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Jan 8, 2009 05:24 PM

Oyster Myths

In regards to the other myth thread I would like to highlight oyster myths.

I favour Wellfleet and Island Creek

However in the past year the only truly amazing oysters were those that I order at Caffe Bella in Randolph - Duxbury Oysters. They are always amazing and better than any I have had anywhere.

And I have tried Duxbury/Wellfleet/IslandCreek at many restaurants, the worst being on both occasions Skipjacks. Horrible Island creeks with an algea taste. I have had acceptable island creeks at Neptune, but no wow factor.

I honestly can't explain, but the happiest oyster experience in this past year have been my tried and true and worth the drive to Caffe Bella Duxbury Oysters, or shucking my own Island creek from Whole Foods.

I'm just not buying them anymore elsewhere. For now.

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  1. Well, you can buy Island Crek for $1 a pop during Happy Hour at Lineage....Same price as WF,but you don't have to shuck them...You do have to tip, but hey, a wood-fired roll, and a good winelist....

    5 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      Is there anywhere around here where you can get TOtten Virginica oysters?

      1. re: barleywino

        Are those the huge ones that Chinese restaurants steam with ginger and scallions (or black bean sauce)?

        1. re: whops

          don't know...those do seem pretty huge

      2. re: galleygirl

        thanks galleygirl, but that really doesn't address the premiss of this thread. I have had Island Creeks at many boston restaurants to very varying degrees of satisfaction, whether it be the oyster, the handling of the oyster , the temp of the oyster, or the shucker of the oyster I cannot say.

        All I can say is the only wow oysters were agian those I shucked off ice at WF and everytime I have ordered them at Caffe Bella in Randolph. Perhaps they have a private distributor, but they are always plump and briney and filled with the essence of the ocean and properly chilled and shucked perfectly so that not an ounce of seawater is lost.

        1. re: gyppielou

          You're right, I didn't read your post carefully enough. But to address that, the Island Creek oysters I've gotten at Lineage have been so good, I've ordered another plate as soon as I finished the first...

      3. Wouldn't it be great if the dominant myths were true: that oysters really are aphrodisiacs?

        More on topic for this thread, I'm sort of indifferent to eastern oysters (bland, bland, etc....) but love every pacific oyster I've tried.

        8 Replies
        1. re: steinpilz

          but have you had oysters in New Orleans

          I had to spit them out, sadly

          1. re: gyppielou

            This reminds me of David Vitter! Southern oysters, warm water oysters, have always struck me as suspicious/worrysome for some reason. I'm sure it's a deeply rooted anti-warm water bias... you know, I just don't trust those pints of pre-shucked oysters. Give me fresh, whole, oysters every day.

            1. re: gyppielou

              My one experience oysters in New Orleans and I thought they were the blandest thing I have ever eaten. No wonder they like to char them with garlic and parmesean.

            2. re: steinpilz

              See - I'm the opposite. I lived in WA state for 5 years, ate everything from the kumamotos to those huge ones (I know they were local, from the Puget Sound, but don't know if they had a name). I missed my Wellfleets. Maybe it's just what you grow up with, but the pacific ones were generally saltier, the big ones were certainly chewier, the kumamotos nice and sweet (but so tiny!), but none had the real oyster texture and taste you get in a plump Wellfleet. The Wellfleet liquor - when they refill after initially dumping them - is briny and super tasty - just right for the perfect oyster.

              I get my Wellfleets at the Walrus and the Carpenter in the North Market Food court in Fanueil Hall. I haven't been there in a while, to be honest, but it's been my favorite Wellfleet spot for years, and they've rarely let me down.

              1. re: applehome

                i think the huge ones from PUget sound were the TOtten Virginicas, good specimens were so creamy and beautiful...almost as nice as the Tomales bay oysters from north of San Fran

                1. re: barleywino


                  This is OT for this board but if you ever have the chance to get here, try it...small family bay over from Tomales....gorgeous spot.

                2. re: applehome

                  Your right about Walrus and Carpenter (Oyster Bar). The Wellfleets there are always good. But, I tred kumamotos for the first time this weekend at Kingfish Hall in Fanueil Hall and thought they were tremendous.

              2. I have had the same widely-variable experience with Duxbury Island Creek Oysters - some of the best of my life were at East Coast Grill and further noted as "very stressed" on the chalkboard which bartender explained was due to being in an area where tides vary widely and they have to hold on tighter and are therefore plumper/meatier - I like the story, but don't know if I buy it, but they were some of the best oysters EVER and subsequent Island Creeks have generally been really good but not truly memorable like those.

