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Oyster Know-HowFebruary 14, 2018

Rowan Jacobsen’s New Rules of Oyster Eating

Nearly ten years ago, I fell in love with a book that sparked a creative act—this blog—that has since changed my life. Although there are many books about oysters out there, Rowan Jacobsen’s A Geography of Oysters will still be the true oyster nerd’s oyster book. I am very honored and excited to have the opportunity to share this repost with you. The New Rules of Oyster Eating is a brilliant mini manifesto about oysters that Rowan first wrote for Lucky Peach, a very popular food magazine that has sadly gone under. I asked Rowan if I could republish it on In A Half Shell because it captures all of the modern ostreaphilic values that I believe in. He said yes. So here it is, accompanied by some of photos that I’ve taken over the years on my personal oyster escapades.

Platter of Oysters at Belga Queen

The New Rules of Oyster Eating

A Minor Manifesto

By Rowan Jacobsen

A decade ago, I wrote a book called A Geography of Oysters that celebrated the romance of oysters, the primal rush of slurping a raw denizen of the sea, and the mysteries of molluscan terroir. The book struck a chord, and American oyster culture has been on a gravity-defying trajectory ever since. Great. But since then, the oyster scene has transformed, while oyster know-how hasn’t kept up. There used to be a few dozen places in the country from which you could get great oysters, and a few dozen in which you could eat them. Now there are hundreds. Yet with every bored banker throwing a few oyster cages off his dock, and every dive bistro reinventing itself as an oyster bar, I’ve never seen so many scrawny, mangled oysters going down so many clueless gullets in my life. Time for a primer. Here are 20 rules for choosing—and dispatching—oysters. Use them, set your friends straight, and for god’s sake tell your servers. Viva la revolución.

#1 Know Your Oceans

The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans taste different. Nobody talks about this, but it’s key to understanding oysters, which draw most of their flavor from the waters they live in. The Atlantic is a pure, sharp brine, while the Pacific is sweeter and more kelpy, like miso soup. Keeping that in mind can help steer you toward your oysters of preference, especially if you also:

#2 Know Your Species

Most of the oysters consumed in North America are either the Eastern oyster or the Pacific oyster. The Eastern grows from the Eastern Seaboard to the Gulf of Mexico. The Pacific grows (yes, you guessed it) on the Pacific coast, from BC to Baja. The Eastern tastes like brine and broth with a sweet-corn finish. The Pacific tastes like cucumber or watermelon rind. Hugely different. Most people strongly prefer one or the other. A classic example of an Eastern oyster would be an Island Creek, from Duxbury Bay, Massachusetts. A classic Pacific would be a Hama Hama from Washington’s Hood Canal. There are also four other minor species of oysters you might encounter. Kumamotos are like baby Pacifics and have even more of that green melon flavor. European Flats, also known as Belons, are the native oyster of Europe and taste like a battery terminal covered in iodine. Olympias, the only oyster native to the west coast, are tiny and taste like a Bloody Mary. New Zealand Flats, the native oyster of New Zealand, are closely related to the European Flat and are equally ferocious. They are only now becoming available in the United States. Try one if you dare.

Array of Oysters in Sheraton Hong Kong

#3 Salty Places Make Salty Oysters

All day long, oysters pump seawater through their bodies, filtering out the plankton. They become just as salty as their environment—which can vary a lot. The upper section of Chesapeake Bay has only one third the salinity of the ocean. Estuaries like Puget Sound and the Gulf of St Lawrence are in between. If you’re a full-on brine hound, look for oysters grown in pure ocean water, like Chathams or Hog Island Sweetwaters. If you prefer an oyster with a fresh mineral bite, look for oysters tucked near river mouths, like Goose Points. If you prefer balance, split the difference. Oysterater maps all the world’s oysters, so you can make a pretty good guess about salinity and water temp, which will help you to:

