Eating Oysters in a month without an R?

The June 2009 issue of Cooking Light Magazine offers a great oyster tip and briefly clarifies the old saying, "Never eat oysters in a month without an 'R' in it." The tip says, " Enjoy oysters all summer long (even in months without an "r" in their names) by choosing ones from cooler waters such as Atlantic Bluepoints and Japanese Kumamoto."

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.

Fried oysters in Florida at Echo

This past weekend we traveled to Florida to spend time with family. Fortunately we were in Florida for the last day of stone crab season and my uncle would not let us leave the state without sampling some.

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!

Oyster believed to be Britain's largest oyster found at Devon market

A potentially record-breaking oyster has been discovered in a box of fish bought at a market in Plymouth, Devon.

The oyster, measuring seven inches across and weighing 3lb, is believed to be the biggest found in Britain.

It was dredged up from the English Channel and was bought at a market by Peter Randall, 58, a fishmonger, on Monday.

Mr. Randall, of Mevagissey, Cornwall, said: "It is huge. I have never seen anything like it. I bought a box of mixed fish from the market and the oyster was at the bottom. "I thought it would be a shame to kill it, it must be very old after all, so I called the harbour master and he said he has put it in an aquarium."

Douglas Herdson, a fisheries biologist, said: "Such big specimens are few and far between. A female of this size would be capable of releasing over three million eggs."

The oyster is on display to the public at Mevagissey Aquarium.

A 2.78lb oyster was found in Salcombe, Devon, in 1929, and a 1.8lb oyster was discovered on Arisaig (corr) beach in Scotland in 1997.

A 3.3lb oyster was discovered in Lough Swilly, Co Donegal in 1972.

The world's biggest oyster, weighing 8.1 lb and measured 12 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, was discovered in Chesapeake bay, Virginia, America, in 1999.

The Guinness World Records said it only recognised world records.

(original article is available here)

The Volvo Ocean Race at Fan Pier

The Volvo Ocean Race at Fan Pier will host an unforgettable afternoon by the waterfront with the Legal Sea Foods Oyster Festival Presented by Grey Goose on Saturday May 9, 2009 in Boston. The Festival will overlook the harbor side docks of Race Village. Legal Sea Foods will showcase several varieties of oysters on the half shell. Oyster experts will be on hand to share recipes, flavor profiles, history and to teach the art of shucking an oyster!


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.

B&G Oyster Invitational – Recap of a perfect day

My wife and I arrived at the B&G Oyster Invitational at noon on Saturday. Only a handful of others arrived at the official start time so we were fortunate to have plenty of space, oysters, drink and passed appetizers almost to ourselves for 30 minutes. We camped out in front of the boat of oysters on ice being shucked by Island Creek Oysters. Shore, CJ, Erin, and Berg were decked out in Island Creek apparel and were shucking at an impressive rate. Next to them were the Harpoon Brewery and Matunuck Oyster Farm from Rhode Island. Also in the area was a wine bar set up by Cat Silirie who handpicked a few great options to accompany the oysters. When I thought the day couldn’t get any better the passed appetizers started emerging from the kitchen. I sampled B&G's lobster rolls, calamari, lobster bisque, fried oysters and baked oysters. By 12:30 PM I was buzzed, full and happy as could be.

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.

1. Wellfleet, Massachusetts
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

(oysters are in the above order starting to the right of the lemon going clockwise)

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.

Observing the class before his book signing was Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Geography of Oysters. It was a pleasure to meet him in person because his book is one of the best and I have given it as a gift to people and I have received rave reviews from them.

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.