same consideration that seafood receives--namely, appreciation of subtle distinctions of location, season, breed and flavor.  For those of you who demand source-specified shellfish, proudly sing the river origin of your salmon, require that bottomfish be hook-and-line caught--all rightly so--why are meats exempt from this equation?  We aim to supply you with meats to match our seafood, grown by ourselves or other equivalent producers.  Yes, big label, greenwashed meats are cheaper.  But so is mushy, drag caught black cod from Pacific Seafoods.  Would you serve that?  Would your customers support it?  If so, please alert us, and we will take you off the Fish-O-Gram list.  Think about it.

But I'm the low price supplier.....I'm a broadliner....

JFF is here to help.  Weekly supplies of Island Lamb, Pork and beef from our farm or the Mainland Cattle Company.  Move away from the darkness. Embrace the Grass. Call Paisley! Call Sara!

Garden Corner.
The Jones Boys have decided to work towards a family trip to Madagascar, partially to see a Mouse Lemur in person and partially in hopes of seeing an Omuras Whale, a species of tropical waters Baleen whale, discovered only 10 years ago.  The tropical Baleen thing is significant because warmer waters tend to be lacking in krill and other baleen-worthy prey.  Omuras Whales are either uniquely efficient or know something marine biologists do not.  
To finance this trip they have set to make the Jones Ranch kitchen garden a commercial Venture.  Being protein oriented, we have long held that Shrubbery is Garnish, but in the interest of good parenting and the prospect of a Madagascar Vacation, we now embrace produce.  All proceeds go to the Jones Boys Madagascar Fund.
First harvest is over-wintered Sunchokes.  We have very abundant supplies.  $4.00#  Please call.

Help us live the dream.  
Fish Update.
Fresh Fish remains....fairly static.  The Quinalt river has blown out with all this rain, so Steelhead is touch-and-go right now and our Rhode Island friends are hard-pressed with nasty weather.  Local bottomfish is fairly available, crab pricing remains as it has been, but on the whole not much is happening, except for Pink Scallops.  But what an exception!  Later in the week we will have Black Seabass and Dirty Squid.  The fresh RI  Ling is also something special.  Eastern Ling is kind of like a midget cod.  Very delicious.  Lemon Sole is also wonderful and priced right.  Fresh from the bay, guaranteed unspanked, Jamestown tidelands geoducks are also available, Call Paisley 24/7.  After midnight, if she doesn't pick up, just keep calling!

Halibut Looms
We are now on the Four-week countdown to the opening of the halibut season.  We will be delivering the first halibut of the season to Seattle Sunday the 20th, weather permitting, and again, daily throughout the week.  Again, San Juans Halibut has a flavor and flesh quality not found in fish from other areas, including the Washington Coast.  Our unique combination of big, fast water and warm, shallow bays yield fish that are tender, rich and flavorful.  Last year, while gutting Halibut, the most common food we found in Halibut bellies was Spot Prawns.  With a diet like that, it's a no-brainer why Islands halibut are the best in the world, bar none.  Place your orders now! Don't flounder around, ring in the Halibut New Year with the flatfish highpoint of the year.  If you would like to offer your customers just a little bit more, trained JFF staff is available for Halibut-centric events, we have props, costumes and more.  Call Paisley to schedule your Halibut Hootenanny.

We can do balloon animals too

We are, belatedly, your devoted JFF Crew.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fish-O-Gram! Mission Revision!! Pink Progress! Jones Boys Scallop Shwag!! Nordic Culinary Innovations! Fishes on a Steady Roll!

Firstly, thanks to one and all for a tremendous Valentines week.  We hope that you turned all the JFF product into happy customers and bulging registers.  For us early February feels like a great milestone--days are lengthening, fish abundance an variety is growing, algae is beginning to boom in our lagoon, and consequently oysters beginning to grow, livestock is beginning to reproduce, the garden is starting to come out of dormancy and sales are picking up with the turn of season.  This year we are also marking a number of changes in our staff and internal organization.  So the dawning of the year of the Monkey is a real thing at Jones Ranch, and we aim to mark it in style.