#4 Follow the Frost Line

Oysters are strongly seasonal. They eat algae, which generally has a big bloom in the spring as soon as water temperatures begin to warm, proliferates through the summer when sunlight is abundant, tails off in the fall, and goes dormant in winter. Oysters go into hibernation in the winter when their food supply disappears, just like a bear. To survive the winter dormancy, they stuff themselves in late fall. They get plump and sweet, then live off their reserves. By early spring, they are emaciated. So: Most oysters I know are best from November through January. Far northern oysters, which have to survive the longest dormancy, can be crazy sweet around Thanksgiving or Christmas. They also suck in March and April, when southern and Pacific oysters have already been feeding and fattening for a month or two. Following these trends will lead you directly to Rule #5:

Oyster Sorting at Fishers Island

#5 Don’t Settle for Skinny Oysters

More often than not, the oysters served in raw bars look like this. Shrunken gray ghosts in a pool of seawater. Those oysters are running on fumes. No fat, no glycogen, no reserves, no sweetness. They’re just going to taste like saltwater. An oyster should be plump and opaque, completely filling the shell, like these Beauregard Islands here. That photo was taken in April, when Gulf Coast oysters have been feeding heavily for months, but Northern oysters are still sleepy and starved. Among other things, this means:

#6 Don’t Diss the South

I’m so bored with northern chefs telling me they don’t serve southern oysters because southern oysters aren’t salty, firm, or safe. These chefs haven’t kept up with the times. It used to be that the last great wild oyster harvests came from Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, so these were the only southern oysters most people had ever tasted. And true, wild oysters are dredged by the ton and sold by the sack; they get none of the pampering of farmed oysters and tend to be gnarled and muddy. They also tend to be less salty, because wild oysters thrive in brackish waters—like Chesapeake Bay and the Louisiana coast—where their many saltwater-loving predators can’t go. That’s how the South got a reputation for bland, skanky oysters. But in the past few years, growers in the Southeast and Gulf Coast have been using state-of-the-art gear to farm oysters in super salty waters, and they are cranking out some of the briniest—and best—oysters in the country, such as Virginia’s Sewansecotts and Alabama’s Murder Points. You probably already realized this also means:

Lane Zirlott holding Murder Point Oysters

#7 Don’t Diss the Farm

Almost all oysters are farmed these days, and that’s a good thing. The debacle of salmon and shrimp farming has conditioned everybody to think aquaculture is automatically bad, but shellfish aquaculture is actually the greenest form of protein production on the planet, because shellfish get all their food by filtering algae out of the water. You just put baby oysters in the water and take out market-size oysters two years later, leaving the water cleaner than you found it. Win, win. Also, oysters don’t move, so there’s no such thing as a free-range oyster. A farmed oyster gets much better (i.e., roomier) living conditions than its wild kin. Choose the farmed ones. Support the farmer. And forget the R rule (which suggests eating oysters only during months that have an R in them, i.e., September–April); that applied only to wild oysters.

#8 Don’t Settle for Scrambled Oysters

Most of the oysters served in restaurants have been butchered in ways that serious oyster people find completely unacceptable. And most of the people eating oysters have no clue. The web is littered with horror shots of oysters that were apparently opened by Hannibal Lecter. Here’s a beaut from the Village Voice. What the hell happened to those things? If you get served oysters that look like this, don’t go back. The muscles have been hacked and the bellies have been shredded, causing the juices to spill out into the shell. Pretty much every shot in this article on “Cool NYC Oyster Bars” is a crime scene. A proper oyster should fill its shell with meat, its liquor still safely running through its veins, waiting to burst when you bite. Here’s a lovely Grand Cru from Washington. Note the smoothly severed muscle and the unmolested belly. The mantle looks perfect. Want more oysters like this? Then:

Chef Ryan Prewitt of Peche New Orleans Shucking an Oyster

#9 Get as Close to the Shucker as Possible

What do you do when you walk into a sushi bar? Huddle in a distant corner with your nose buried in a copy of The Tale of Genji? No, you belly up to the bar and try to mind-meld with the chef. You want his knowledge, her approval, and their best shit. Same goes for oyster bars. Sit at the counter where you can see the oysters and the shuckers. Ask them questions. Suck up. They know what’s good better than anyone else in the building. Pretty soon, they’ll be sliding you treats.

