So how did the saying get so popular? Here are a two common answers:
1. In the days before refrigeration it was not possible to keep oysters fresh. So if you lived inland you could not get seafood before it spoiled.
2. "Oysters spawn in the warm summer months, usually May through August, although natural Gulfwater oysters can spawn year-round due to the warm waters. Spawning causes them to become fatty, watery, soft, and less flavorful instead of having the more desirable lean, firm texture and bright seafood flavor of those harvested in cooler, non-spawning months.
This being said, you can still find good oysters in spring and summer, usually imported from cooler waters or from farms.
A new genetic procedure being used by some commercial oyster farms renders farm-raised oysters sterile, so they don't spawn at all, thus making prime oysters available year-round."
Another source can be found here.
Personally, I can tell you that during May of 2009 I ate plenty of raw oysters and they were great. My local Whole Foods Market was selling four different kinds of oysters during Memorial Day Weekend so I picked up 50 for a BBQ I was hosting at home. My father-in-law and I enjoyed twenty of them the night before the BBQ and my guests sucked down the rest on Memorial Day.
Here is a picture of my good friend Todd enjoying an oyster for the first time in several years.
As long as you get your oysters from a reputable place, you should be confident eating them all year round. Go shuck and enjoy.
We enjoyed stone crabs with a side of home made mustard sauce and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with Uncle Rand and then his friend Donnie joined us for some Chardonnay before we dined at Echo in downtown Palm Beach.
This is from Echo's website:
"Since bursting onto the scene in 2000, Echo established itself as one of the hottest destinations for dining in Palm Beach. Now in its ninth season, the restaurant’s allure remains as strong as ever, thanks to revitalized design elements – from lighting to wall covering to menus - that are as fresh with personality as the cuisine. In this bold, stylish setting, diners enjoy a one-of-kind, culinary and cultural experience, as they explore the distinctive flavors of China, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam."
It is always fun to be welcomed by David Thall, General Manager, who takes great care of each customer and knows the regular customers by name, especially Rand and Donnie.
Donnie and I noticed Echo had fried oysters on the menu. We had an order with our appetizers and then ordered a second round with our main meal. They were a real treat and Echo left us stuffed from sushi rolls, Asian dishes and chocolate souffle.
(order of fried oysters from Echo)
We planned to go to a raw bar but one had closed down and the other was only serving oysters from Massachusetts! We passed on the raw ones and decided to wait for fresh oysters at home.
We look forward to another trip to Florida to see family and to sample raw Gulf Oysters. Anyone with recommendations for fresh oysters in the Palm Beach area, please let me know!
3:00PM Open to the Public
6:00PM Official Shuck off – Main stage
7:30PM Oyster Festival to Conclude
This event is FREE and open to the public.
12:30 PM arrived and Rachel and I walked across the street to Stir for an intimate class called, "Discovering Your Oyster Profile." The staff, Mark and Heather, educated 10 of us on Wine Director Cat Silirie's suggested wine pairing for the oysters, a 2007 Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine Clos des Briords. We were then presented with a variety of east and west coast oysters.
2. Fancy Sweet Caraquet, New Brunswick
3. Permaquid, Maine
4. Matunuck, Rhode Island
5. Canoe Lagoon, Alaska
6. Fanny Bay, British Columbia
7. Olympia, Washington
8. Kumamoto, California
We learned about each oyster, sampled it and then discussed the taste. I missed some of the discussion because I was busy eating Rachel’s oysters in addition to mine. Rachel is pregnant and is not eating raw oysters nor drinking alcohol for the meantime. This doesn’t stop her from attending oyster festivals and classes with me, and that’s just another thing I love about her. She’s also been my designated driver which came in handy after the festival.
After the Stir class we went back to the Oyster Festival. At 1:15 PM it was crowded. Fortunately it was not overcrowded but it wasn’t just a few of us in the room anymore. After a few more oysters and Harpoon IPA we found Andrew Jay of the Massachusetts Oyster Project and Alyson from Shuck-Off. What great people! I’ve been following the work of the Mass Oyster Project and it was fun to put a face to the man behind the great work.
Out in front of B&G on the sidewalk of Tremont Street, there was a table set up by Woodbury Shellfish out of Wellfleet, MA. They were giving samples of the most delectable littlenecks, raw of course! The owners were great to talk to, and even gave some tips on opening the littleneck, which I generally break the shell. Here is link to opening techniques they share.
Before we left the festival we sampled the hot dogs being grilled by The Butcher Shop and had a few sightings of famous people including Eli Feldman from No. 9 Park, William "Chopper" Young, and of course Cat Silirie and Rowan Jacobsen.
Barbara Lynch has to be proud of her accomplishments: No 9 Park, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Stir and the Oyster Festival, to name a few, are all incredible experiences. With a visit to Boston, you must indulge at one of her restaurants. Better yet, save your visit for next year's B&G Oyster Festival and arrive early.