East Coast

New Brunswick

Beausoleil from New Brunswick
Enjoyed at The Mermaid Inn UWS on 2.26.10
While the Beau Soleil (or Beausoleil) oyster never touch the sea floor, their taste is quite “earthy” to me. They have immaculate shells that are tough and bright. They have a distinctive, almost pungent, taste/smell about them that reminds me of canned bamboo. Strange as that may sound, Rowan Jacobsen considers this oyster to be a good novice choice. I personally feel that its yeasty taste will throw most beginners off.

Beausoleil oysters at The John Dory Oyster Bar

Beausoleil Oyster

Enjoyed at The John Dory Oyster Bar on 1.15.11 * * *
The shell is small (2 inches), and the greyish meat nestled inside appears to be somewhat diminutive, but the flavors sing out boldly. Again, I taste a lot of earthiness in these oysters and urge you to linger on the exotic flavors of clay and minerals. The buyer at The JDOB specifically requests their Beausoleil to be harvested from Shippagan Bay.

Fancy Sweet Caraquet from New Brunswick
Enjoyed at Essex Restaurant on 6.16.10
The size was petite and almost looked a bit bashful or shy. The thin body broke instantly upon chewing and released a slightly salty, yet surprisingly metallic briny flavor.

French Kiss from New Brunswick * * *
Enjoyed at Grand Central Oyster Bar on 8.29.10
If you enjoy Beau Soleils, these oysters are grown from the same area. They are larger and plumper than its petite, manicured counterpart. The jelly-like and ultra-creamy texture threw me off a bit, but it matched its soft and salty flavor. While some oyster have a sharp, almost astringent saltiness about them, these French Kiss oysters were much more well-rounded. I probably would not order this oyster again, unless if I could conduct a direct comparison to the Beau Soleils.

La Saint Simon from New Brunswick
Enjoyed at The Mermaid Inn UWS on 2.26.10
These oysters come from the same area as the Beau Soleil, but they have their own unique combination of flavors. The ones that I had a saltiness that quickly disappeared upon the first couple of bites. It tasted a little citrusy that borderlined on bitter. These oysters were fairly small and possessed a nice firm texture.

Prince Edward Island

Blackberry Point from Northwest Prince Edward Island
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 8.5.11
Flavor: 6 | Salinity: 8 | Sweetness: 2 | Texture: Saggy, airy
Straightforward, sharp saltiness, thin meat, but clean finish

Conway Cup from Cascumpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island 
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 8.5.11
Flavor: 4 | Salinity: 5 | Sweetness: 4 | Texture: Juicy, soft
Reminds me of raisins — salty and sweet, straightforward and clean finish

Conway from Prince Edward Island, Canada * * *
Flavor: 7 | Salinity: 8 | Sweetness: 5 | Umami: 6 | Texture: Deep, pillowy, soft
Are Conways the same as Conway Cups? From my notes, it doesn’t seem like it. These oysters were very briny and had a delicious miso soup savoriness to them

Hurricane Harbor from Prince Edward Island
Enjoyed at the Dublin 6 on 5.7.10
Salty, salty, salty! The harsh salinity and steep brininess will overpower any other flavors on your palette for certain. Otherwise, this small oyster is rather unremarkable.

Malpeque from Prince Edward Island
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
I’ve seen this oyster to be much plumper and full of personality. Perhaps it’s a seasonality issue, but this one was thin and low on flavors. I enjoyed chewing it, but have had much better.

Mermaid Strait from Prince Edward Island
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 1.27.10
This medium-sized oyster was mildly salty and had a smooth earthy (almost muddy) taste to it. It reminded me of the taste of “Tian Luo” or Chinese mud field snails, a childhood favorite!

Rocky Shore from Prince Edward Island * *
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 1.10.11
Similar to many of my PEI experiences, this oyster isn’t particularly meaty. However, it does feature a delightful salty, smoky taste that reminds me of bacon! Rocky Shores are grown in Salutation Bay on the southern face of Prince Edward Island.

