Having a full-time job certainly helps facilitate my oyster eating lifestyle, but I never expected the two to intersect. Well, Translation isn't your average work place and this isn't your average oyster tasting.
At Translation, the advertising & marketing agency where I work, my passion for oysters (and food in general) is what I am best known for. That and my photography skillz. My company takes pride in helping the world’s biggest brands thrive in contemporary culture, but also cultivating and creating culture from within. Here’s an excerpt from the recruitment page:
We are an Agency of creative entrepreneurs actively engaged in the culture in which we work. Every member of our team, from CEO to intern, pursues a personal passion within contemporary culture in addition to their job title.
So, while we are a company of writers and strategists and account managers, we are equally a team of photographers and fashion designers and food critics. These ‘majors and minors’ are central to how we as an Agency live the culture in which we work.
Yes, culture is talked about a lot here. Oyster culture, however, isn’t usually part of the picture. That’s probably because oysters on their own has little, if anything, to do with the work Translation does. It’s not an interest that can be directly leveraged to tackle business objectives (like how music, fashion, and photography “minors” can). But despite the obvious connection, I’d say that my In A Half Shell shenanigans does something as equally important for internal morale. For some, oysters are a familiar and much welcomed treat. For others, it can be a brand new and potentially life changing experience. No matter who’s involved, it brings people together and creates a little joy that goes a long way.
The idea of having an oyster party in the office wasn’t a hard sell. I’ve done it before informally, but it was nice to have HR support (and funding). Once I got the go-ahead, I knew exactly who to turn to for top quality oysters. W&T Seafood came through for me again with a gorgeous array of oysters. Blackfish Creek Wellfleets from the East Coast, Shigokus from the West, and Coromandels from New Zealand that brought a unique X-factor. I also called up Eddie Casiano, my favorite oyster shucker, to come in and get the job done right.
This whole operation was certainly a first for Translation, but it was also my first time trying Blackfish Creek Wellfleets and Coromandels. It was pretty cool to explore new flavors and tastes right alongside my colleagues. I was especially excited to have gotten my hands on these New Zealand oysters because they’re quite difficult to come by. Even Eddie remarked that he hasn’t seen them in a long time and that they were one of his favorites. FYI It’s near impossible to get oysters from outside the country with exception of Canada due to import regulations. There seems to be exceptions made for NZ oysters.
Coromandel Oysters are not native to New Zealand. They were brought over in the late 1970’s to Northern New Zealand. These farm-raised Pacific (ostrea gigas) oysters are the same species as what we grow on our West Coast. They possess rocky, fluted shells of burnt orange and copper tints. The meat is a plush and white, skirted with a dramatic black mantle. Being from the opposite side of the world, the Coromandel oyster definitely had a unique and exotic taste. The salty-sweet liquor had vibrant hints of minerality. The flesh was buttery sweet and on the chewier side, with a pleasant watermelon rind finish. The flavors lingers a bit, which only makes you want to eat more.
Blackfish Creek Wellfleet Oysters benefit from the iconic Wellfleet name and origin. Wellfleets are beloved by gourmands everywhere and can be found throughout the country’s best oyster bars. Up until now, I had no idea that there were so many varieties of Wellfleet oysters. As one eye-opening article notes, “To taste one Wellfleet oyster is not to know them all.” The Blackfish Creek Wellfleet was definitely milder and sweeter than many other Wellfleets that I’ve had, which probably has something to do with the sea water / fresh water balance.
Shigoku Oysters are probably on my top 5 most favorite West Coast oysters list at the moment. These oysters are grown in floating bags that naturally tumble them twice a day as the tides roll in and out. An ingenious process and product by Taylor Shellfish. They are a finely manicured oyster with crazy deep cups and supple, sweet meat. They’re like a truffle of the sea — earthy with honey-like creaminess, topped off with a light cucumber melon finish. Shigoku means “ultimate” in Japanese and they really do live up to their name.
It was really amusing to watch people eye them from a distance and strategically position themselves near the oyster table. Some had never tried oysters before and had to be coached through the process. Others were popping them down like candy. I couldn’t even imagine what it’s like from Eddie’s point of view. Trying to match the demand would be like having the daunting responsibility of replenishing the Hungry Hungry Hippos feeding arena. (He said he was used to it.) Within half an hour, all 170 oysters were gone. The Translation Oyster Party was a success!