Oysters Working Toward Improving Water Quality in NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

One of the projects of NY/NJ Baykeeper is to improve the water quality of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary by repopulating the area with oysters.  Oysters are a keystone species native to the area and are key to improving the health of the Estuary.

Baykeeper is the only nonprofit organization conducting oyster research and restoration in both New York and New Jersey.

In NJ, Baykeeper is producing baby oysters for oyster restoration projects at the Aquaculture Facility located at Naval Weapons Station Earle. Here, hatchery raised oyster larvae attach, set, and grow on shell substrate. Once the oysters have “set” on the shell, and have grown for about two months, they are ready for release onto newly established oyster beds or reefs.

Last month, the Baykeeper Oyster Restoration Team launched the Oyster Skiff and set out to check on the oysters at Naval Weapons Station Earle. In summer 2013 over 250,000 baby oysters were produced at the aquaculture facility and hung off the trestle at Earle. June's monitoring trip revealed high oyster survivorship and growth rates, with many organisms present in and around the cages including barnacles, sea squirts, mud crabs, mud snails, polychaetes, spider crabs, Asian shore crabs, blood worms, tautog, and soft shell clams. Soon, spat will be set on shell and reefballs at the aquaculture facility and placed with last season's surviving oysters into structures on the ¼ acre research plot. Sign up for the Baykeeper Newsletter to follow their progress!

In NY, Baykeeper created a large oyster reef at Soundview Park in the Bronx which is split up into a scientific reef where partners monitor oysters for growth and survivorship; and a community reef which holds baskets of oysters used to educate volunteers about the reef and monitoring long term survival of oysters. Both are essential tools in the future of oyster restoration within the estuary. Volunteers are a huge help to Baykeeper because they help monitor oyster growth and notate survivorship. To sign up for the volunteer list, email Allison at allison@nynjbaykeeper.org.

Please support and learn more about the Baykeeper:

Proud Pour - Helping to Clean NY Harbor with Oysters

Proud Pour
Proud Pour OysterProud Pour is a new environmental wine start-up, located in New York City, that focuses on addressing major environmental problems - through wine.

Launched in 2014, Proud Pours first product will be "The Oyster" and it should be available by August 1st.

“The Oyster” is a Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc where every bottle restores 100 oysters to NY Harbor's historic (and functionally extinct) oyster population. As many of our readers know, reviving the oyster populations is supremely important for many reasons, and Proud Pour will help with:
  • Organically filtering up to 5,000 gallons of water daily
  • Helping sea plants receive sunlight by reducing excess nitrogen in the water
  • Creating reefs & habitats for fish, crabs, birds and other organisms.
NYC's Harbor has been severely neglected for nearly a century. Proud Pour is another great idea to help clean our waters!  You can help by purchasing and enjoying their wine.  We at Go Shuck An Oyster don't think that is too much to ask of our readers!  Cheers To Change.

To support, or learn more about, Proud Pour, visit www.proudpour.com and tell them Go Shuck An Oyster sent you.

Not Just Another Roadside Attraction: Killary Fjord Shellfish

By Rand Hoch, Travel Editor

Killary Fjord Shellfish
Another day, another downpour on our Ireland roadtrip. Somewhat drenched from exploring Kylemore Abbey and its walled gardens, Dan and I decided to forgo additional outdoor adventures in Connemara and head back to Galway. Hugging the shore of the Killary Fjord along the N59, we marveled at Maumturk Mountains rising up from the water across the fjord.

Killary Fjord oystersOn account of the rain, our day had turned out to be somewhat of a bust, so we were looking forward drying off at the Oyster Bar at our hotel.  (That too ended up being a bust, so you won’t hear about that particular place on GoShuckAnOyster.com!)

As we approached Killary Harbour on the outskirts of Leenane, I spotted row after row of buoys strung out across the water – telltale signs of shellfish framing.  Things were looking up!

“We have to be able to stumble across someplace nearby  – a pub or restaurant – to sample some locally grown rock oysters,” I wished aloud.

(We had been doing a lot of both stumbling and wishing on our road trip.)

Killary Harbour oystersPeering through the pelting rain, Dan spotted what looked like a food truck parked along the fjord.  As this was a first for us in Ireland, we had to check it out.  That proved to be a very wise decision, as this was no ordinary food truck. The sign on the front read “Killary Fjord Shellfish”. Inside, Richard was waiting for us, oysters in hand!

“Well, you made our day,” I told him.  “So, where do you get the oysters?"
“Over there,” he said, pointing across towards the harbor.
“Over there” is always the best answer to that question.
lemon on Killary Fjord oysters

Richard started shucking, and within a minute or two, he handed over a paper plate with our first six oysters, a little seaweed, and a lemon wedge.  (€10 for a half-dozen  – roughly $US 2.25 each).

