So when my pal Greg recently suggested I venture north of Boston for an oyster-eating adventure, the answer was “I’d love to!” We met at the Hale Street Tavern, Sushi and Oyster Bar in Beverly Farms, snagged a seat at the crowded bar, and sampled the six varieties of oysters on the menu.
Warning: Ever eat oysters with a food writer? Patience is required. Here’s how it goes: You order oysters, and when they arrive the first thing the writer says is: “Don’t touch them!” This is followed by lots of picture taking and note making with possible additional questions to the server. THEN you can eat them.
1. Crowes Creek, Nova Scotia. (At least I think they’re from N.S., as I can’t confirm this via the web. Anyone with info about these tasty mollusks let me know.) Sharp and salty. Greg likened the taste to the experience of “being upside down in a kayak in cold water.”
2. Washburn, Falmouth, Mass. Our cheerful bartender, James, at first inaccurately described these as West Coast oysters, but a quick Google search—plus Greg’s knowledge of New England kayaking destinations—revealed their true home as an island off the coast of Cape Cod. “There are lots of coves and inlets you can paddle into,” said Greg, who went on to explain that in order to get one of the 10 campsites on this island, part of the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, you have to apply two-years in advance. The taste? Salty at first. Strong depth in the middle with overtones of seaweed. “It’s almost like a meat,” said Greg. Agreed.
4. Wellfleet, Mass. My hometown fave. “Almost hot-salty,” said Greg, that “faded into sweet.”
5. East Beach, R.I. A tiny squirt of lemon rode atop the crisp salty flavors. For some reason the image of old-fashioned inflatable canvas rafts comes to mind. In a good way.
6. Brewster, Mass. Salty-sweet with a touch of zinc, and an almost tannic mouth-feel. (Sorry to get all wine-metaphory on you.)