Ancient History
JFF is now 14 years old, sprung out of the union of Nick, seafood and fish oriented, chaos--loving west Coaster and Sara, farm, livestock and organizationally--minded offshoot of Cuba, New York and the Empire State Dairy industry.  Over the years we have been many things and grown into many roles, lumber brokers, commercial fisher-folk, cattle farmers, hog farmers, shellfish growers, tendermen, fish brokers, caterers, parents, parents, again and again, geoduck seed producers, delivery drivers, plumbers, fence builders, serial committee members, sawyers, and more.  And over this time we have grown to include a rolling assortment of helpers at all levels of the business.  For 12 unbroken years we parlayed our lurching, universalist--protein creed into sway over a major chunk of the productive resources of our home island, a good slice of San Juan County locavore business, and a sliver of the booming Seattle restaurant market.  Every year was better and more expansive than the one before and every year we added more and different activities, pursuits and staff.  The sequence seemed logical at the time--when shellfish seed became scarce, we started a hatchery.  When we found that we could not rely on other providers to cut meat, we bought Link Lab as a Seattle meat cutting beachhead.


Jones Farm before the fire.

2 Years Marks the Spot
Two years ago our long and winding winning streak took a serious detour.  On April 24, 2014, our home, office and packing shed burnt to the ground, caused by an electric short in antiquated wiring.  Following that, our geoduck seed crop, typically our largest source of annual income, failed.  We moved back into a drafty, moldy house on the property and began an ongoing, pitched battle with our insurance company and started rebuilding.  Our business structure and employee group were largely left on autopilot, and JFF, as an entity, began to drift.

18 Months in the Wilderness
Drift leads inevitably to atrophy and, in our case, years of rapid growth had created a shaky foundation that required constant inputs from us personally and required continual revenue growth.  Following the initial shocks, and aftershocks and aftershocks beyond, various of our activities began to implode, most notably the shellfish hatchery--a highly risky venture at the best of times.  Sales and distribution continued, but on a flat trajectory while we spent our time on various forms of crisis management.  What had come fairly naturally and easily now needed to be rebuilt and re-imagined with our blood, sweat and tears, with marrow from our bones. We sincerely thank all our customers, suppliers, employees and investors who stuck with us through this time.

Clawbacks are hell

If At First You Don't Succeed........
So, over the course of a few short months we found ourselves knocked flat and thrashing.  In order to rebuild we knew that we needed to double down on the reasons we started down this path in the first place, namely focusing on products only we can produce.    Beginning late summer 2015 things began to turn.  First was successful hatchery production of a gigantic crop of European Flat Oyster seed.  European Flats are perhaps the most storied oyster in the world--from Emperor Nero to MFK Fisher gourmands have sought out the flats.  Due to a chain of adverse regulatory decisions, we are and will remain the only producers of European Flats on the West Coast.  In November WDFW finally agreed, after 6 years of pushing, to allow a dive fishery on Pink Scallops.  In December we began bringing premium Rhode Island fishes to Seattle.

Building Momentum
A major Seattle sales push and a very lucky sales manager find in Paisley Madison, coupled with the explosive growth of the restaurant industry, has pushed us farther and deeper into that world than ever before.  Now, for the first time in almost two years, we are able to see far enough out of the weeds to begin steering ourselves again.  It seems an opportune moment to remind ourselves and you, of what, exactly, it is that we aim to achieve.   So we dusted off our whiteboard, poured a few rounds of whiskey, and cloistered the JFF executive committee to come up with a revised mission statement.  Here goes:

JFF Mission Statement
Our mission is to produce, source and distribute the finest quality specialty proteins in the world and share them with customers who share our passion.  

We are blessed to live in a corner of the world that naturally produces superlative product.  We focus on systems and partnerships to maximize these natural endowments.  We especially focus on product that others can not or do not produce.  Outside of our production scope, we partner with like-minded producers to bring in the best, most sustainable, most unique seafoods from elsewhere.  

Our customers are our partners and our friends.  We select our customers as carefully as we select our partners and suppliers.  We are blessed to work with an group of extraordinary customers.  We salute your dedication, creativity and passion.  
We are fully invested in our customers' success and will do anything in our power to accommodate, promote and partner with you.
Our business will grow organically as we grow our community of like-minded customers and suppliers.  We will not compromise our sourcing or standards in order to pursue growth.  

Our business is our life.  If it ain't fun, we don't do it.  If we can't do it special, we don't do it.  If folks aren't fun to work with, we leave them alone.  We aim to remain small enough to pick and choose our projects, products, employees and customers.  

