Notebook

Check back here for new oyster tastings and reviews of oyster bars and festivals.

The Concorde of Oyster Knives

May 12th, 2015

Okay, I’ve never seen an oyster knife like this one:

Concorde

What the hell is that? Dutch-designed, German-made surgical steel is what it is. The food stylist Adrienne Anderson says it reminds her of the Concorde, and she’s right. It took off in Europe, and it just landed in America. Indestructible, sublimely sharp, beyond stylish, and you get great torque with that bottom flange, or, as US distributor (and noted epicure) John Martin Taylor calls it, the “ventral fin.” So maybe it’s more shark than Concorde. Either way, you need one.

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Pine Island oysters from Oyster Bay

May 12th, 2015

If there’s one oyster that should be at the top of every farm-to-table locavore in New York City, it’s Pine Islands, which have been sustainably “ranched” in Long Island’s Oyster Bay since the 1960s by Frank M Flower & Sons. The hatchery is right there, the nursery is right there, the bottomland is right there, and they are harvested using boats that have been in operation since the 1930s:

Flowers boats

They should be celebrated in every New York saloon, and eaten after every Yankees victory. Yet amazingly, Pine Islands don’t have much of a presence in the city. Why? I think they have simply been around too long, and are too old school, to be cool. Plus they are produced in quantities big enough to be handled by national distributors, rather than a couple of hipsters with reefer trucks. But come on, these things are literally harvested in Billy Joel’s front yard:

LONG ISLAND OYSTERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That yard just happens to be underwater, part of the 1,800 acres of bottomland Flowers & Sons leases. Harvest is done by vacuum dredge, which feels like a Rube Goldberg contraption:

Pine Island 1

The oysters (and all the muck that comes with them) get shot onto the top of the conveyor belts, then make their way through the system, getting sorted and culled, all while under sail. It’s pretty amazing. Equally amazing is the taste: Oyster Bay (which wasn’t named Oyster Bay by the Dutch settlers because it had a lot of clams in it, if you know what I mean) has an ideal 27 ppt salinity, and its oysters come out briny, savory, firm, and strong-shelled, unlike a few others from the Northeast (you know who you are, Guilty Parties). For all these reasons, it’s worth seeking out Pine Islands, and even lobbying your favorite oyster house to get a clue. If you’ve had Pine Islands, please weigh in at Oysterater.

Flowers & Sons burlap

 

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Peconic Paradise

May 12th, 2015

If you happen to be heading for the North Fork of Long Island this summer, you are in luck, because the best thing to happen to Peconic Bay oyster lovers since the Shelter Island Oyster Company recently put out its shingle on the Greenport waterfront: Little Creek Oysters.

Little Creek Oyster Co

Owners Ian Wile and Rosalie Rung have been farming Little Creek Oysters in Peconic Bay for a few years; now they’ve taken over the old Bait & Tackle shop (and former wheelhouse on a whaling ship back in the 1880s) and turned it into a showcase for the burgeoning Peconic Bay oyster scene. On a recent visit, I sampled Peconic Golds, Peconic Pearls, Montauk Pearls, Shinnecocks, Lucky 13s, Lazy Mermaids, and Oysterponds, along with several stellar North Fork white wines.

 

Karen Rivara of Peconic Pearls shows off the bounty.

Karen Rivara of Peconic Pearls shows off the bounty.

The space is gorgeous, but even more gorgeous is the situation outside: Ian & Rosalie will hand you your oysters in the shell, along with a knife and something to imbibe, and let you shuck your own on the picnic tables while the waterfront passes by. It’s what everybody wants, and what’s been basically impossible to find on the east coast. (They will also shuck your oysters for you if you prefer.) The oysters coming out of Peconic Bay have taken great strides, and they are all impressively different from each other, from the deep-cupped Peconic Golds to the pearly white Lucky 13s (from Great South Bay, not Peconic Bay), but the quality level is consistently high. Now through June, they are nice and plump. There are now many places on the east end to get a taste of the Peconic, but none as casually elegant as Little Creek.

If you’ve had a chance to taste any of these oysters, please let us know what you thought at Oysterater.com.

And don’t forget what Oscar the Oyster says:

Oscar the Oyster

 

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OysteRater is Live!

March 12th, 2015

Proud to announce the arrival of our sister site, Oysterater. It’s designed to be the ultimate up-to-the-minute oyster encyclopedia, with listings for every oyster on the planet (eventually), including reviews and insights from the community of oyster eaters. You can join in, find your favorites, tell others about those favorites, and find new oysters by region, size, salinity, cultivation method, and other categories. Check it out; it’s pretty snazzy.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.17.22 AM

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Oyster Omakase in NYC March 18-20 & 25-27

March 7th, 2015

Here’s a rare treat: A guided tasting of some of world’s top oysters and best oyster beverages curated by the incomparable Julie Qiu of In a Half Shell fame. It’s Oyster Omakase!

THE DETAILS

POP UP DAYS: Wednesday to Friday on March 18-20th and March 25-27th, 2015.

SESSION TIMES (30 MIN): 6-6:30PM, 6:45-7:15PM, 8:00-8:30 PM, 8:45-9:15 PM

SEATS AVAILABLE: 4 seats per session = 2 bookings per session. Very exclusive ;)

LOCATION:  The “oyster bar” at Chal Chilli at 124 Lexington Ave between 28th and 29th Street.

INCLUDED PER PERSON: 6 oysters (3 East Coast varieties) + 2 curated “mystery pairings” + small gift.

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