Salt Aire from Prince Edward Island * * *
Enjoyed at Maison Premiere on 2.9.11
Indeed the taste is how the name sounds–light, puffy, salty. The thin membrane that laid delicately in the long, slender shells had a familiar savoriness to it. I think it was like prosciutto.

Savage Harbor from Prince Edward Island
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on 8.5.10
This bright, briny and light oyster fit snug within its long and slender shell. The meat wasn’t super plump, but it had a potent sweet and metallic flavor. The brininess was not overwhelming, making it a perfect beginner’s oyster. I somehow also envisioned being by a tidepool while enjoying this oyster.

Nova Scotia

Bras D’or from Nova Scotia * * *
Enjoyed at The Mermaid Oyster Bar on 4.6.10
Few oysters I’ve tried have tasted so briny and pungent. Other than the initial shock of this bold and slightly abrasive taste, there was little else to taste. They weren’t salty and the petite size made them a quick bite.

Enjoyed at Maison Premiere on 2.9.11
These petite bites contained little liquor and were salty upon first taste, but the flavor was ever-so-fleeting.

Lady Chatterly from Northumberland Strait, Nova Scotia * * *
Enjoyed at Grand Central Oyster Bar on 8.29.10
The first thing that I noticed about this oyster was its prominent adductor muscle. Despite their delicate name, these ladies definitely work out! They were roughly 2.5 inches long and deep-cupped. Be liquor was very briny, which was also reflected to a lesser degree in the soft meat. Like always, I really enjoyed chewing on the sturdy adductor muscle.

Tatamagouche from Nova Scotia * * * *
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
An interesting name for an equally interesting oyster! It had a rich, mouth-filling nutty flavor. The initially bright and salty meat finished with an earthy, mushroom-ish taste.

Maine

Belon (wild) from Maine * * *
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 12.24.09
Known for their bold, unabashed brassy taste. However, I couldn’t identify any metallic notes in the ones that I ordered. It laid in a flat shell and wasn’t too salty or briny.

Cape Blue from Maine * * *
Enjoyed at the Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex on 8.30.11
Flavor: 6 | Salinity: 8 | Sweetness: 3 | Umami: 2 | Texture: Not as firm as other ME oysters
Cape Blues have a straightforward, clean and crisp taste of the cold sea. They fall short of my personal standard for Maine oysters though–however, it may not have been the best time.

Pemaquid from Maine * * * 
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 1.5.10
The meat is large, firm, chewy, and briny. It’s held in a narrow and long shell. It has a lemony zest to it, that is truly enjoyable when you’re able to chew on it for so long.

Spinney Creek from Maine * * * *
Enjoyed at the Ivy Manor Inn, Bar Harbor on 7.2.10
I savored this large and robust oysters in two ways: naked and dressed as “Full Russian,” which means soaked in Stolichnaya Gold Vodka and topped with crème fraîche and American Sturgeon caviar. The oysters themselves were about 3 inches in length and were fat, creamy, chewy, and firm. They were as salty as you’d find a saltine, not very briny, and had a wonderful hint of seaweed on the nose. The abductor muscle was slightly crunchy and sweet. I also loved the “Full Russian” treatment. It just took this luxuriously sensual food item to the next level. The tart cream balanced the stringent alcoholic taste of the vodka well, while the caviar just added an exotic seasoning to it all. I’d love to try to recreate this combination at home.

Waweknauk from Damariscotta River Estuary, Maine
Enjoyed at Essex Restaurant on 6.16.10
This oyster has a large shell (3.5-4 inches), but the oyster contained it in is not even half the size. It’s disheveled layers of meat had a pointed saltiness to it which then was complimented by a slightly sweet, lemon aftertaste. It also tasted a bit smoky, like cured ham.