#10 Avoid Dilettante Restaurants

The corollary to Rule #9 is that the oysters served at places that don’t have a designated shucker—even very famous, high-end ones—are often laughably bad. These may be great chefs, but they aren’t on the front lines, chatting with the oyster growers every day, and they haven’t put in thousands of hours at the shucking station. If the restaurant doesn’t have a full-time shucker, don’t go there for the oysters. Just take another look at the victims in that Cool NYC Oyster Bars article. These are the kinds of places to avoid. (Except for Grand Banks, which didn’t get an oyster photo—ironically, since they actually know how to shuck.)

#11 Get as Close to the Grower as Possible

It used to be hard to find great, knowledgeable shuckers, but the bar got raised a few years ago when some of the best oyster growers began opening their own eateries, with Hog Island, Rappahannock River, and Island Creek leading the charge. These growers cared deeply about the things that give oysters character, and they trained their staffs accordingly. Suddenly, we’re seeing oysters that are more perfect than anything we’ve seen before, presented by shuckers and servers who are incredibly knowledgeable. We’re even seeing things like species, provenance, and cultivation technique listed right on menus. Now a new wave of growers has opened places, like Matunuck Oyster Bar and Hama Hama Oyster Saloon, and more are on the way. This kind of vertical integration significantly shortens the supply chain, which is key, because:

Oyster Farmer Looking at Crop in Wellfleet at Sunrise

#12 Freshness Is All

An oyster carries the still-living sea within it. And even though an oyster is alive until the moment it’s shucked, that marine spark diminishes with every moment it’s separated from La Mer. Unfortunately, oysters can survive weeks out of the water, and many you find in restaurants (especially ones that don’t specialize in oysters) are that old. Find places that get oysters straight out of the water and serve them within a day or two. (Or, see Rule #19.) When you get these sparkly ones, you’ll instantly understand why it only makes sense to:

#13 Eat Them Naked

A great oyster is masked by accouterments of any kind, even snazzy ones. Lemon, mignonette, et al. are fine, they just completely cover the flavor of the oyster. All a great oyster needs is a good chaser (Rule #15). On the other hand:

#14 Know When to Ignore Rule #13

Not all oysters are great. Plenty could use a little help. Honestly, sometimes it’s more fun to eat oysters you don’t have to feel guilty for dishonoring. Standing at a bar in New Orleans, eating big, sloppy, dredged oysters right off the counter, is not the time for nude gustation. More horseradish, please!

Garnished Oysters

#15 The Thrill of the Chase

The drink that chases your oyster is almost as important as the oyster itself. Most oysters are quite salty and have a sea finish that goes on forever. It’s the job of the booze to stop that finish in its tracks. Lots of things work well (my general rule is that wine, sake, and martinis go better with Pacific oysters; beer and Bloody Marys with Eastern oysters; but exceptions abound), just make sure you have something at the ready. Bonus: It gets you drunk.

#16 Ice Is Nice, and Will Suffice

Americans consume lots of things too cold. Hard cider, cheese, potato salad. Oysters are not one of them. Cold firms up an oyster and makes it crisp and refreshing. A good oyster bar knows this and serves its oysters nestled deep into a frosty bed of shaved ice. (Cube ice melts too fast.) If your oysters arrive lukewarm, that’s a red flag.

