Scorton Creek Redux

Feb 09, 2014

Recently, to my great surprise, I found Scorton Creek oysters in my local Shaw’s Supermarket. I don’t know if the entire Shaw’s chain is carrying Scorton Creeks, but if so, that’s an amazing development, because Scorton Creeks are very, very fine oysters, and very, very fine oysters are not something national supermarket chains have traditionally carried. We can indirectly thank BP for that. Shaw’s, like most supermarket chains, used to carry the  cheapest of the  cheap Louisiana oysters. The price was right, even if the taste wasn’t. Then, in 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon blew up, spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, most of the oyster beds in Louisiana were shut down for months, and the nation’s supermarkets found themselves with no sources for live oysters. The ones in the Northeast switched over to “Bluepoints,” but these were often virtually tasteless ones coming from Delaware Bay, really no better than the Louisiana ones. Shaw’s, which is a New England chain with HQ in Massachusetts, seems to have found its way to local oysters, and some of the best New England has to offer (my Vermont store was also carrying Matunucks). A very welcome development indeed. At $1.25 a piece, the price is just about right. If you shop at Shaw’s, pick up a few, so they keep it up.

Scorton Creeks

But enough about Shaw’s; let’s talk about Scorton Creeks. I had tasted Scorton Creeks when Scott and Jennifer Mullin, the couple that raises the oysters, first started in 2008. I loved them, but I hadn’t seen them in a while and they’d slipped off my radar. Not any more, because I’d forgotten how extraordinary they are. Amazingly deep cups, filled with firm, crisp, ivory-colored meats. They had a perfect salinity, with that spruce note and astringency that I like in a virginica, along with lots of creamed corn/razor clam sweetness.

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Scorton Creeks are grown in cages in the western end of Barstable Harbor, which is shaping up to be one of the great oyster merroirs in North America. Cape Cod Bay has three great harbors: Wellfleet at 3 o’clock, Barnstable at 6 o’clock, and Duxbury at 9 o’clock. All three produce premium oysters, but Barnstable might wind up being the real star. Besides Scorton Creeks, it produces two more of my faves–Moon Shoals and Beach Points--as well as some other top contenders. The Scorton Creeks are grown snuggled up against Great Marsh/Sandy Neck (That snakelike tidal creek to the west is Scorton Creek), in the wild end of the bay. Nice spot. Nice oysters. Nice place to visit.

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