|Renderings that greet you|
When you first walk into their new facility, you are greeted with exposed brick and beautiful renditions of old school fish market scenes that evoke feelings of nostalgia for the once-open Fulton Fish Market, which has since been uprooted to a warehouse in the Bronx. The paintings are beautifully done and give visitors the impression that they have just been transported a few hundred miles up the coast to some New Bedford maritime museum, where the history of the seafood industry is about to unfold right around the corner.
Instead, it is the future that greets them in the form of hairnets, boots, gloves, and slickers in a sterile changing room. Before going onto the production floor, we changed into the industrial garb in order to protect the sanitation of the environment. The duds aren't for our protection; they are for the protection of the integrity of the warehouse.
We entered the production floor and were greeted with a myriad of workers cleaning and putting fish away for the day. Morning deliveries, including those headed to Jeff Black restaurants, had just gone out the door. It was nice to see how clean the facility was, top to bottom. Passing from room to room there was a sanitizing spray coming from the doorway entrances so that you couldn't track in any unwanted hitchhikers.
Each area of seafood is separated from the other. There is a large state-of-the-art lobster tank filtering hundreds of gallons of "sea water" daily, though most of its inhabitants' stays last less than 48 hours. There is a room just for tuna, where whole fish are broken down and graded to customers specifications. There are walls of crabmeat, a shellfish room full with bi-valves of all kinds. In the fin-fish room boxes sit quietly, concealing their delicious contents. Upon opening, one is greeted with glistening, pristine fish gleaming as if at this facility it is Christmas.
|The Ice House, there's two of them|
We ended our tour with trips to the offices, where both buyers and sellers are closely situated to one another so that information is easily passed between departments. There is an adequate kitchen set up for testing products, exotic and familiar alike, and an area where chefs and customers can be hosted and well fed.
We thank the great people at Congressional for hosting us and opening the doors to their beautiful facility for us to get an idea of the hard work that goes into getting our properly chilled and immaculate fish to us. We are proud to buy seafood from companies like Congressional, who are on the cutting edge of providing seafood in a traceable, safe and sustainable way.
|Fresh scallops, Ocean City, MD|
|Grading tunas; part aesthetics, part science, all expertise|