If you’re a sucker for fabricated food holidays, you might be interested to know that tomorrow (Tuesday) is National Oyster Day! But we don’t need a whole lot of incentive to get down with a dozen or so of the succulent, briny mollusks, and it looks like the rest of the world doesn’t either—nearly two million pounds are consumed every year. Of course, such an outsized demand often has dire consequences—New York was once one of the leading suppliers of pristine, harbor-grown oysters in the 1800’s. But a quickly depleting stock caused us to eventually introduce foreign oyster species, and with that came disease, essentially decimating each and every bed by the 1900’s.
Steps are being taken to restore our harbors to the teeming, oyster-friendly havens they once were, but until then, we can still find solace in the deep, curved cups of various species native to the East Coast. Smaller and saltier than their West Coast brethren, one of our favorite purveyors is Island Creek Oysters, which runs a booming farm, retail and wholesale business out of Duxbury Massachussetts. And we’re fortunate enough to have them on hand during Taste Talks, for both a sexy “Mother of Pearl” dinner, and a roundtable discussion on the future of oysters, followed by oyster tastings and wine.
Here are just a few of the delectable varieties that might be available during Taste Talks, and be sure to keep an eye out for them at restaurants throughout city!
Island Creeks: With a burst of salinity up front followed by notes of moss, butter, and eel grass, the Island Creeks slide home with a robust, sweet finish.
Wellfleets: One of the best known and most readily available East Coast oysters, Wellfleets have plump meat with a mild, sweet flavor, high brininess and a crisp, clean finish.
Moon Shoals: Planted in trays at a very low density about a mile from shore and hand harvested, Moon Shoals have beautiful round shells and deep cups. Their taste is sweet, clean yet creamy, and finished off by mineral and umami notes.
Chathams: Chathams pack a pure briny wallop, with an intense saltiness and concentrated, anchovyesque savoriness.
Taste Talks Food & Drink returns to Brooklyn September 12-14, 2014. See the full schedule and buy tickets here.