Join me and Dan Lewis of Coastal Provisions for a six-course oyster dinner extravaganza as part of the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach festival on Friday, March 14. 6:30-9:00 pm. In addition to sampling the Southeast’s best bivalves, we’ll try Olympias and Shigokus from the Pacific Northwest, and who knows what else? All while the briny scent of the Atlantic wafts indoors and tickles our tastebuds.
Check back here for new oyster tastings and reviews of oyster bars and festivals.
When was the last time you saw an oyster like this:
For me it’s been a few years. It’s the size of my friggin’ hand. Deep, deep cup, incredibly strong shell (but easy to shuck). You see oysters this nice only when you get slow growers that are bottom-planted in a spot they like. And that spot has to be blissfully unaffected by boring sponges (which will turn the shells into swiss cheese), meaning the mid-Atlantic is out. New England is pretty much the only game in town for these kinds of oysters. But even then, most growers generally want to keep the cash flow, well, flowing quicker than it takes to grow these babies (30 months, minimum), meaning oysters like these are now very, very rare. These are Johns Rivers, grown by Dave Cheney in the Johns River estuary of Maine (near Pemaquid Point), and they are like no other oyster on the planet. To go with their robust physicality, they possess a unique flavor, which Dave attributes to the Johns River. (His other oysters, grown in cages in the Damariscotta River, display a more traditional light brine.) Johns River oysters deliver intense fruitiness, sweetness, and brine all at the same time. My wife thoight they had a note of banana/strawberry yogurt; I think it’s more like the banana/clove scent of wheat beer. Whatever the case, it’s really unusual, and it’s followed by a mouth-filling clammy umami taste. What it reminds me of most of all is Totten Inlet Virginicas, the eastern oysters farmed in Puget Sound by Taylor Shellfish (and not seen on the market in a few years). Combine all that with the oysters’ prodigious size, large adductor muscles, and firm flesh, and you’ve got an almost overwhelming experience, though an overwhelmingly positive one. Now the bad news: These are very hard to find. Dave only grows a few thousand a year, though he’s hoping to ramp up operations. Best bet to find them is Mine Oyster, Ralph Smith’s seasonal oyster bar in Boothbay Harbor, right around the corner from Dave’s grounds.
It’s official, oysters are hot. Or so says the NYT. Actually, it’s a great article, and well worth a read. But pretty funny to those of us who have been hanging on (or off) an oyster bar stool for the past decade. Thoughts?
Join me and the captivating Marcia Monahan, head winemaker at Matanzas Creek Vineyards, for an evening of exploration. We’ll explore the different profiles of some of the world’s best oysters, and we’ll explore how they pair with Marcia’s unique collection of Sauvignon Blancs, which are unlike anything you’re likely to find this side of Bordeaux. (And while we’re at it, we’ll explore the rest of the Matanzas Creek portfolio with dinner.) Three dates, three latitudes:
Monday, Feb 24: Bluewater Grille, Redondo Beach, CA
Wednesday, Feb 26: Boudin, Fishermen’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Thursday, Feb 27: Blueacre, Seattle, WA