"Wild" Salmon at Comme Ca? Not really...
I dined at Comme Ca last night and on their menu they had a "Wild Salmon" dish. Out of curiosity I asked the waitress where the wild salmon was from, Copper River, Columbia River, etc... She said something like "Well, its raised in Scotland in ocean pens, so its kinda like of a wild-farmed salmon cause its in the ocean like a wild salmon..." Uhhh, isnt that how all farmed salmon is raised? In an aquafarm in the ocean? Am I wrong or are they being very deceptive in advertising this as wild salmon when it is actually a farmed salmon? I mean with wild salmon at $30-$40 per pound at the market there should be some clarity!
This is an out-and-out fraud. I would never eat at an establishment that lied about their food! What other reprehensible practices are they up to?
Welcome to the cheated consumers club ( CCC? )!
Haven't you seen Pata Negra ham prominently listed in Capo's menu for ages, when imports were not allowed?
What about "Alba truffles" in most high brow places, when the stuff is not from Alba, most of the time not even from Italy, and even more frequently is a different species from what it's supposed to be (Tuber Magnatum).
And don't get me started on the restaurants that prominently display the word "Organic" in their menus, and then in small print "... whenever available".
Most Sushi bars serve "wasabi" ... guess what? Fake.
And on and on. I heard somebody said "Kobe beef? "
There's an article in the July 2008 SAVEUR magazine (pg 84) on the topic of Ocean Pen-Raised Salmon. There are environmental issues cited as well as flavor, disease, etc. Conclusion from this article: maybe it's OK to call it "wild" and maybe it isn't.
Isn't "sort-of wild" a bit like being "sort-of-pregnant"? It either is or it isn't. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
How did it taste?
I ask because it sounds to me like you were served Loch Duart salmon, which is unquestionably the best farmed salmon on the marketplace. Loch Duart is committed to farming salmon sustainability in a way that produces superior flavor and texture. Though their salmon is not at the level of the Alaskan salmon I've had, it still far outshines any other farmed salmon. When people make disparaging remarks about farmed salmon, they are not describing Loch Duart.
That said, it is most definitely not wild salmon, not by any definition.
My guess is that Comme Ca is a bit flumoxed by what to do with the Loch Duart fish. Many consumers aren't yet savvy enough to understand that not all fish farms are created equal, and that you can have farmed fish that is healthy, environmentally responsible, and delicious. People simply think farmed=bad and wild=good, and they aren't willing to pay the hefty price tag associated with the Loch Duart product. Yet Comme Ca wants to emphasize that this is a superior product, and the only mark of excellence that consumers will recognize is the term "wild."
Though Comme Ca certainly handled this poorly, I think it's worth recognizing that this is a really difficult situation. People want salmon; they don't want farmed salmon, regardless of the farming practices; and they aren't willing to pay $50/plate for Alaskan wild salmon. A more responsible restaurant would label the salmon "Loch Duart" and explain what that means to consumers. That said, not everyone wants to be lectured on the merits of sustainable aquaculture when they're sitting down to dinner.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out this year. As Loch Duart becomes more popular, and the wild salmon populations become overfished, more and more consumers are going to have to accept sustainably farmed salmon as a good substitute.
re: Morton the Mousse
If the only sustainable and environmentally sensitive farmed salmon is farmed in Scotland, it is still an issue for those who care about it from a green standpoint. As for whether Pacific salmon are overfished, maybe, maybe not, but global warming or other unknown issues could be having the same effect. It appears to me that the verdict is still out; but Seafood Watch does say that declines in population are apparently due to both habitat issues and overfishing:
As for Comme Ca, if they are using sustainably farmed salmon, they should say so out right, name the source, and use this as an educational opportunity. It is still farmed, and to say it is wild is misleading at best.
I doubt if OP ordered it. I wouldn't of done so, even if I had realized from the server's rather inept description that it was Loch Duart. Actually, I wouldn't have ordered it even then, given that Sea Food Watch says verdict is still out even on 'sustainable' salmon farms such as Loch Duart (see link above) I hope OP writes to the restaurant management to tell them they are doing themselves and the cause of sustainable fisheries no favors at all by trying to mislead customers about their salmon, rather than taking advantage of an educational opportunity that salmon can (maybe?) be sustainably farmed.