Winter has reached the mountain town in which I live. The air is crisp, the sky is bright blue, and the hills have turned green once again. The wonderful scent of burning wood from fireplaces is everywhere. I live in Three Rivers, California, the last town before the entrance to the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. It is here that the three forks from the Kaweah River merge and travel east ten miles only to be dammed in Lemon Cove, forming Lake Kaweah.
Here in Three Rivers, there are only three main roads: Sierra Drive (Hwy 198), North Fork Drive and South Fork Drive. The river plays a large role in our lives. Right now the flow is low but as the snow pack builds in the mountains, our future river flow grows. Last year in October, a heavy few days of rain caused the river to swell to its limit for a couple of days. There are many documented floods in the river’s history. Come springtime, the water from the cold and rushing melted snow will draw white water rafters from all over the world. By the end of June, the bulk of the rapids will have passed and it will be safe to swim once again in the calm and warm water, as the temperatures soar to the 100’s. Tourists and locals alike will flock to gaze at the magnificent natural glory of the park. Many will choose to spend a week or so here in Three Rivers.
At the Main Fork Bistro (of which I am Chef and Manager), I have the pleasure of meeting and cooking for many as they pass through. The local fish, which is most commonly used commercially, is the trout. Trout is a mild fish that is quick and easy to cook. I like the ability to serve a whole fish. Most of the fish we buy are a small portion of large fillets and even larger fish. With trout, you get your own little fish all for yourself. Silly? Maybe. But it is a great culinary treat.
Tip: Even if you can’t fish for your own trout, frozen trout is available year-round, and can be bought pan-ready (dressed trout means head-on, cleaned and gutted, ready for cooking). Allow one trout per person.
A Rustic Winter Menu, With a Choice of Trout Recipes