#17 Nothing Beats a Firm Bottom

Now we’re on to the advanced rules. It used to be that all oysters were “farmed” on a bay bottom or an intertidal beach, as they would grow in the wild. But as growing techniques have evolved, and more and more oysters are grown in off-bottom trays and cages, where life is easier and predators nonexistent, it’s become clear that there’s no substitute for planting an oyster on the bottom and allowing it to grow naturally for its last year or two before harvest. In submerged cages, oysters can grow very quickly and easily; they get long, brittle shells and softer meats. Thrown down in the sand or gravel, they’re forced to toughen up. They grow more slowly and develop rounder, deeper, stronger shells. They get bigger bellies, firmer muscles, and richer flavor. Some of my favorite bottom-planted oysters are Colville Bays, Moonstones, Mystics, Cotuits, Pemaquids, Glidden Points, Totten Inlet Virginicas, and Kumamotos from Chapman Cove.

Bottom Raised Pacific Oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms

#18 If Nature Didn’t Give You a Firm Bottom, Try Tumbling

Of course, bottom-planting works only when you have a firm and easily accessible bottom. In most places, the bottom is too muddy or too deep. Years ago, an innovative Vancouver Islander named Keith Reid discovered that if he periodically tumbled his tray-farmed oysters in a mechanical tumbler (kind of like a portable cement mixer), it would chip off their soft growing edge and force them to “cup up.” They had to clamp shut every time they got tumbled, which gave their muscles a workout. They wound up the molluscan equivalent of elfin Olympic gymnasts with six-pack abs. As a bonus, they had beautifully polished shells. Those oysters were Kusshis, and everybody fell for the little cuties. Now many growers tumble. Some use mechanical tumblers, others let the tides do it for them. Look for Chelsea Gem, Shigoku, Blue Pool, and Chunu.

#19 Go Shuck Yourself

The surest way to ensure ultra-fresh oysters is to skip all the middle men and have them shipped directly to you from the grower. You will save a ton of money. And you will have epic parties. Julie keeps an list of recommended suppliers who (A) grow great oysters, and (B) have the shipping part under control. Obviously, this only works if you can shuck them when you get them. But this is something every fully functional bon vivant should be able to do. You can learn in about ten minutes. Important: Get a good knife with a strong, thin blade. After a hundred oysters, you’ll be good. Here is an excellent video guide by Canadian shucking champ Patrick McMurray.

#20 Get Religion

You are slurping down dozens of quivering animals who have given their all for this moment. You lucky bastard. No need to fall to your knees, but a silent nod to the fates might be in order. Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug.

 

 

James Beard Award-winner Rowan Jacobsen is the author of A Geography of Oysters and The Essential Oyster and the founder of the websites Oysterguide (for his opinions) and Oysterater (for everyone else’s).

Oyster RecipesFebruary 12, 2018

Simple Garlicky Kaki Meshi (Oyster Rice) Recipe for Lazy Cooks

Although I am willing to go out of my way to enjoy tasty food, I am much less motivated when it comes to cooking my own. The simpler the recipe, the better. The less effort it takes, the better. I admit that I am a lazy cook, which is why I love this simple Kaki Meshi (Oyster Rice) recipe so much.

Bowl of Oyster Rice in Rice Cooker Pot

What is Kaki Meshi?

Kaki = oyster.

Meshi or Gohan = cooked rice.

Kaki Meshi (or Kaki Gohan) is a simple and satisfying dish featuring seasoned oysters over steamed rice. If you’ve searched for other kaki meshi recipes online, you already know that there’s a great selection of preparations such as:

Unfortunately, all of them require many ingredients, including several somewhat-hard-to-find Asian products that may not be in your pantry or local grocery store. And they also require a bit more effort than what I really want to exert. Kaki meshi typically calls for seasoned, pre-marinated or cooked oysters. I didn’t have the patience or energy to do this step. Whatever. If you do, try one of the recipes as listed above. But if you’re feeling just as lazy as I was, my recipe should do the trick!