Wiley Point from Damariscotta River Estuary, Maine
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 7.26.10
A pop of salt faded into oblivion as the sweet, citrusy tastes within the oyster emerged after a few chews. This oyster possesses a wonderfully fresh brininess, but a clean finish. The meat is moderately firm and crisp– quite refreshing for the summertime.

Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 8.5.11
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 7 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Firm, chewy
Lingering sweetness through the body; crisp, vegetal finish

Massachusetts

Big Rock from South Dennis, Massachusetts * * *
Enjoyed at Riverpark on 2.28.11
These oysters are raised in off-the-bottom racks over a shallow beach, which allow them to get a little “fresh air” during low tide, warmer water and premium nutrients. From what I can tell from these photos, they’re also tumbled a bit to strengthen the shells. The result is a durable, solidly built oyster that melts quite softly in your mouth. The meat is salty-sweet and is accentuated with a finish of baby greens. The shells are remarkably white, which suggests that they pressure blast them clean before shipping.

Enjoyed at Zenkichi on 2.9.11
Although they had the same shape as the ones from Riverpark, these Big Rocks were much more plain in flavor. The liquor didn’t carry with it a fresh sea taste and the meat was also slightly more chewy.

East Dennis from East Dennis, Massachusetts * * * *
Enjoyed at Oyster & Champagne Tasting Soiree on 7.17.11
Bright, briny and bold flavors. The brown, medium-sized oyster is a good balance of saltiness and earthiness. There is a lemony note in the chewy meat. The East Dennis oyster is a true gem among the masses in Mass. While they are currently only available in select high-end restaurants in the city, we were able to obtain 100 pieces from our friends at W&T Seafood.

Buzzards Bay from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts * * *
Enjoyed at Grand Central Oyster Bar on 1.10.11
In April 2003, the Bouchard oil spill resulted in the shutdown of Buzzards Bay shellfish harvesting for the good part of 2004. Today, these oysters are back on the menu and quite enjoyable. They start off with a dash of saltiness, which rounds out into a sweet and buttery, olive oil finish. These oysters are grown quite close to the Onset Beach oysters that I had but tasted significantly different.

Cape Cod from Massachusetts * * *
Enjoyed at Max’s Oyster Bar on 1.7.12
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 6 | Sweetness: 7 | Umami: 8 | Texture: Firm, elastic, plush
They don’t have the mouth-puckering saltiness of some other Cape Cod oysters like the Wellfleet, but it’s sweet soy flavors are undeniably bold and vibrant

Cuttyhunk from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts * * *
Enjoyed at Grand Central Oyster Bar on 1.10.11
Cuttyhunks are cage-grown oysters that hang near the mouth of Buzzards Bay by the Cuttyhunk Island. Two different sizes were presented at the same time (one large, one small) and each had its own flavor nuances. The large size was mildly salty, clean with a sweet mineral wash. The smaller size had a lot more minerality in the meat. This was a pleasant oyster to pair champagne with.

First Light from Mashpee, Massachusetts 
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 8.5.11
Flavor: 5 | Salinity: 6 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Chewy, crisp
Slightly nutty, clean aftertaste; an oyster that is easy to eat a lot of.

Island Creek from Massachusetts
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 12.24.09
Distinctively salty and briny, like most Massachusetts oysters. A fresh gulp of seawater. I would recommend these to salt-lovers.

Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
This time around, the oyster tasted quite different from my first experience. The meat was thin and low on flavor. The only good thing I can say is that the liquid was very refreshing.

Enjoyed at the LUCKYRICE Night Market on 4.30.10
The Setai, South Beach, Miami booth had a delicious duo of crisp fried pork belly, kim chee over an Island Creek Oyster. I got to try the oyster both with the kim chee (which overpowered the flavors) and raw. The raw oyster was quite plump, juicy and salty. They came directly from the source (an Island Creek Oysters rep was there) and I discovered that they can ship directly to homes at $18 per dozen. Not bad!

