Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oysters and Geography

Oysters are one of many options on our daily menu. We bring in a fresh batch of oysters each week, and sometimes we like them so much we order them again for the next week. They are also a menu item - that around here especially - you will not find on many other menus. And look, you either love oysters or you hate oysters. There isn't much in between.

The real question though, is how do you know if you will like each particular batch of oysters that we bring in? Most of you are probably thinking, "Isn't an oyster just an oyster? Don't they all taste the same?" The answer would be most definitely no!

Oysters are almost a little bit like wine, in that not every Merlot or Chardonnay tastes the same. There is such a difference between a gulf coast oyster, Canadian oysters, east coast oysters and west coast oysters. The only way to truly experience the taste differences is to sample as many different types of oysters that you can find. From there, you'll quickly learn what region's oysters you prefer.

The difference in flavor profile comes from what might be in the sand or mud and how salty or briny the water might be. An oyster's location will play a big factor in their size and even their appearance. Typically, if you need a knife to cut your oyster, it's probably not very good. In the world of oysters, bigger isn't always better. Another example might be that a gulf coast oyster will have a much shorter shelf life because it spends most of its life in warmer waters. 

Geography plays a huge factor in the world of oysters. Find an area or region's oysters that you enjoy, and you will probably enjoy most oysters from near that area.

Boston Chef Jeremy Sewell runs Row 34 oyster bar and he says there is not much of a difference between East Coast and West Coast oysters. He says the West Coast will be a little bit sweeter and smaller, and the East Coast a little bit brinier and bigger, but not much. Some of his personal favorites are the Kumamoto (which we have had here) and Shigoku from the West Coast. And from the East Coast, he enjoys Moon Shoal and Rocky Nook, both of which we have had on our menu. Chef Jeremy also prefers his oysters with a mignonette sauce (shallot vinaigrette), which we also offer here. Trust us... we know what we are doing.

There is also the myth about only eating oysters in months that contain the letter "R." This myth has everything to do with how few oysters used to be farmed, thus not being as abundant. They would be spawned during the summer months, and it was strongly discouraged to eat oysters between May and August. But there have been huge advances in shipping and packing regulations.  Now oysters can be enjoyed all through the year, and you will always have a place to come and get them!

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