The Right Oysters for Kaki Meshi

Some kaki meshi recipes use enormous oysters, but I’m not that crazy about it. I used a handful of Village Bay oysters from New Brunswick in my recipe and they worked just fine. A freshly shucked, preferably briny oyster will enhance the flavor of the rice naturally. I’ve also tried using pre-shucked oysters before, but the kaki meshi ends up tasting a bit too fishy. Shucking the oyster directly into the pot of rice was the easiest approach. Not that familiar with shucking oysters? Then I’d suggest opening them into a bowl first and removing any excess shell or grit with a strainer. Take care to keep the whole oysters intact as this only enhances the final dish’s texture and presentation!

Learn how to shuck by watching my How to Shuck video!

Pro Tip: Invest in a Rice Cooker

I’m an avid rice eater (as a Chinese American, you kind of have to be…), and I’m all about well-cooked rice without hassle. If you are the same way, then you should seriously consider buying a rice cooker.

Doing so will make this experience less about making kaki meshi and more like “my rice cooker made kaki meshi for me!” You can literally throw in all of the ingredients, press START and be eating in no time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, just follow the recipe with a non-stick pot. Make sure that your pot has a well-fitted, heavy lid to lock in the steam as it cooks.

Side note: not all rice cookers are created equal. A higher-end rice cooker makes a huge difference in the final product. I have a Zojirushi rice cooker and it’s one of my best kitchen friends! It pressure cooks the rice (short grain, long grain, brown, etc) beautifully and then it keeps it warm at the perfect temperature. The non-stick pot also makes cleanup a breeze. Zojirushi rice cookers range from $120-$300+ depending on the model. We got ours as a wedding gift a few years ago. Hey you, newly engaged: add it to your registry. You won’t regret it! 

Garlicky Kaki Meshi for Lazy Cooks

Makes 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Jasmine rice or other long grain rice
  • 1.5 cup chicken broth
  • 6-8 medium-sized (2.5-3 inch) fresh oysters, perfectly shucked in liquor
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, slice into chips
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced (or fresh, sliced)
  • 1/2 inch cube of ginger, grated or finely minced
  • Shichimi togarashi (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 stem green onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly in the rice cooker pot.
  2. Add chicken broth to the rice, set aside. If using a rice cooker, fill up to the level of liquid required to cook 1 cup of white rice. I think this should be about 1.5 cups of broth.
  3. Heat olive oil in a small fry pan on medium-high. Place the garlic slices in the oil and fry them until light golden brown on both sides. Remove and place onto paper towel. Don’t overcook! 
  4. Add the shucked oysters, shiitake mushrooms, fried garlic chips and ginger to the rice cooker pot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Close the rice cooker lid, set it to cook White Rice and press Start. If you have a Zojirushi, you can now enjoy Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as it starts to cook. Do not open the rice cooker lid. It will release all of the pressure.
  6. Once the rice finishes cooking, mix the rice and other ingredients around. Add togarashi, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Sprinkle a little green onion on top for garnish. Enjoy!

 

Did you try this recipe? If so, what did you think? What would you do differently? Bonus points if you can think of a way to make this recipe even lazier. Haha! 

Oyster Know-HowJanuary 1, 2018

A Handy List of Oyster Shuckers, Caterers and Mobile Raw Bars

I’m a huge fan of shucking my own oysters, but when it’s about planning a celebration or business event, nobody’s got time for that! If you’re less, “do it yourself,” and more about “do it for me,” look no further. Here’s a quick compilation of shucking services, caterers and mobile raw bars from around the country that can help take your event to the next level.

IAHS Oyster Catering IMG_3092

Oyster Shuckers, Mobile Raw Bars & Catering Services

This list just keeps on growing and growing, so I’ve decided to turn it into a database that is searchable, segmentable, filterable and sortable. I used Airtable to build this and have been obsessed with their platform for over a year! It’s so easy to use and has made keeping track of lots of information fun and simple.

Oyster Education & Curated Tastings

I am taking on a limited number of private clients this summer & fall on the East and West Coast.
Reach out if you’re interested!

