As you may know, I am a big fan of Island oysters. I’ve written about Signature, Honeysuckle, Cottage City, and Spearpoint Oysters, and these are only a couple of the oyster farms that are found in the waters of Martha’s Vineyard.
So what could be better than an event, in February no less, that celebrates these fabulous bivalves? Romancing the Oyster is an annual event that the Harbor View Hotel sponsors which highlights a number of local oyster farmers, and offers the culinary team at the hotel the chance to have a little fun too.
Tickets were $50.00, a portion of which is donated to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, a non-profit that manages the shellfish departments of all six towns. This organization is an integral part of keeping our waters clean and stocked with shellfish. It was nice to see a couple members of the group at Romancing the Oyster. They’re always interesting to talk to about what’s happening with in our waters.
The event was really well attended, and there were lots of familiar faces among the crowd. With your admission, you basically were able to have as many oysters as you like.
There were Grilled Oysters, Oyster po’boys, Oysters Rockefeller, and Oyster Strew. With the evening being particularly chilly, I wanted to warm with these tasty treats first.
I am a huge fan of grilled oysters. I think the flavor of the oyster really shines through, and these did not disappoint. I certainly enjoyed my share! All of the prepared oyster dishes were delicious, but I had to save room for some raw oysters.
First Stop for us was Long Point Oysters. Sadly I had missed farmer, Jason Bennett. He had to leave early. Though named Long Point, these oysters are farmed in Katama Bay. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to meet him again soon.
Then it was on to one of my favorites, Signature Oysters. Ryan and Julia Smith produce some beautiful oysters. They are not too big, not too small, and have just the right amount of sweetness to them.
If you ask Julia what the best way to eat them is, she’ll tell you naked – no sauce, no lemon, just the oyster with a little chew just to release the true flavor.
These Katama Bay oysters are a favorite on the Island and can be found in a number of restaurants. Plus, they are the most adorable couple, you can’t help but be a fan (some of you may recognize Julia from her other role, here at Point B, where she is an associate agent).
D & E
Next up were D & E Oysters, also known as Autumn Oysters (after his daughter), where owner and farmer, Daniel Donnelly was shucking away. Dan does not have his wholesale license, so his oysters go to Menemsha Fish House, where they are then brought to Island and Boston restaurants.
D & E Oysters were delicious as well. The brine was flavorful and the oyster itself was a perfect size.
For the next farm, we had Spearpoint, which was recently featured here in the On Point Blog.It was nice to see Jeremy Larsen Scheffer again, and be able to really enjoy a couple Spearpoints. They too were a nice size with a nice brine.
For Jeremy, his favorite way to eat a Spearpoint is smoked. I don’t think I have ever had a smoked oyster, but I bet I will this year!
Right next to Jeremy was his dad, Roy, and his Roysters. It was nice to see father and son next to each other, enjoying the event together. Talking shop and shucking away. It was a treat. Not all fathers and sons end up in the same industry, but these two are farmers and family.
All the oyster farms featured were from Katama Bay, but each farm produced oysters that each had their own flavor. So close, yet so different. From what I understand, even a subtle difference in location can impact what the oysters eat. Different food intake influences the flavor.
So even being in close proximity yields a different oyster. It’s all very fascinating, I wish that Up-Island had a couple oysters represented, but I understand that there the oysters are not as abundant because the ponds freeze over. Each farm had to provide a good amount for the crowd.
In addition to the enjoyment of eating delicious oysters from Martha’s Vineyard, I really liked talking with the oyster farmers. Seeing them shuck, the pride they show when talking about their oysters with people. A fun way to celebrate bounty from our waters.
I think I might have to add Romancing the Oyster to my list of events to go to annually. I can’t wait to see who is added next year! There’s a lot more happening on Martha’s Vineyard during the winter than you might think.
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