Top Oyster Moments of Seafood Expo 2015
The month of March was a real oystery blur for me, but I had to make sure that I wrote up a quick recap of my favorite moments during and outside of the trade show.
This year felt similar to last year's event, but with a few extra surprises that made it even more memorable. To start...
#1 Hanging Out with Rowan Jacobsen and Patrick McMurray
OMG. Star struck. For a few of you who might be confused, the two gentlemen are oyster celebrities. Rowan Jacobsen is the author of A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America, my oyster bible. He really has his ABC's down: apples, bivalves, cider. I had met Patrick McMurray a couple years ago at the Galway Shellfish Festival. He's a world champion oyster shucker, restaurateur, inventor (see: ShuckerPaddy), author of "Consider the Oyster: A Shucker's Field Guide," and all around fun guy to be around. Naturally I had to ask for a photo together and promptly posted it on Instagram. Because if it's not on social media, it never happened.
#2 Getting a Behind the Scenes Look During the Shucking Contest
Judges for the competition were Chef Chris Aerni of Rossmount Inn; Skip Bennett, founder of Island Creek Oyster Farm and Joseph Milano, owner of Union Oyster House. Patrick McMurray MC'ed the event, briefed competitors, judges, and support staff. I helped carefully shuttle completed trays of oysters backstage for judging.
Post-competition with my buddies Paul Hagan and Daniel Notkin. Daniel won!
#3 A Shuckin' Social with R. Murphy Knives
Speaking of shucking, I bet you at least a handful of the competitors were using R. Murphy knives as their go-to blade. I had a chance to meet the owners of R. Murphy Knives over at the New England Food Show, which ran concurrently with the Seafood Show. I tried a few in my hands and really loved the feel of the wooden-handled Wellfleet style knife. Thanks to the uber generosity of the Younkins family, I walked away with a pretty sweet take home of shuckin' swag, just in time for my Oyster Omakase!
#4 Massachusetts Oyster Flight at Row34
Through a crazy mix of digital and real-world introductions, a group of us media/marketing folks (including the very lovely Michael-Ann Rowe from Off the Beaten Palate and Jessie Johnson from Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference) ended up at Row34 after reception hopping, which by the way, didn't include oysters but a lot of other delicious seafood! At Row34, we had the signature Island Creeks from Duxbury, Wellfleets, Chathams, and petite Hog Island (Sweetwaters I presume, although the menu didn't specify).
#5 Meeting New Oyster Growers
The wonderful Zirlott family (and Beth Walton) from Murder Point Oysters — a new farmed Alabama oyster that will make you reconsider oysters from the Gulf. And James Power, grower of Daisy Bays, Raspberry Points, with a handful of other oysters from PEI. This winter was particularly harsh for everyone along the Atlantic Coast, but James decided to take matters into his own hands by buying a 10 ft chainsaw.
Getting a peek into the scale of West Coast aquaculture with Ian Jefferds of Penn Cove Shellfish.
#6 Seeing Old Friends
Pangea Shellfish returned with a glistening display of over 30 varieties of oysters and other shellfish. The sad thing was that none of it could be eaten! While having a chat with Ben Lloyd behind the set up, I could see the wonder and hunger in people's eyes as they walked by the display.
Heather Lusk and Rich Terry from HM Terry (growers of Sewansecott oysters) showcasing a new line of packaged shellfish delights. Dave Ryan, grower of WiAnno Oysters, and his two sons, Matt and Nathan.
#7 Slurping in the Historic Union Oyster House
#8 Sampling Fresh Oysters
Throughout the Seafood Expo, I had the chance to sample some excellent oysters from all around the world, including mega Fanny Bays from British Columbia.
A brilliantly briny and succulent Pacific oyster grown in Baja Mexico, branded as the Sol Azul oyster.
Is there a record for largest oyster eaten? Until next year...