Ninety Nine still all in on Gloucester Fresh

The city seems to have gotten its money's worth out of the massive Seafood Expo North America last week, despite cutting its presence short by a day because of last Tuesday's nor'easter.

Its VIP, monkfish-centric tasting luncheon last Monday was heavily attended and widely lauded. The city also got some pretty positive press from some influential seafood media sources, such as the long story on the influential Undercurrentnews website on Gloucester's ocean-to-table campaign.

The story, however, contained a rather ambiguous reference to the city's agreement with the Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub chain to serve local, freshly landed Gloucester haddock on the menus of its 106 locations.

The piece mentioned how the original supplier in the deal — the dear departed Gloucester Seafood Processing up in the Blackburn Industrial Park — walked away when its parent, The Mazzetta Company, shuttered the facility.

But the piece failed to mention that the successor to GSP as the primary source of the Cape Ann haddock is another Gloucester seafood processor.

Gloucester's Finest Seafood, which operates out of the Cape Ann Seafood Exchange on Harbor Loop, stepped in to fill the void. Folks at the Ninety Nine wanted to make it clear they remain committed to the agreement.

"Chef George (Tagarelis) and I have been in our restaurants all week long with general managers and kitchen managers training on our brand-new spring menu which begins April 2 and features 'Gloucester Fresh' simply seasoned fresh haddock," Charlie Noyes, president of the Ninety Nine chain and a Gloucester resident, said Thursday in an emailed statement. "I'm sure our guests at the Ninety-Nine will be as excited as we are that we continue to serve this local favorite."

March Madness

So, how's your March Madness bracket faring? Starting to smell like last Friday's fish? Join the queue.

Here at FishOn, we're huge college HoopHeads, at least from the beginning of the NCAA tournament right until the bitter end. Then we go back to treating Div. 1 men's college basketball like the incessant and scandal-ridden cesspool it's become.

But now we have an alternative: Check out the March Mammal Madness bracket (bit.ly/2FbS6jP) devised by anthropologist Katie Hind of Arizona State University.

The bracket pits mammals — including marine mammals — against one another in tournament format, almost as if the mascots are playing the games instead of, you know, people.

So, for instance, in the Urban Jungle regional, you've got a Cape Town baboon going up against a common hedgehog (no contest, baboon all the way) and a Moscow dog versus a sewer rat in a reprise of just about every day in Moscow. Boy, we hope they're showing these on the Nature Channel.

The highest concentration of marine mammals appears in the When the Kat's Away regional, with the horseshoe crab pitted against a secretary bird, the cookiecutter shark playing a common octopus and the alligator snapping turtle facing the mantis shrimp.

In the Great Adaptions regional, the star-nosed mole, who really digs in on defense, might be the second  No. 16 seed in history -- hello sweet Virginia --  to topple a No. 1 seed if the blind little burrower takes out the pygmy hippo, who is almost impossible to move out of the paint.

The Antecessors regional features 16 extinct creatures. Now that's old school ballin'.

We analyzed the matchups, read the scouting reports, took a nap, had a snack and now feel comfortable with our pick to win it all: Say hello to the 2018 March Madness Mammal champeen — the alligator snapping turtle. Go Terps.

Headed to the hoosegow

More than a year ago, we ran an item about Justin P. Stahmer, a 39-year-old man from Newport News, Virginia, who was accused of making false (and drunken) distress calls to the Coast Guard. As you might imagine, the Coasties frown upon those.

Do they ever.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Stahmer was sentenced to almost five years in federal prison — four years, eight months — for the crimes that included a June 2016 false call that a man had gone overboard. That prompted a full, futile and expensive search of the area by the Coast Guard.

Stahmer was arrested on a charge of boating under the influence and he upgraded to full felony when he kicked and threatened a Coast Guard officer, saying he would "take him out" if they ever met again.

Seafood as revenge

This story comes out of Connecticut and offers one more reason never to venture to the Nutmeg State. As if we needed one.

Rachael Marinaccio, 29, of Trumbull, Connecticut, was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, a felony, for strategically hiding seafood parts in the home and vehicle of an ex-boyfriend in one of the smelliest goodbyes ever concocted.

Police said the ex-boyfriend woke up one morning to a five-page breakup letter, which made him a tad uneasy because Marinaccio once told him she stashed sardines in another ex-boyfriend's vehicle air conditioning system for revenge.

Later, the man found a lobster tail glued to the wall behind his refrigerator. A later police search of his home found more lobster tails hidden about the house, as well as one under the rear carpet of his truck.

They met online. We're totally shocked.

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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