Windy Bay (Alaska) Oysters

Jul 23, 2011

Cordova, Alaska, salmon paradise

The town of Cordova, Alaska, 3,000 hearty souls clinging to a slope on the edge of Prince William Sound, is famous for Copper River Salmon, possibly the world’s best, but just offshore lurks a lesser known but equally remarkable seafood: Windy Bay oysters. Windy Bay is a little fissure in Hawkins Island, which is just across the channel from Cordova. In these cold, clean Alaskan waters (There’s no other town for about a hundred miles in any direction), the suspended-culture  oysters grow slow (3-4 years to market size), which gives them their deep flavor: powerfully briny, then sweet, then a finish of watermelon rind and lots and lots of zinc. The oysters are beautiful, as suspended Pacifics tend to be, delicately painted in pink and purple swirls, and firm and meaty. The only problem? They aren’t widely available in the Lower 48. If you see any, grab ’em. But your best bet is to head to Cordova (no roads; plane or ferry only) and sidle up to a barstool at the Alaskan Bar, on Main Street (owner Dave also grows the oysters), order a dozen with an Alaskan Amber, and plan your next day’s salmon fishing (or relive the highlights of that day’s).

Hawkins Island (on left) on the edge of Prince William Sound

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