 

How to Shuck

I made a shucking video and page just for that. Also, you might like my “How to Enjoy Oysters at Home” post.

Oyster Events, Oyster PeopleOctober 8, 2017

The Spirit of the Oyster South

It’s an opportune time to be an oyster enthusiast in the South. Although many Gulf and Southeastern states have longstanding oyster ventures, the industry is being shaken up by new faces, places, and ideas. A new entity has emerged from this energy. Its name: The Oyster South. Its purpose: building a community around southern family oyster farms.

Oyster South is a non-profit organization that’s comprised of oyster farmers, academics, restaurateurs, and media folks who are committed to the growth of southern oyster culture and community. The cross-sector collective not only fills a geographic gap between the ECSGA and PCSGA, but also reflects the new collaborative spirit between producers, operators, and consumers. I flew down to Atlanta in January and hitched a ride with Oyster South co-founder/board member Ted Golden, aka @FoodieBuddha, to Auburn University to participate in the inaugural Oyster South Symposium.

The gathering consisted of a diverse swath of stakeholders, from professional oyster shuckers to Sea Grant representatives. The agenda was packed with interesting talks. Each state had an opportunity to share updates about the development, or lack thereof, in their aquaculture sector. Louisiana and Alabama are the trailblazers of the oyster farming movement, and North Carolina and Florida also are growing rapidly. Things (legislation, namely) seem to be more complicated in other states such as Texas and Mississippi, and marine resource representatives admit that there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Chefs also had a voice during the two-day symposium. Chef Ryan Prewitt (shown above) from Pêche in New Orleans shared his perspective about working closely with local growers to source the best oysters for his raw bar. His thoughts were echoed by Bryan Rackley, partner/co-founder of Oyster South and Kimball House’s Oyster Situation Director PersonJim Smith, Executive Chef of the State of Alabama and Top Chef contestant also offered up some great suggestions about how to work with your state government to promote oysters. It was a real treat to have such a stellar group of chefs and foodservice professionals at the gathering, and being able to spend more time with them at the Alabama Oyster Social in the evening.

For oyster farming to happen just about anywhere nowadays comes down to one key component: seed. That is why I found the presentations, “Oyster Hatcheries in the South” by Scott Rikard from Auburn University and “Bottle Nursery Components and Operation for Small Oyster Seed Production” by John Supan from Louisiana State University to be especially interesting. If you’re thinking about starting up an oyster business, it’ll be worth your while to watch.

After the first day of class—the venue made me feel like we were all going back to school—the group was let out to refresh themselves in the brisk 40-degree January air. It certainly felt nice, but I wasn’t expecting Alabama to be this chilly!

Jay Styron of Carolina Mariculture lugged out a large white and blue sack of his Cedar Island Selects to the courtyard. As soon as he and Bill Walton had an oyster and knife in hand, a cluster of hungry symposium attendees started circling around the two. The Cedar Island Select—not to be confused with Cedar Islands from Rhode Island—was a brand new specimen for me. It would be my second-ever North Carolinian oyster encounter (the first being Cape Hatteras), and I was very eager to try it.

Bill handed me a pillowy cream-colored oyster. It had a lovely deep cup and felt heavy in my hand. The Cedar Island Select’s icy, ocean-breezy brine tastes more saline than I had imagined it would be although not overbearing. The fully opaque, about-to-spill-over-the-shell meat had marvelously dense and springy texture. The freshness was palpable. I felt a strange sensation while enjoying this oyster. It didn’t actually feel like I was eating an oyster at all! Instead, I was snacking on a luscious sea scallop or lump crab meat. Sea-sweet, supple, and savory. The Cedar Island Select is what I imagine when I hear the phrase, “fruit of the sea,” and I couldn’t get enough.

Although our hands and toes were growing numb from the cold, my senses were wide awake.

