Last week the Cuisine en Locale crew ventured out to Island Creek Oysters to see where our favorite mollusks originate. The folks at Island Creek are as experienced as they are hospitable, and we learned all sorts of amazing factoids, like how oysters don’t reproduce in the cold Duxbury Bay waters and have to be nurtured in Island Creek’s personal nursery before heading into the big blue sea.
Giant algae tubes and empty round breeding tubs gave us room to imagine the detailed process of growing tiny oyster babes. Looks like we’ll have to come back again in February, when they begin the breeding cycle, to witness that.
We also learned that oysters hibernate in the wintertime, like bears. Who knew? They squeeze their shells together so tight that no water comes through and then hunker down until the snows thaw.
We motored out on the mud flat during high tide. Twelve feet of frigid seawater blanketed the oysters as we giddily examined the tiny boat house with our tour guide, Annie, and our skipper, Hadley. Mollusks and crabs vied for our attention, but the oysters beckoned. Everyone took a turn cracking open the shell and slurping out the just-caught delicacy. Usually I cringe from oysters, but they were so fresh how could I resist? I tried one and ate with relish, shucking a few more for myself and the crew. The deep, mineral-rich seawater and chewy meat invigorated us all.
Kaitlin and I donned the giant mud pants used to harvest during low tide and splashed our feet off the back porch while Ken gave Sandra lessons in shucking. By the end Sandra’s technique was flawless! Maybe we’ll have new oyster shucker at next year’s Valhalla.
We’re so glad we got to take the trip out to Island Creek. If you can’t make it out to Duxbury, never fear! You can find their delectable oysters over at the Island Creek Oyster Bar on Commonwealth Ave in Downtown Boston.