Southern Charm With a Twist: Oyster Gifts from the Gulf

Happy Father's Day, friends! I'm sitting outside on my parents' deck right now overlooking a forest of trees, listening to the gentle rustle of their leaves and sleepy-sounding songbirds. It's a perfect summer day.

To keep the good stuff going, I thought I'd take a moment to share a couple of my favorite new discoveries from the Gulf: Massacre Island Oysters (AL) and Sally Bynum Anzelmo's (LA) gorgeous oyster-themed paintings and glassware.


Massacre Island Oysters

A few weeks ago, a box of Massacre Island Oysters landed on my doorstep. They were sent by Chris Nelson from Bon Secour Fisheries, who insisted that I had to try these out. First of all, I'm going to be honest and admit that I don't accept oysters from just anyone, nor freely write about every new oyster that I try. But after shucking a few open and savoring them, I knew that I had experienced something special.

Here are my tasting notes from that day:

Umm YUM. These hefty lime-sized oysters have a thick, sturdy shell and a faint brackish bayou aroma. On the inside, the meats are consistently pearly plump and come up nearly to the edge. Taste? Briny, like high 20s-low 30s ppt, earthy, powdered sugar and a serious sweet shrimp finish. Imagine wild-caught jumbo shrimp cocktail. Silky, tofu-like texture with a bit more density.

I didn't mention that these were a breeze to shuck and had beautifully manicured shells. I'm not sure how I failed to take photos of any! Must have been too busy scarfing them down...


Massacre Island Oysters are grown on the west end of Dauphin Island, Alabama, using off-bottom floating cages. The grower and founder of Massacre Island Oyster Ranch is Tyler Myers, a young aquaculturist who lives down the beach. Check out this great interview with Tyler written by Josh McCausland to learn more! I was pretty much won over when I came to the mention of his dogs, Biscuit and Gravy. Breakfast foods make the best pet names. (My husband and I fantasize about getting a Mini Dachshund named "Donut.")


Sallie Bynum Anzelmo Art & Houseware

I came across Sallie's beautiful and youthful oyster artwork on Instagram one day. The abstract oyster shapes, chic color combinations, and playful designs really caught my eye. The Baton Rouge-based artist first started creating glassware in 2008 and developed her oyster line in 2011. Sallie told me her story in an email exchange:

"We were planning our wedding and moving in to our first house at the time. My florist decided to incorporate oyster shells into some of the arrangements and from there I was hooked on the beauty of the shell itself. I started creating large scale oyster paintings and added gold and metallics to the trim of the shells which has now become my signature look. Soon after the paintings, I had friends who wanted smaller versions of my oysters. So I decided to create a line of houseware, starting with the coasters and the gold oyster ornaments, which began the gold oyster craze. From there I made the dishes, oyster glasses, keychains, and so on..."

Yay! Wedding decor twinsies!

Sallie's work is currently carried in seven states along the Gulf and East Coasts, and continues to make their way around the globe. You can also find a selection of her goods on Etsy. I'm kind of obsessed with her latest custom glassware commission too.


Photos by Sallie Bynum Anzelmo

Gorgeous, right? On that note, I think it's time to grab a glass of my own and take it easy for the rest of the day. Many thanks to Chris from Bon Secour and Sallie for sharing their oyster love with me!