Katama Bays from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts 
Enjoyed at GT Fish & Oyster on 3.21.11
These oysters possessed a clean, briny and buttery taste that my palette really loved. There was a great earthy, vegetal aftertaste that signaled its MV heritage (I love Martha Vineyard oysters!)

Martha’s Vineyard from Massachusetts
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 12.24.09
In comparison to the Island Creek, these oysters were less salty. After a bit of chewing, they tasted like seaweed from a savory miso soup. I think this was my favorite of the tasting.

Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 1.27.10
These monster 2.5-3 inch beauties were incredibly delicious. They must have also been extremely fresh, judging by the plentiful amount of liquid contained in the shell. After slurping down the light and miso soup-ish body, I was able to chase it with a gulp of the sweet salt water left in the shell. These MV’s were even better than the ones that I had Grand Central Oyster Bar!

Mayflower Point from Dennisport, Massachusetts * * *
Enjoyed at Max’s Oyster Bar on 1.7.12
Flavor: 7 | Salinity: 5 | Sweetness: 5 | Umami: 6 | Texture: Gummy, silky
Medium brininess with an unmistakeable metallic undertone that was subtly bitter (like tea leaves), but nonetheless refreshing — quite the palette cleanser!

Onset Beach from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts  * * * *
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 1.10.11
These oysters are bottom grown oyster near the head of the Bay, which produces a hearty and plump body. Given the mineral-rich substrate in the area, they take on a deliciously smoky flavor that hints of sweet seaweed after some vigorous chewing.

Onset from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts * * * *
Enjoyed at Max’s Oyster Bar on 1.7.12
Flavor: 10 | Salinity: 9 | Sweetness: 8 | Umami: 8 | Texture: Pillowy, smooth, thick
Plump, creamy, a punctuation of brininess that trails with sweet, seaweed notes; the shells are beautifully splattered with gunmetal greys and emerald greens.

Wellfleet from Northeastern Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts * * * *
Enjoyed first at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 1.5.10, Max’s Oyster Bar on 1.7.12
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 9 | Sweetness: 6 | Umami: 5 | Texture: Firm, resilient, mushroomy
These classic oysters (that most manly chefs seem to profess a passion for) possesses a shockingly salty liquor that compliment its sweet, crisp meat nicely. At the raw bar, you’ll encounter bite-sized 2-inch pieces or 4-inch beauties if you’re lucky.

Rhode Island

Beavertail from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
This rather large and plump oyster had a nice balance of saltiness and brininess. It was pleasantly chewy, sweet, and grassy.

Enjoyed at Essex Restaurant on 6.16.10
It really does sort of resemble a beaver’s tail! This large (4 inch) and deeply cupped oyster has a bold, briny, buttery flavor. This oyster is easy to like.

East Beach Blonde from Charlestown Pond, Rhode Island
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 8.5.11
Flavor: 8 | Salinity: 7 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Slightly thin, chewy
Earthy and savory tone; cured prosciutto or ham flavors

Hog Island from Rhode Island
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 5.2.10
Aquagrill listed the Hog Island oyster to be from California, but opon tasting one, I knew that there was something suspiciously not-Californian about them. So I looked the Aquagrill website and I discovered that they were actually from Rhode Island. These oysters were quite salty. The saltiness, which tends to just stay at the front of the mouth, actually moved into the back of my throat. It wasn’t necessarily unpleasant, but definitely not what I was expecting.

Moonstone from Rhode Island
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 12.24.09
As I consumed my first Moonstone, I experienced an elaborate flavor story. First, the saltiness hit. Then it turned subtly sweet and full of mineral flavors. It finished with a crisp cucumber after taste.

