A great oyster from Eld Inlet. Oysters in Eld grow fast, fat, and creamy-sweet, and Chelsea Gems are no exception. Unlike most Eld oysters, however, Chelsea Gems are not beach-cultured. Instead, they spend their lives in rack and bag, which maintains their black and tan coloration. You’d think this would produce brittle shells—especially since Eld Inlet is known for that—but the racks are staked low on the beach, where the oysters get beat up in every tide, and even exposed four or five times each month, which makes them strengthen their shells just enough. They come to market at the extraordinarily tender age of five months, by which time they are petite three-inchers with very deep cups, due to all the natural tumbling. Inside is a little fella with all the sweetness and low salinity of other South Sound oysters but none of the low-tide flavors common to the beach-cultured varieties.