JFF and You
So there you have it.  We cannot promise to be perfect, we cannot iron out all the supply kinks inherent in fresh proteins.  We can, however, promise to work with you, grow with you and continually labor to bring you the best list of source-specified, specialty fishes, seafood and meats in the business.   Looking forward, we have endless projects brewing, from ironing out the last kinks in the Pink Scallop harvest, local Halibut coming in 5 short weeks, to a re-release of European Flats coming in two months or so, to more specialty oysters ahead, to actualizing a steady supply of fresh, west-side origin meats, to expanding into specialty greenery, to future sales/distribution collaborations with Owen Roe Winery, Westcott Bay Ciderworks and San Juan Island Distillery.  We love this business and we love you!

The Monkey Speaks His Mind
To celebrate the now arrived Year of the Monkey, to celebrate the upcoming election year, and to celebrate our re-focused state, we direct you to the link below, one of our favorite musicians, Dave Bartholomew, performing an original composition.
The Monkey Speaks his Mind, from 1957
Pink Progress!!!

We saw the first real motion on Pink Scallops last week.  Superstar Dive Master Joe Stephens took advantage of the break in the weather and found the first substantial populations of pinks in the area we have been given.  A small handful are currently testing the scallop holding tank system at Jones Ranch.  And the scallops are, in fact, everything we remembered them being.  Further, WADOH is showing signs of being more flexible on certifying new areas.  We are not yet to the Promised Land, but we are making steady progress.  Look for more in the week ahead!  Meanwhile, enjoy the following images and the video of swimming, or singing, scallops.  Very winning.

20 years late but worth the wait.

Scallops and Bone China 

Merchandising Dept.
Once the scallops are eaten, the issue becomes what to do with the shells.  In an earlier, less enlightened era, the answer would have been ashtrays.  With a little clever embroidery they could surely serve as shower curtain, privacy screen or cape ornaments.  Roach clips, tree ornaments, angels and air freshener holders are other popular choices.
Some people have too much time on their hands.

The Jones Boys have come up with a solution that doesn't involve hot glue guns or costly metal hardware.  Moreover, it allows us, and you, to wear on our sleeves, our excitement for the return of the pinks!! Let everyone know you THINK PINK!!!!
Scallop Pinks!!

Scallop shwag available at deepwaterdawgz.com.

Chefs Corner
We have watched and applauded the Nordic Culinary revolution for years.  After all, a cuisine based on seafood, seasonal herbage and lean, gamy meats is perfectly suited to our northern biome.  Nick's (Russian origin) extended family spent decades in Finland and Sweden after the Russian revolution.  Too, we have worked and consorted for years with Nordic Peoples in and around the seafood industry.  Nordics are a highly effective race, and we salute them.  
So it was with some interest that we read of a seafood industry-relevant archaeological find in Northern Sweden.
A well defined fish fermentation site was found in the  9,200 year-old settlement of Blekinge, Sweden.  In this pre-trade route, pre-ceramics era, fish was fermented with pine bark and seal fat, then wrapped in uncured seal and wild boar hides and buried in pits.  Be the first to feature true, Ur-Nordic fermented fish!!  We have about 20,000# of frozen chum we would let go cheap for experimentation, as well as a steady supply of uncured pig skins.  

Fishes Ahead, Fishes Behind. Meats Too.

Fish abundance and variety is building with the season.  Our Rhode Island friends are enjoying the first lengthy weather break for quite some time.  We expect a full range of Eastern fishes this coming week, and reasonable pricing.  Local fishes are decently available for this week, including Rock, Dover, Petrale, Truecod, Cali-Hali and Alaska Troll Kings.  Beef Pork and Lamb.  Available as wholes, halves and in cuts.

Your Loyal JFF Crew

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fish-O-Gram! Sushi Superbowl! Valentines Looms! Happy Opening, Noroeste! Deepwater Struggles! Farm Meats on Parade! Yellowtail Amberjack!

Dear Statistics-Minded Customers,

Over the years much has been written about the "Superbowl Effect" on everything from the Stock-Market, to the San Francisco homeless population.  Today, we would like to draw your attention to a lesser known, but deeply troubling phenomenon and suggest some strategies for the future. 

No fish, no shrimp, even natural meats are underrepresented.

Super Sunday is not Seafood Sunday
The Superbowl marks the second largest food consumption day of the year.  Unlike other food-centric holidays, however, the love does not spread to your friends in the seafood business.  On the homefront, one might expect this to be different.  The Seahawks are named for the Thunderbird, a giant raptor, whale eating bird in tribal lore stretching from Alaska.  Thunderbirds, or Seahawks, do not eat snack foods, they eat marine mammals and, in a pinch, humans.  Some fringe ethnographers have suggested that Thunderbird traditions stem from deep historical encounters with a remaindered population of Pterosaurs, or latter day flying dinosaurs based on remarkably similar native legends hemisphere wide and cliff paintings depicting giant air-borne lizards.  Others suggest that Thunderbirds still roam isolated pockets of North America.  In any event, Thunderbirds are definitely sea-to-table and nose-to-tail diners.  
The magic of the Internet.  Completely authentic photo of Thunderbird brought to ground.

Thunderbird, or Seahawk, dietary preferences notwithstanding, the past two years, hometown pride in the Seahawks put a major crimp in seafood sales.  This year, with no local dog in the fight, fish sales were up 60%.  How about that?

A Practical Suggestion;
Whale meat is out, and whole animal preparation is probably too much to ask on such a busy day.  Finger food being the thing, JFF hereby proposes a Sushi Superbowl movement for next year.  In 51 short weeks look for sushi-fish special offers and other Superbowl themed specialty proteins.   Let's make next year a Sushi, Seahawk, Superbowl Sunday. 

Think about it

Forward to Valentines Day!!
Fortunately, joy inevitably follows sorrow.  Valentines day is an extremely fishy holiday, and we have your number!  Call Paisley! Call Ivan!
Green urchin quota remains but they are beginning to spawn.  Diver Chris says we may seem some improvement towards March, but for the time being Urchins are off the docket.  
Highlights for the week will be a full range of Rhode Island fishes and fresh Yellowtail Amberjack.  Yellowtail is the wild form of Hamachi--Japanese fish farmers capture millions of Yellowtail fry annually and raise them in pens.  This yields the soft buttery flesh we all know and love.  Yellowtail Amberjack represents the ones who got away.  Expect a leaner, more toothsome and flavorful animal.  We love Amberjack!  Small volumes of fresh Oregon dragger-caught blackcod are beginning to trickle in, but delivery of these is always subject to quality control.  Plus we still have a handful of spot prawns and always, always, frozen giant Octo. 

Noroeste Opening!
This evening we will be attending opening ceremonies at Noroeste Seattle.  We are giddy with excitement--Noroeste combines one of our favorite restaurateurs with one of the most passionate chefs we have ever worked with.  These past months Shannon been hounding us for unique and wonderful proteins and been holed up in the back of Quality Athletics, putting the polish on what promises to be a groundbreaking take on traditional taqueria recipes.  Shannon's purchasing choices, creativity and attention to detail make it clear that Noroeste is going to be something truly special in a city of superlative restaurants.  

Go Shannon! Go Rachel! Go Josh!

Deep water blues--all pinked-up and nowhere to go
Between weather, boat problems and trying to find concentrations of scallops, pink scallops are getting off to a slow start.   It has been 20 years since divers seriously pursued these fluttering little culinary treasures and the re-learning curve has been steep.  At the depths scallops lurk, divers get very short times on bottom, so prospecting is time consuming and challenging.  Also, the prime scallop areas are not currently open for harvest.  So, stay tuned.  This has been slower than we would have liked, but just like the Tree Lobster, JFF never gives up! 

It hasn't been easy.  

Department of Culinary Collaborations.
One of the biggest Challenges for small farmers and local-minded chefs is maintaining a steady supply of fresh, local meats.  Between the vagaries of animal growth rates, supply line constraints and the ever-swirling nightmare that is the USDA, consistent fresh local meats are the rarest of things on the culinary stage.  During our time in the business we have seen most farmers give up on restaurant sales of fresh meat, and the best-willed chefs give up in desperation and go with "green washed" meat labels.   
JFF, in consultation with Link Lab, has been working for years to stage ourselves to get serious about supplying fresh meats from our and other allied farms to restaurants.  We are now ready and rolling.  Please contact Paisley or Sara for ordering and availability information.   We have, in a seamless flow from the Hoof to the Hook, Pastured Lopez Pork, Luscious Lopez Lamb and fine Sedro Wooley Cattle from the Mainland Cattle Company, all available in wholes, halves and cuts.  Remember, we are working with small numbers of critters, 40# per week of hanger steaks is not going to happen.

21st Century Management Corner
The master butchers at Link Lab are now offering whole animal butchery classes for teambuilding and skills building.  Bring your own carcass or use one of ours!  Classes may be scheduled for evenings, weekends or off days.  Call Paisley to schedule your Team Time at Link Lab.  

Shared experiences make us stronger.

Sincerely, your JFF Team!
Call or e-mail today!
Paisley, (425) 577-2329, sales@jffarms.com, Ivan, (360)298-2781 orders@jffarms.com.