Eating on the river poses a myriad of challenges and when you add the intense fishing of June, it only becomes more difficult. You’re on the river well past the witching hour and you can’t exactly just fire up the grill in between spinners and hatchers (although I would love to see what happens when the glow of fire meets a river of Hex).
My friend and fellow chef John takes the riverside meal to new levels on a regular basis. I’ve seen lamb chops, venison burritos, quail under glass… He brings little more than a clean grill or a Coleman camp burner, a small cast-iron pan and makes the rest of us look like savages.
A guide I know swears by cold fried chicken. Most of us take sandwiches. Some of us skip the food and take too much beer. I prefer to land somewhere in the middle. You can’t count on bugs or fish, but with a little foresight you can make sure to get the most out of the day. Being hungry, cold and drunk in the middle of nowhere really sucks even if the fishing was great.
If, like a lot of the fishing this time of year, it is a boat ride followed by waiting for bugs, take it a little more seriously and bring something to grill. A thermos with something hot in it is a day saver, especially for drakes when it’s often below 50 when the fishing is done.
A plate of quality charcuterie is probably my favorite thing in the world and it’s the perfect, no-refrigerator-needed fishing meal. If you try to put this meal together by buying meat and cheese from a place that also sells gas and mouth tobacco, you’re doing it wrong. The juxtaposition of an angler decked out in $2,000 worth of gear sitting in an $8,000 boat eating something that costs less than a dollar and used to be marketed by Randy “Macho Man” Savage is too much to bear. It’s time to upgrade to the Abel reel of cylindrical meats.
Starting this weekend, we will offer a charcuterie plate designed to be enjoyed riverside or elsewhere. I got the good stuff: Surryano Ham (made from free-range heritage breed pork from Surry county Virginia), some really nice salumi from Spain and San Francisco, a variety of high quality domestic cheeses, none of which are yellow in color made by people that care about their animals as much as their product.
It’s Drake time-Snap to it!