Point Judith from Rhode Island
Enjoyed at Mermaid Inn UWS on 5.28.10
Have you ever had the Chicken of the Sea canned oysters? I love them; believe it or not, they were probably the first kind of oysters that I was introduced to. The intense smoky and salty taste is always the same (thanks to industrialization), which makes them a reliable snack. The Point Judith oysters reminded me of that nostalgic flavor. The texture of the meat was smooth, silky, a bit creamy and almost jelly-like in some parts. The liquid was fairly salty, but it wasn’t retained in the meat.

Potters Moon from Rhode Island
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 5.2.10
These itty bitty (1-1.5 inch) oysters packed a huge salty punch! Their small, chewy bodies bursts with a big and briny taste of the ocean.

Umami from Rhode Island
Enjoyed at Aquagrill on 5.2.10
For an oyster with such a delicious-sounding name (literally), I was disappointed by the fact that there was nothing “umami” about it! The meat was shallow, flat, and one note; it was plainly salty (not briny, sweet, or multi-layered). It also didn’t have any aromas of the sea, which all oysters typically do. It has been suggested by The Oyster Guide to use this oyster for cooking (understandably) and eat the “prettier sister” Quonset Points raw.

Connecticut

Mystic from Connecticut
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 1.5.10
Contained in a large, scalloped shell that’s coated with a layer of faint green. The meat fills much of the large cup. It’s light, sweet, chewy and has just the right amount of salt for me. While most oysters taste like they’re in the ocean, these taste like they were relaxing by the ocean.

Ram Island from Connecticut
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on 3.7.10
Medium-sized (2.5 inch) pillows of juicy goodness that bursts with a mature, smoky metallic taste. They were only slightly salty and had a very clean finish.

New York

Blue Island from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on  2.26.10
Blue Island Oysters may be the lesser known “blue” oyster from Long Island, but it’s equally tasty. They’re about 2 inches long and are soft/flexible to the bite. Its salty and briny flavor is punctuated with a metallic note which grows a little stronger at the back of your mouth. This is a great oyster to have with Mermaid Inn’s signature mignonette sauce (a beautiful combo of shallot, red wine vinegar, and pepper).

Blue Point from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at the Hog Island Oyster Company on  9.25.09
Ironically, I had to travel all the way to San Francisco to really experience my first “legit” Blue Point. I’m sure that I have had dozens of these in the past, but completely ignorant of its origins and heritage. These are the “quintessential” oyster and taste very much of the sea. Salty and briny.

Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
This meaty 3-inch oyster began softly on my palette and slowly developed into a mild salty brininess. I detected notes of seaweed after chewing, which dissolved into a steely, clean aftertaste.

Fishers Island from Fishers Island, New York
Enjoyed at Goat Town on 3.4.11
These classic East Coast oysters are pleasantly briny, crisp and clean. They have a short, but sweet finish to them.

Flower from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at Recipe on 6.13.10
As the first trio of a dual East/West coast sampler, I tried the three Flower oysters first. The plump and squishy meat as still a bit attached to the shell via the tough abductor muscle. The flavor was nutty, pleasantly buttery. Other than that, the flavor is difficult to describe; there was a lack of saltiness, brininess and even sweetness from it. It vaguely reminded me of fish brain, which I know not many people will have the opportunity or appetite to experience. If this oyster were a person, it would definitely be a meat eater rather than a vegetarian.

Naked Cowboy from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on 4.10.10
Everyone knows and loves the Naked Cowboy in Times Square, so you can only imagine why this oyster is named after him. (Primarily because people enjoy both in their “naked” states.) The oyster is fairly salty, briny, and come in sizes ranging from small (1.5 inches) to medium (3 inches). The meat is plump, chewy, and ends with a light aluminum taste. If you want to learn more about them, check out this great video from the producer, Blue Island Shellfish Co.

Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 1.10.11
Despite the large range of territory that these aquatic cowboys cover (various areas across the Long Island Sound), they are always consistently tasty. They are salty, but not abrasively so. They also have a certain chewiness about them. Turn the shells over and you’ll notice the various ranges of color– from dark/green tinted to pearly white.

