November 14, 2010

November 13 & 14, 2010





A wide community of people came together to tell the story of a little fish, the Delta Smelt, that tells the story of a bigger fish, the Shinook Salmon, that tells the story of the largest estuary on the America’s west coast, that tells the story of water in California.

The list includes art curators, food preservationists, marine biologists, hydrogeographers, sound artists, ceramists, servers, conservation biologists, dishwashers, antiques collectors, educators, architects, diners, cooks, musicians, fishermen, art directors, journalists,

maitre d’s, a former superintendent for the National Park Service,

bakers, passer by, bartenders

sailors, video artists,  warehouse workers, set designers, water activists, volunteers, foragers, textile designers, sound engineers, microbiologists, spirits distillers, performance artists, painters and an editor-in-chief.

Special thanks to Amanda Eicher, Rosie Branson Gill and Valerie Imus for curating The Tank. You can find a list of all the participants in their


OPENwater on SFMOMA’s photostream




The Hydrological Cycle
The first day was an exploration of the Bay-Delta watershed hydrological cycle, the afternoon started with a class/presentation on water and its cycle, followed by events centered on preservation and salt, the harvest of which necessitates sea water evaporation, a major source of rain precipitation in California. The dinner followed the winter storm pattern, taking us from the ocean, across the Central Valley, to the Sierras and back through the river and delta system.


Army corps of engineers-Bay Model Visitor Center


Cured, Curated, Preserved
From pickles to paintings, what is the relationship between preservation and cultural change? In this round table discussion, experts in the fields of culinary history, art conservation, and marine health discussed the value of preservation. Within the ecology of each of these fields, we examined how and why we protect against some change in order to encourage other transformations.


Dena Beard, MATRIX Curatorial Assistant, Berkeley Art Museum~Christopher Richard, Associate Curator of Aquatic Biology, Oakland Museum of California~Jennifer Frazier, Cell Biologist and Project Director, Exploratorium~Peter Vorster, Hydrogeographer, The Bay Institute


Briny consommé of Pacific seafood and seaweed

Risotto of rice from the Central Valley with duck raised on the rice fields and Sierra wild mushrooms

Warm Buckwheat crepes with pears from the Delta


Water Footprint

Centered on grassfed beef the lunch pointed to the water footprint of food, highlighting the relationship between water and what it takes to grow our food by sourcing most produce from a single local watershed: the Lower Sacramento watershed. Produce from Agricola: flora and fauna, Soul Food Farm and Eatwell Farm.

USGS Cataloging Unit: 18020109


Herb and endive salad with Soul Food Farm egg

Braised grass-fed beef crepinette with Tartine bakery bun, onion rings and dried farmed tomato ketchup

Almond tart

During the afternoon there will be a boat gathering organized by David Wilson in the Seaplane Lagoon just a short walk from St George Spirits

San Francisco Delta Chinook Salmon Run

The second afternoon focused on the plight of the SF Bay Chinook salmon. The dinner was a Chinook salmon dinner without any salmon, pointing to the dramatic transformation of the Bay-Delta watershed and the issues around the collapse of the local salmon population. It mapped the Chinook salmon run form the Golden Gate to the foothill spawning grounds by sourcing produce from farms distributed throughout the SF delta watershed, showing how agriculture and the Chinook share the same territory and resources. It was preceded by a roundtable discussing the Chinook’s habitat and migration showing how it competes with the urban and agricultural water demands.

Oncorhynchus Tshawytscha

How water flows in California and the plight of the Bay/Delta Chinook salmon


Ed Ueber, Former ocean superintendent for the national park service~Tom Worthington, Partner, Monterey Fish~Lloyd G. Carter, Journalist~Marc Alley, Fisherman~Cynthia Hooper, Artist~Jon Rosenfield, President, SalmonAID Foundation


Grilled sardines with Nasturtium pods, Meyer lemon and pickled cucumbers

Cioppino, the traditional San Francisco fish stew, with local fish and shellfish

Sierra persimmon pudding


Video by Chris Sollars



Resource room, library, lounge – detour into TheTank and encounter artists, experts, activists, educators in residency in this restaurant lounge designed for conversation and exploration. Permanent resident Jacques Cousteau will be joined by a rotation of visiting guides to include artists, curators, water experts, panelists from both evenings’ discussions, and fisherman telling tall tales of the sea.


Artworks/Installations by Denise King, Travis McFlynn, David Wilson, Lauren Marsden, Sita Bhaumik, Jennifer Kimbell, Jessica Niello, Autochlor, Concrete Works, Hyphae Design Laboratory

Video works by Chris Sollars, Kim Anno, Ricardo Rivera, Cynthia Hooper, Martin Machado, Christina McPhee, Stijn Schiffeleers, Michael Swaine, Kelli Yon

Sound works by James Goode, Jen Boyd, Mark Dolomont, Becky White

Food by Cal Peternell/Chez Panisse, Chris Lee/Eccolo, Chris Kronner/Bar Tartine plus PEKO PEKO, HOG ISLAND, MAGNOLIA BREWERY, BEAUNES IMPORT, FOUR BARRELS and ST GEORGE SPIRIT

Menu design by Sasha Wizansky, printed with Lance Winters, in his letterpress shop at St George Spirits

The Chinook salmon, two jars of pickles and the way the water flows

After spending several years in the open ocean, the Chinook or King salmon comes back to the waters near the Golden Gate where it feeds on sardines, anchovies, herring and krill, preparing for its run up the Bay/Delta watershed where it will spawn and die in the small creeks of the Sierra foothills. For its survival, it must share its territory with what is now one of the biggest agricultural land in the world, the Central Valley of California and share its water with most of central and southern California through a vast and complex system of dams, reservoirs, canals and pumping stations. At the heart of this system is the Sacramento Delta. By engineering new and artificial rivers, large quantities of water which used to flow through the Golden Gate are now diverted as far as southern California for both agricultural use (around 85%) and urban consumption. This huge transformation of the landscape has had a drastic effect on the ecosystem of the salmon, aiding in the collapse of the salmon population. For the last 4 years all commercial fishing has been prohibited in an attempt at restoring stocks.

On Sunday we decided to make a salmon dinner without any salmon. The first course will map a small part of the California water system. The central ingredient is sardines caught off the coast of central California, a salmon’s favorite food; to serve with it we have prepared two different kinds of pickles. For the first jar, we foraged wild nasturtium pods (1) from Lands Ends on the south side of the Golden Gate and wild fennel (1) on the north side marking the start of the salmon run. We used these to flavor pickling cucumbers (2) grown at Lucero Organic Farm which uses water from the Mokelumne river, one of the salmon’s traditional spawning grounds. The Mokelumne river, like many other rivers, has been dammed to control flooding and for storage, diminishing the salmon’s territory. To remedy this the Department of Fish and Game has built the Mokelumne River Hatchery (3). One of the dams, the Pardee dam creates the Pardee Reservoir (4), the principal source of water for the East Bay Municipal Utility district (6) bringing water to Berkeley via the Mokelumne Aqueduct (5). In the second jar we preserved meyer lemons harvested in the Berkeley hills to make a salsa. We will also serve anchovies, another salmon food, caught by Marc Alley, a local fisherman who has not fished for salmon for the last 4 years and is now getting his boat ready for crab season, starting on November 15.

The Mokelumne river water system


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: