Mar 24, 2008

Like a spruce-lined snowscape, the green and white ridges of Mystic oysters scream winter in New England to me. Grown by the Noank Aquaculture Cooperative in Fisher Island Sound, off the Connecticut coast, Mystics are as pretty an east coast oyster as you’ll ever see. For that we can thank Steve Plant, who resists shortcuts as he grows them. Steve starts them in bags, like most oyster farmers, but then he nestles them onto clean, hard, managed beds for a year or more. With plenty of elbow room, the oysters get almost round, cup up nicely, and produce strong shells, unlike some other oysters in the vicinity. The salt is just right—enough so you notice, but not so much that you’re immediately casting about for liquid relief—and the sweetness lingers.  Like most northeast oysters, they peak in November and December, but Steve believes they are at their next best in June and July—pre-spawn. I’ll let Steve try to convince you: “Some people get turned off by an oyster with full gonad tissue.  I myself find them delicious… rich and creamy tasting.” Convinced? I plan on giving it a go this June.

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