Peconic Bay from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at The John Dory Oyster Bar on 1.15.11
Their thin, elegant beige and cinnamon-swirled shells hints at a pampered life in cages, suspended above the ground. My oyster had a lot of salty liquor in it, signaling its freshness. Other than that, however, the taste was typical of a Long Island oyster. A little buttery, but not sweet or mossy.

Pine Island from Long Island (Oyster Bay Harbor), New York * * *
Enjoyed at Maison Premiere on 2.9.11
The large, dark belly suggested bold flavors to come and it delivered on that quite nicely. The salty, chewy meat had a rocky aftertaste.

Tomahawk from Southampton, New York
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on 2.26.10
Tomahawks were originally grown in Massachusettes by the Wampanoag Tribe, but they abandoned the operation a couple years ago. Today, the oysters are raised by the Shinnecock Indians of Southampton instead. While the oysters are small, the flavor is surprisingly bright and clean. The meat is firm and crisp. They’re quite mild in flavor; not very salty or briny. However, I really enjoyed chewing on the meat and drinking the cool, nutrient-filled liquid.

Widows Hole from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 12.24.09
This oyster’s thin and slender body held a deceptively large quantity of salt! It was very salty and had jelly-like flesh. Definitely not a beginner’s oyster nor one that I will ever opt to order.

Wild Fire Island from Long Island, New York
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Inn UWS on 3.17.10
Medium sized (2 inch), thin oyster that had a mildly salty taste. An earthy brininess appeared after a few chews. It was a satisfactory oyster, but nothing noteworthy.

New Jersey

Cape May Salts from New Jersey
Enjoyed at Hank’s Oyster Bar on 12.5.09
A small petite (1 inch) oyster that tasted very clean and crisp. The meat was very light (second photo), plump, and the liquid was moderately salty.

Virginia

Barcat from Virginia
Enjoyed at Goat Town on 3.4.11
Large and in charge, this round-shelled Virginica oyster possesses succulent mollusk-y (clam-like) flavors, low salinity, and a clean finish. The texture was nicely chewy.

Broadwater from  Occohannock Creek, Virginia
Flavor: 7 | Salinity: 7 | Sweetness: 5 | Texture: Meaty, dense
Enjoyed at the Oyster Bash on 10.20.13
Like a firm handshake, the Broadwater oyster delivers a memorable first impression. Bright, crisp, and full of personality — they are quite salty to begin with, but once you work your way into a few, subtle hints of sweet, grainy grass will slowly emerge.

Olde Salt from Virginia
Enjoyed at Hank’s Oyster Bar on 12.5.09
This was a rather large (2.5 – 3 inch) oyster. Its shape was long and slender. The oyster is quite meaty and fairly salty. The after taste was slightly bitter.

Chincoteague from Virginia
Enjoyed at the Grand Central Oyster Bar on 4.14.10
The salinity of this 3-inch oyster was very acute upfront, followed by a mellow sweetness. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but still enjoyable to eat.

Misty Point from Virginia
Enjoyed at the Mermaid Oyster Bar on 7.26.10
How am I eating an oyster from Virginia in July? Misty Points are triploids, so they don’t spawn during the summer months. They are small oysters (1.5 inch), but contain a surprisingly robust flavor. Its briny, earthy, almost sweet meat is delightfully chewy. They are a good savoring size; you really can focus on the subtle notes of lettuce and grass.

York River Oysters

York River from Yorktown, Virginia
Enjoyed at Parents’ Home on 2.25.12
Fantastically plump, buttery and simply beautiful to look at. They are grown by Tommy Leggett and his crew in the lower York River at York Town, near the Chesapeake Bay. The liquor was mildly briny and the chewy meat possessed a clean aftertaste. The white bellies were mildly sweet and delivered a depth of flavor that is unique for Virginia oysters.

 

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