Once again, we’re in the throes of late spring, and with it, comes shad season. Yes, we know we’ve already done an article on shad in the past, but come on – it’s our state fish and there’s just so much to say, we couldn’t possibly cover it all in one shot. This article will focus on local shad related events and activities that any true-blooded Connecticuter (yeah, we wish that wasn’t the official name for a CT resident too) will love.
In case you don’t happen to be familiar with shad, it is a freshwater fish that is plentiful in the Connecticut River. Its scientific name is Alosa Sopidissima, with the 2nd part of the name being the Latin word for “very tasty”. It has a rich flavor and a texture that has often described as being buttery and on the oily side. Like many of the fish we’ve talked about, it’s rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, so it’s both delicious and healthy at the same time. As if this were not enough, George Washington, the father of our great country was known to have a special fondness for shad, going on record as having declared it to be his favorite fish. That’s right – eating shad isn’t only delicious and healthy, it’s patriotic too!
If you’re going to be in the local area this month, we highly suggest that you make it out to the Essex Rotary Club’s 55th Annual Shad Bake. It will be held on Saturday, May 18th at the Essex Elementary School and will begin at 4:30pm. If you want to get a shad dinner that is truly prepared in the old-fashioned New England way, then this event is for you. At the Shad Bake, the shad are cooked by way of the planking method. This is a way of flame-broiling the shad by flattening it out and affixing it to wood planks with a set of steel bars. The fish is then topped with seasoning (usually just a light coating of butter and a pinch of spices) and then the plank is turned to the flame and through this, the shad is heated up. The result is a classic taste you can’t get from anything else and an experience that is quintessentially Connecticut.
If you happen to have a friend or family member who isn’t into fish, worry not. Fresh, delicious BBQ chicken will also be provided, along with “Uncle Al’s famous hot dogs”. If you’re asking yourself “what are Uncle Al’s famous hot dogs?” then you REALLY need to go to this event – it’s the only place that you’ll find them and the taste is truly unforgettable. Also on the menu will be potato salad, green salad, Lyman’s Orchard apple pies, freshly brewed coffee, soda, and bottled water. For an extra fee, shucked clams and oysters will also be available. Ticket prices are non refundable and prices are $25 for adults, $12 for kids (between 12 and 18 years of age) and free for all kids under 18. Tickets are available for purchase at http://www.essexrotaryevents.com/. You can also get ticketing information by calling (860) 490-8262 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to all the great food, there will also be live music, an antique car show, and playground equipment to keep the kids busy and entertained. This is an event that will be held rain-or-shine, and the Rotary Club has prepared the event for both. There will be ample outside seating in the sun, but there is also covered seating outside and indoor seating as well.
Once you’re done enjoying the taste of your shad (or maybe before, either way works) you can familiarize yourself with the rich and storied history of the shad fishing industry at the Connecticut Shad Museum in Haddam. Located at 212 Saybrook Road (Route 154) in Haddam, this local gem is the only museum dedicated to shad on Earth. To help you recognize it, we’ve provided a picture below, courtesy of www.ct.gov. If you’d like to stop by and make a visit, you can get information on hours of operation by calling the museum at (860) 267-0388 or sending an e-mail at email@example.com.
If you can’t make it out to the Shad Bake or if you just want some more shad after it’s over, we have you covered. We carry CT shad at our Old Saybrook seafood market while it is in season. Supplies are limited though, so stop by or call in your order while our shad supplies last.