Carlsbad Blonde

Dec 05, 2011

Carlsbad was a sleepy beach town midway between San Diego and Los Angeles before Lego decided to build a theme park there in the 1990s. The oyster, the only truly Southern California variety, has a bit of a theme park look to it: glassy shells with jagged fans of white and purple stripes reminiscent of an art deco light fixture. It is grown offshore in suspended culture and has a strongly briny flavor with overtones of melon and cucumber, and a touch of alkalinity. Definitely different than the Bay Area varieties. Interestingly, there are three variations on the Carlsbad theme: the very small Carlsbad Luna is the briniest, because it hasn’t had time to build up its glycogen content yet, while the Carlbad Blonde is balanced between briny and sweet. Carlsbad Aquafarms also takes some Blondes and gives them a two-hour freshwater immersion, which sweetens them markedly and allows certain flavors to come forward. These are sold as Del Sols; I haven’t tried them, but am eager to. I welcome comments from anyone who has. Look for Carlsbad Blondes at restaurants and farmers markets throughout southern California.

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