Where to buy good seafood in Calgary
I wonder if you good folks could pass on recommendations for shops selling good seafood in Calgary? Having moved from the UK, I am pretty confident I have nailed great places in town for pretty much all other types of groceries but need a guiding hand to find good, fresh fish in these distinctly un-maritime like surroundings?
I find asian grocers are usually good with the fresh fish, because mostly the fish are pretty much still wriggling when they sell 'em to you. T&T supermarket in the NE (800-999 36th St. N.E. (Pacific Place) ) has one of the better seafood depts. in town. They also sell sushi-grade fish by the bakery (?!) but haven't mustered the courage to try it yet.
If you're downtown-ish, you can also stop in to Boyd's Lobster shop on 14th st SW (at 15th st.)
Billingsgate is kinda the granddaddy of fish wholesale in the area. they recently closed their east village location and moved up in the NW. I haven't been to the new location yet, but they've got a good reputation. http://www.billingsgate.com
There's also a fishmonger at both of the farmer's markets in town at Crossroads and Curry Barracks, but the one at Curry Barracks seems a bit fresher to me.
I go to T&T quite a lot - but I have never bought a fish that is still alive in a fish tank. Any idea what the process is with these critters - are they fish born & bred in captivity. Where do they grow up?
I have bad memories of an Oriental Supermarket back in the UK, which kept its live seafood in filthy tanks - this has put me off buying fish like this.
Am I right to have any concerns?
you know, i've never put that much thought into it... the tanks always look clean to me so i don't worry about it. But yeah, the live fish are most likely farm-raised (tilapia is probably from bc. not the finest fish, i'll agree. but pretty tasty nonetheless fried whole chinese-style with a hot and sour sauce). I suspect the shellfish are probably farm-raised as well (except the crab and lobster? really, i don't know). here's an interesting article i came across on ontario aquaculture http://www.ontarioaquaculture.com/gro...
The Curry Barracks farmer's market had two fishmongers last time I was there but they both seemed to specialize in East coast product - mussels, lobster etc. I have purchased these items from both of them and it was all good. We are trying to eat "locally and seasonally" now so I won't be doing that too often.
Boyd's always has a nice selection of west coat product, wild salmon, prawns, clams. Always go for the wild! I have never tried the North Sea Market at Willowpark, way too far away, but I do see their truck delivering to a bunch of restaurants on 17th Avenue SW where I live. I think that is a good sign!
If you're looking for good wild salmon from BC or Alberta/NWT whitefish, I've found that surprisingly Superstore and Costco are quite good. There's a high turnover at most of these places so nothing sits around long, but at the same time they don't always have all the fish in stock. Costco also has seafood weekends once in a while and they carry very nice bags of mussels and other (frozen) seafood. Not to get to soapboxy but stay away from farmed salmon if you can, it is not reared in the most environmental method in Canada and the flavor is lacking compared to wild.
Shellfish (clams/crabs/lobsters) by far T&T is one of the best bet. They have a super high turnover so everything gets replenished quickly, thus fresh. Not a huge fan of their fish though but I haven't really tried it since I catch a lot of my own fish around Calgary (as local and fresh as you can get!).
For more exotic fish, the fishmonger in CFM looks pretty good but pricey. Having lived in the UK for many years, there's nothing really comparable to some of the great fishmongers or even Waitrose, in the UK.