The nicely-sized, pear-shaped oysters with deep, scallop edged cups (Crassostrea gigas) are called “Gigas” by the locals and throughout Ireland.  They were brimming with liquor. Go Shuck An Oyster Ireland Without giving it a thought, I eagerly slurped the first one oyster.
The expression on my face tell is all. The liquor was fresh seawater, and I had just gulped down a lot of it, along with the oyster.

While Dan couldn’t help but laugh, Richard quickly handed me a bottle of water to help me reorient my oversalinated tastebuds.

“Try pouring out a little of the liquor next time,” Dan advised, still grinning. Richard explained that the water in his oysters had been feeding on for months needed to be properly savored.

Galway oystersPointing across the water, he explained that fresh rain water constantly flowed down the Maumturk Mountains into the fjord.  Salt water, loaded with tasty (at least if you are an oyster) phytoplankton, flowed in twice daily by the ebb and flow of the North Atlantic tides.  A perfect combination for growing his favorite oysters.

So, having poured out a little of the liquor, we sampled the remaining oysters. Richard was right. Once you get past the initial intense splash of brine, these plump buttery oysters have a lot to offer – including a refreshingly sweet seaweed flavor and a mellow mineral finish.

Sometime soon, I will return to Ireland to enjoy the native oysters in season. Maybe in late-September so I can finally attend the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, now in its 60th year.

Killary Fjord Shellfish
Killary Harbour, Leenane
County Galway, Ireland
+353 (0)87 622 7542

Ireland’s Rock Oysters at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

By Rand Hoch, Travel Editor

The best time to enjoy Ireland’s oysters is in the Fall, when Ireland’s strict conservation laws permit the Emerald Isle’s “native” oysters to be drawn from the sea.  When September rolls around, the native oysters can be drawn from the Atlantic and enjoyed through April (the months which include the letter “r”).  However, for reasons unknown, I recently have found myself traveling to the British Isles only during the Summer months.  (See, “Bentley's Rock Oysters and London’s Summer Olympic Games” here).

Therefore, once again, I am unable to provide any first-hand information about the best oysters to be found in the British Isles – the natives.  I do intend to return to Ireland during oyster season, to enjoy the small, flat, round oysters grown in the tidal sea beds around Galway and other select localities.  From what I repeatedly have been told, Ireland’s native oysters are firm and chewy with a sharp minerality.  I look forward to sampling them soon.

However, my recent oyster sampling was limited to the farmed, “rock” oysters, which are harvested and served in Ireland year round.  As those of you who follow my posts know, I prefer to enjoy my oysters “naked”.  (The oysters are naked  – unadorned with anything other than a spritz of lemon, if that.  I am usually fully clothed!)  So, as I began my tour of oyster bars around Ireland, I sampled naked rocks by the platter.  While I found them generally pleasant, they were not initially inspiring.

During my stay at a hotel close to Merrion Square in central Dublin, I shared my oyster dilemma with the a concierge, who encouraged me to head down the street a few blocks to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud - Ireland’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars.  She recommended their oysters, advising me that I needed to expand my horizons beyond nakedness. Intrigued, I had her make dinner reservations for a party of five.

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is located in the depths of an 18th century Georgian townhouse adjacent to the Merrion Hotel.  We arrived early to check out the hotel’s art collection – and to enjoy cocktails on the sunken patio at the back of the restaurant Grey Goose on the rocks generally works wonders on my palate prior to – and during – oyster samplings.

As dusk set in, we moved indoors to the spacious dining area.  For a basement restaurant, the combination of high ceilings and exquisite lighting worked perfectly to emphasize the bold contemporary art throughout the restaurant.

While almost all of the clientele was dressed in upscale, yet somewhat comfortable attire, the staff was strictly formal, down to their tails. The service was so French – impeccable, romantic, yet slightly haughty.

We were immediately transported from Dublin to Paris.

We each ordered the four course menu consisting of an appetizer, a fish dish, a meat dish, and desert for €130 (roughly $US 175) and selected from a wide range of selections, sampling almost every intricately crafted dish on the day’s menu.  While I could write paragraphs on Chef Guillaume Lebrun’s locavoric leanings, the freshness of the intricately prepared and plated courses, let me just say that we thoroughly enjoyed course after course.

Now, for the oyster appetizer.

The daily menu featured Carlingford oysters from Northeast Ireland.  These tender, slightly nutty oysters were brilliantly balanced with toppings that included shallots, ginger, an “oriental style dressing”, coriander and lime.  From the initial saltiness through to their distinctively mineral finish, Chef Lebrun’s creation proved that naked isn’t always best – at least when it comes to Ireland’s rock oysters.

I can only imagine what he will come up with once September rolls around....

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
21 Upper Merrion Street
Dublin 2, Ireland      
353 1 676 4192              
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday:  12.30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (last orders)
Dinner: Tuesday -Saturday:   7.30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. (last orders)