Over the past year, I’ve been visiting oyster farms and oyster bars across North America for Oysterguide’s sister site, Oysterater, as well as a new book called The Essential Oyster. Where there used to be a few dozen places in the country from which you could get great oysters, and a few dozen in which you could eat them, now there are hundreds. But with every bored banker throwing a few oyster cages off his dock, and every dive bistro reinventing itself as an oyster bar, oyster know-how hasn’t kept up. I’ve never seen so many scrawny, mangled oysters going down so many clueless gullets in my life. So it seemed like high time for a primer. The good folks over at Lucky Peach, the new gold standard for thoughtful food writing, agreed. I settled on twenty rules for choosing—and dispatching—oysters. Use them, set your friends straight, and for God’s sake tell your servers. Viva la revolución.
Check back here for new oyster tastings and reviews of oyster bars and festivals.
Morgan Scully is the daughter of Barb Scully of Glidden Point oyster fame. She’s done every aspect of oyster farming, and she’s now a student at Kenyon College studying art and psychology. She’s been interning at Villard Studios in Boothbay Harbor, studying woodblock printing, and she just produced this stunning hand-watercolored block print of one of her Glidden Point oysters. To me, it captured the essence of an American oyster perfectly. Morgan says, “Growing up as Barb’s daughter, with the oyster farm being such a large aspect of my childhood and my family’s identity, it seemed fitting to create an oyster woodblock to carry my knowledge of oysters over into other aspects of my life.” You can buy a print from Morgan ($50 unframed, $75 framed) by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were unlimited Glidden Points, and the biggest oyster-themed ice sculpture the world has ever seen, and sushi everywhere, and real Champagne of course, and Sam Calagione on the dance floor (Hey, Sam, let’s make it a multicourse oyster-Dogfish Head pairing next year?), and then Ralph (the Mine Oyster guy) and Smokey (the Pemaquid guy) fought to a draw in the shucking contest, and then the band with the big wigs busted out the Donna Summer and things got a little crazy. That’s how they like to do it at Mine Oyster, and if you missed it this summer, you can catch the three-day fest in October, and if you miss that, start planning your midsummer in the midcoast. Photos by stylist & photog extraordinaire Adrienne Anderson.
Here’s a fun new plaything for the oyster lover who has everything: 33 Oysters on the Half Shell, a pocket-sized tasting journal from Julie Qiu, the powerhouse behind the amazingly thorough and well-designed In a Half Shell site. It’s part of the 33 Books series.
Every page includes spaces to record each oysters region, species, size, texture, flavor, etc., as well as a unique tasting wheel so you can “map” each oyster’s signature.
There’s a brief glossary and even a built-in ruler. Naturally, the ink is made with a few drops of oyster liquor. Like I said, fun!
Calling all shuckers:
Mine Oyster is offering cash on the barrelhead for gifted shucking at its 2015 Oysterfest, Saturday October 17 in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Shuck a perfect dozen (30-second penalty for butchered oysters).
First prize: $500
Second prize: $300
Third prize: $100
Plus live bluegrass and $2 Glidden Points all day.
Spread the word…