I’m newly convinced that not only is it better to enjoy oysters when it’s cold but also eating them in the cold (and maybe while you’re cold). Oysters in the summertime is sooooo overrated. 

Side note: if you are ever handed a freshly shucked oyster by Bill Walton (aka Doctor Oyster), I suggest you accept it. There aren’t many times in your life when you’ll be offered a perfectly shucked oyster sprinkled with super fresh oyster knowledge.

On day two, I gave my presentation, “#OysterLove: 2017 Trends Forecast,” which focuses on a few trends that I see are impacting consumer and B2B marketing efforts. Since that talk, I’ve seen some growers take my advice to heart and really up their marketing and social media game. (Btw: if you’re interested in getting access to the presentation, shoot me an email.)

All and all, I learned a TON at the Oyster South Symposium. More importantly, I got to meet some remarkable growers, chefs, and thought leaders in the oyster space. It’s a really unique networking opportunity and would definitely go again.

Should I Join the Oyster South?

The short answer is Yes. You and anyone who is interested in supporting the growth of the southern oyster industry should join. If you are a current grower or aspiring one based in the South (or have a business that supports the oyster industry), membership is currently just $35/year. Sign up at on their website.

An upcoming Oyster South event that you definitely need to know about is Landlocked on Sunday, October 29th in Decatur, GA (just outside of Atlanta). This magnificent feast of oysters from all three coasts and whole hog BBQ will benefit the University of Georgia Shellfish Lab & Oyster South Partner Farms. Just take a gander below at the growers and chefs involved. I’m going to be there. You should be there. Let’s party!

Tickets are $100 (VIP tickets that get you in the door 1 hour before General Admission is $150).

Grab them here.

 

Oyster LoveAugust 19, 2017

My Oyster Bucket List

Goal-setting is a practice that I firmly believe. When you write your intentions down, they are definitely more likely to come true. I don’t have hard data to back this up, but it really does work! So with that in mind, here’s my oyster bucket list.

Ever since stumbling across Peter Jon Lindberg’s mesmerizing and envy-inducing world oyster journey for Travel + Leisure, I’ve been inspired to weave my own international oyster saga.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel the world for business during my mid-20’s and made sure to take full advantage of it. It’s not only a thrill to experience oysters from all around the world, but pure joy to meet people who are just as obsessed as you are.

Even now with well over two dozen oyster farm visits under my belt, the hunger hasn’t subsided. There’s still SO much left to discover, still many friends yet to meet. In 2010, I started a food-related “to do” list on my pre-oyster food blog. It’s still online if you care to take a peek. I think I will start to keep track of my top oyster to-do’s as well and see how it goes.

 

My Oyster Bucket List

  1. Visit Australia’s Oyster Coast of NSW and shuck my own oysters
  2. Visit an oyster farm in Tasmania
  3. Attend the Bluff Oyster Festival in New Zealand
  4. Harvest and enjoy Limfjord oysters in Denmark before the Chinese eat them all
  5. Hang out at the Knysna Oyster Festival in South Africa
  6. Visit French oyster country (this might take 1 month) — Normandy, Brittany, Marennes-Oléron
  7. Visit a Croatian oyster farm
  8. Visit oyster farms and friends of the United Kingdom
  9. Hang out with my favorite Canadian oyster friends in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver
  10. Visit the oyster farmers of North Carolina
  11. Visit oyster farms in China
  12. Return to Japan and sample oysters from across the country
  13. Finally make my way to the Western Bay of the Chesapeake (I’m stunned I haven’t done this yet)
  14. Four words: Hama Hama Oyster Rama
  15. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick oyster land visit needs to happen as well
  16. Teach an oyster master class abroad
  17. Take an oyster master class abroad
  18. Dive for oysters with Glidden Point Oyster Farm
  19. Take a #shellfie with Anthony Bourdain
  20. Dress Donut up as an oyster farming bear

 

What else should be on here?