Daily Archives: August 9, 2008

Maligning bluefish

Today’s WSJ (link above) contains a story of bluefishing off Nantucket and the author quotes several local chefs who never eat, serve or think about these feisty creatures. Not fair. First, they fight much harder and much longer than striped bass, so they’re more fun to catch. Second, they’re usually easier to catch and when you’re casting into a bluefish feeding frenzy on the surface of the sea, you’ll experience more excitement in 15 minutes than you will in a week of striper fishing.

It’s true, as the author claims, that bluefish do have very sharp teeth that can leave lifetime scars. Ask my boyhood friend Teddy Sumner or have my daughter Kat show you her scar from a snapper (a baby bluefish!) earned years ago. The answer, I have found, is to crush the barbs on your lure’s hooks with a pair of pliers so you can achieve an easy release without going near those teeth. You’ll lose a few fish but when the blues are biting, you’ll never notice the difference and when you boat the creature a flip of the wrist and he’s free again. No one needs 15 dead, stiff bluefish stacked like cordwood in the hot sun in the stern of his boat. One does nicely, so let the rest go.

And how do you treat that unlucky one? Easy, if you have any facility with a fillet knife. Place the fish on a board (if you can find a chest-high fish cleaning station at your marina, you’re in luck). Cut right behind the head down to the spine, then slide the knife blade along the spine to the tail. One fillet. Set aside, flip fish, repeat. But you’re not done! Slap a fillet skin-side down and carefully insert your blade between the skin and the meat. Slide backwards towards the tail again, making sure to keep the blade pressed against the board underneath, while gripping the skin with your left hand (assuming the knife’s in your right). Now you have a nice, skinless fillet that’s almost ready to cook.

But there’s a final trick, taught to me years ago by Riverside resident Buzz Harris. Again picking up your fillet knife, carefully remove all of the reddish flesh you find on what was the skin side, leaving only opaque whitish flesh. The red stuff gives bluefish the strong oily flavoring that only a mackerel lover could enjoy.

Cook it any number of ways. I prefer to grill it over coals with not much of anything except perhaps a bit of lemon. Baking it with tomatoes and onions works, but hides the taste, I think. If you’ve been diligent about trimming, you shouldn’t need to mask the taste.

One other note: you don’t need to fish from a boat. They’re nice to have because you can scoot around, searching for feeding frenzies (and if you do find one, cut your engine way before you reach it and glide into casting range. Otherwise, you’ll put the fish down) but surf casting for these puppies is a blast. Try Tod’s (I’m usually unsuccessful there) or the end of Steamboat Road (crowded) but best, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket or really anywhere with a decent surf. If you catch nothing,you’ll still have enjoyed a meditative spell on the water’s edge, casting rhythmically, admiring the birds and the clouds and perhaps even a deep thought or two. It’s my church.


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One person shows at Al Franken campaign meet

I sympathise with his plight, if not his politics. Reminds me of some of my book signings.

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Race to the bottom – newspapers vs. condos

After purchasing Greenwich Time and the Stamford Advocate recently, Hearst turned its attention to the Connecticut Post, parent publisher of our local Greenwich Citizen, among other weeklies. Hearst paid $155 million – the seller paid $205 million for the same package of papers twenty-eight years ago in 1980 (click link above). Hearst probably still over-paid.

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Condos in Central Greenwich

A reader has asked about those condo’s on the corner of Milbank and East Elm and about central Greenwich condominium prices in general. It’s an odd mixture. The two condos on Milbank are not selling – they either sold privately and I missed it or they’ve been rented. They were originally priced as though they were part of Lily’s Path across the street, which has almost sold out at astonishing ($5,000,000+) prices. But these two are much smaller and, although nicely built, lack a few rooms, have just one car garages and generally never seemed to attract buyers. Similarly, a cluster of condos on Idar Court, which is off of Field Point Road, south of Town Hall, seemed to miss the mark when it came to location and buyers balked at walking down (and up) hill to the Avenue. The builder/developer couln’t move them at $4,000,000 and had the good sense and great fortune to unload them on an out-of-town buyer. That -“sucker” may be a bit harsh a term so – “guy” just sold one last week in the low $2’s. I think that was a good price, for the new buyer.

Returning to Milbank and heading north, there are another couple of brand new units sitting unloved and unwanted at $5.9 million. I have no idea what they’ll eventually sell for, but it appears that the developer is going to be disappointed – these have been on the market for over a year.

Other condo projects on the street range from $3.9 million down to the low $2’s. I once rented a decrepit old Victorian (now a condominium, alas) on the street with two roommates and for a trio of young men just out of college, it was a terriffic location. We could walk to the Avenue for entertainment, two of our future wives (one each for two of us, not two wives for one) lived down the street, and if I hadn’t packed up and headed for law school I might be there still. But much as I like the street, I think the condo developers got ahead of themselves in pricing their projects. I personally wouldn’t pay $6,000,000 to live in a Greenwich town house and this seems to be a sentiment shared by a lot of potential buyers. It’s mean to advise you to wait for the foreclosure sales but I do think that there’s some room, now or in the future, for a bit of price negotiation.


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Comments from a Retired Investment Banker

Here’s the first of the comments from a reader I mentioned the other day. A broad discussion of the topic of house prices can be found in the comments appended to “Whither the Market”, below.

….”As to whither or wither, I hate to repeat myself, but no question the answer is wither!

What you must keep reminding yourself is that this cycle’s unravelling is not like any thing remotely experienced in our generation. To expect the market to retain outside gains as the market corrects is unrealistic in the extreme.

Easy financing caused the gains and contracting financing will bring on the declines. It’s all about the exploding credit bubble. And even when the credit markets return to stability (in the distant future) the lax lending that caused real estate price levels to elevate are gone forever (at least a generation or two).

The party is just getting started, especially in the NY metro area.”

Retired IB’er

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The New York Times writes about housing

Just in case you don’t read the NY Times, I thought I’d point out two interesting articles that appeared in today’s Business section. One article, on climbing mortgage rates (previously discussed in this blog) is linked via the title above. The other, interviews with various economists on how to calculate a home’s value in today’s market, is here. There’s probably not a whole lot that’s new to financially sophisticated readers (and aren’t all Greenwich property owners financially sophisticated?) but a nice rundown of current wisdom. If you don’t want to spend your time I can summarize: no one knows where mortgage rates are going but if they continue to climb it will cost you more as a buyer and sellers will get less for their house – pay the bank, pay the seller, but not both – and economists are all over the place when it comes to valuing houses. There – now you know.

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