BY: ADAM ELLIS, BLUE MARLIN SEAFOOD
It takes a fishing village to catch the best local seafood. Cortez has two of the oldest working fish houses on the Gulf coast of Florida. This founding community has always had a strong work ethic to bring home the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico.
Blue Marlin Seafood (www.bluemarlinami. com) is committed to serving the freshest
fish and shellfish that the Gulf coast has to offer. We have forged great relationships in the last 10 years with the hardworking people who base their lives around our local waters. The menu at Blue Marlin reflects what is local and in season. The local fishery is highly regulated to ensure sustainability. We feature local fish which include many species. Grouper and snapper are among the most sought-after of the fishes. We also catch flounder, cobia, wahoo, mahi, tripletail, tilefish, pompano, and sometimes tuna and swordfish (along with a handful of lesser-known species). Local shellfish include shrimp, clams, and most famously stone crab, which are exclusive to the Gulf of Mexico. We pride ourselves on having what is local and fresh.
Living in the Cortez Fishing Village for the past 25 years has undoubtedly shaped our menu. Residing in an active fishing community has allowed us the closeness to the sea to be inspired by what comes across the dock. I am able to load my truck with fish from A.P. Bell or Cortez Bait & Seafood, drive across the bridge and unload on Bridge Street daily.
Local fishing legends have influenced menu items, preparations, and techniques. Grouper Fulford, our take on a classic, was named after the “one and only” Blue Fulford, who was also known for his net-hanging skills. Fulford-cast nets caught much of the mullet after gill nets were banned in Florida. Two Docks Shellfish provides the clams and oysters on many of the menu items at Blue Marlin. The Welch family uses sustainable fishing techniques to ensure the local clams they harvest continue to thrive.
In the 1960s, my father-in-law, Mike Norman, moved to Florida after graduating college. Before opening his real estate firm on Anna Maria Island (www.mikenormanrealty.com), he fished under Capt. Bubba Capo aboard a
commercial fishing vessel, called the West Wind, based out of Cortez. Mike’s love of the water kept him here. Today at almost 80, Mike smokes fresh-caught mullet each
week for our Smoked Fish dish. Using native wood such as buttonwood soaked in salt water adds to the unique flavors of this local favorite. Mike Norman and his wife Inez purchased the historic cottage which now houses Blue Marlin Seafood in the 1980s. Our son, Marlin Michael, is Blue Marlin’s namesake. Marlin, now 22 and a recent college graduate, works at Bradenton Beach Marina, literally steps from Blue Marlin on Bridge Street.
Captain Mike Greig, my brother-in-law, has been a local Anna Maria Island fishing guide and commercial fisherman for over 30 years (www.fishannamaria.com). I have
had the privilege to work alongside him and learn techniques that have been handed down over the years. For the past 25 years, between Oct. 15th and April 15th, I have had the opportunity to be part of his stone crab operation. The stone crab at Blue Marlin were likely on Capt. Mike’s boat just hours before being served. Capt. Mike’s dock parties were the inspiration behind Blue Marlin’s beginnings… Nothing beats an ice cold beer, eating the freshest catch with friends and family while listening to fishing stories! Now, our patrons get a taste of this life at Blue Marlin Seafood.