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By TIR STaff - Dr. Suess might have been serious about getting kids to love reading when he penned his famous children’s book, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” but serious about fish? That takes a man like Patrick Collins, owner of the Key West Shrimp Co., a new fresh seafood market on St. Pete Beach.
“I really want to get through what our mission is,” he said on a sunny Friday. “We really want to help people understand the benefits of eating fish … like how healthy it is.”
He is so committed to educating people, he shares reports with his Facebook followers (5,994 likes at press time) about seafood. The latest is from Harvard’s School of Public Health.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding about eating fish, and the amount you should be eating,” he says. “It’s the best thing you can put in your body, and what I really want to impress on people is that the best thing they can do is eat fish as close to the source as possible, and prepare it as minimally as possible.”
The Stewart Fla. native grew up fishing on “the other coast.” “I’m in love with the Gulf of Mexico; the ocean over here is so different from the ocean over there,” he says, admitting the fishing is better on the other side, “But I like it over here; it's more relaxed, a little slower.
He suggests it’s a travesty not to eat local. “I go to a grocery store and I’ll see farm raised products that come from Chile or another country. It’s an inland fish raised far away from the ocean, and it's the worst thing you can eat because the fish are not fed well,” he says going on to paint an unsavory picture of the water they live in.
“We live right here, one block from one of the most beautiful fisheries in the United States and I want to bring that to everybody.”
He treks “all the way” to Madeira Beach to meet the boats as they come in. Not lacking humor, he asks laughing, “Do you ever get that far north? It was snowing there this morning.”
In addition to fresh fish like grouper, snapper, mahi, hogfish and kingfish, he offers a variety of shrimp; the red shrimp are caught in 1,000 feet of water and he likens their flavor to lobster. He pulls out scallops he gets from New Bedford Mass.; he can barely fit four of the larger than silver-dollar sized mollusks on the palm of his gloved hand.
Back to the education theme, he talks about a cooking class on sushi taught by his chef Desmond who recently moved from Ohau, Hawaii. “I gave away bamboo rollers to everyone that came to the class so they have what they need to make it at home.”
He is all about wine education as well and says he will open any bottle, anytime for someone to try.
“I lived in Seattle for seven years and I was in the wine business; that was my entire life for a while, so I am bringing all of that information to bear with fish.
To make his point, he selects a bottle of wine from the counter noting what he carries is generally not available in grocery stores. “This particular Pinot Grigio is medium body and more to the heavy side; something that you want to pair with a fattier fish like cobia or mahi.”
Under the wine in a second refrigerator display case, patrons can feast their eyes on homemade key lime pies, fish spread, crab cakes and a variety of other homemade items to enhance the dining experience.
The company’s motto, “eat more fish” is proudly displayed above fish bones on the shirts they sell at the store.
“We all live here, and we should be eating from the Gulf, not from some other country, and not farm-raised products. We have the best fish; people come from all over the world for our grouper and here we can walk out and catch it whenever we feel like it.”
If catching it is not on your agenda, visit the Key West Shrimp Co. Facebook page to see what they have hauled in. Patrons may also sign up for email alerts. The market is at 7217 Gulf Blvd. Suite 13 in St. Pete Beach.