                Wellfleets seem to be pretty consistent in my experience.

                I find Neptune, Legal (yes, really thought the shucking at Park Square has been bad recently), East Coast Grill, Kingfish Hall and Summer Shack (one of the very few items I will order there - great shucking every time at Alewife) to be reliable to top notch spots for oysters.

                Most recent memorable oysters were months ago at Neptune - Glacier Bay from Alaska! Unique and wonderful.

                Also a fan of Fanny Bay from Vancouver Island but don't come across them often on the East Coast - they are huge, creamy, and amazing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rlh

                  I find the Wiannos to be a better more consistent oyster than the Island Creeks.

                2. where is the "myth" part of this post? you're simply stating where you've had good and bad island creeks. (which we know is a co-op from duxbury, right?)

                  oyster storage, handling, and proper shucking are major for good flavor, as is rapid turn-over.

                  99% of the oysters served around here are all virginicus. all the same kind. but like terroir for wine, where they grow is what makes them taste different.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I would have to say the lack of consistency in Island Creeks around Boston would have to be the handling of the oysters by place serving them. Having served Island Creeks for several years I have always found them to be extremely consistent.
                    For the record, there seems to be some confusion in the designation--Wellfleet, Island Creek, Blue Pointetc. While Island Creek is a collective of oyster farmers in Duxbury Harbor and the local estuary water/river that is organized and run by Skip, Shore and the boys, Wellfleet is a much more ambiguous term. Anybody who has been the to the Wellfleet oyster festival has seen the multiple farmers in the area in addition to the wild wellfleets available (interestingly there are no wild oysters in Duxbury only farmed). That means when you order a Welfleet oyster you could be eating an oyster produced by a variety of farmers. Also, "Duxbury" oysters are produced by a farmer that is not part of the Island Creek group of farmers. That all being said I would put in my two cents for "Bee's River" oysters out of Eastham as being the most consistent oysters that can be found around town-and so deliciously briny as well.

                    1. re: lovinlinecook

                      Duxbury Bay has cold water (as does any bay on the north side of cape cod) making it too cold for oysters to spawn on their own. Spawning causes stress. Island Creeks as well as "the other farmers oysters" have to be sewn like a crop. Oysters on the south side of Cape Cod and everything further south of that will produce different (read inferior) oysters.
                      The only time I'd avoid the local oysters is in the beginning of the summer when a warm current invades our area for a short time. Warm water also stresses the oysters building up shell and liquor instead of meat. Gyppielou ...What time of year were you eating the Island Creeks?

                      FWIW- there was a fun article about the IC driver in this months Improper Bostonian.

                      1. re: T.Clark

                        btw, oysters spawn in the summer months, whch is what really affects the texture. the water here never really gets all that warm, unlike gulf oysters. (yuk.)

                        1. re: T.Clark

                          North side too cold? Not sure I understand that. I've eaten "natural" oystahs all up and down the coast. Do you mean too cold for specific oysters?


                          1. re: T.Clark

                            I eat them all year long - months with r, months without. I only avoid them when the red tide sweeps in.

                            1. re: T.Clark

                              I was just about to post on the Improper article, but you beat me to it! Has more to do with the delivery driver than the oysters, but does mention a number of the restaurants carrying Island Creeks.

                              1. re: chevrelove

                                That's how he always introduces himself. I get a kick out of it. It's more of a pastime for him. I think he sells medical supplies.

                            2. re: lovinlinecook

                              I bet Caffe Bella gets their Duxbury Oysters from that other guy. Do you have a name?

                              1. re: gyppielou

                                Sorry George is all I know him by, Greek sounding last name. I think there's a little Hatfield and McCoy between the two. Don't see why his oysters wouldn't be close if not exactly the same as IC's. Haven't had "the other" guys oysters so I can't say for sure. Terroir war in Dux ?

                                A plug for Island Creek:

                                  1. re: almansa

                                    When you say it like that it doesn't sound so Greek.......;)

                            3. If you ever get to try a Fishers Island Oyster, you'll be spoiled for life

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                Fisher Island? These are not in my Geography of Oysters book! Can I find them locally? How about in RI?

                                Anyone ever had an Apalachicola? I'm curious.

                                My local favorites are still Island Creeks. My global favorite so far were Miyajimas out in Japan. From a street vendor, just roasted 'til the shell opens. To put it coarsely: big, warm, raw, slurp!

                                1. re: globalgourmand

                                  I just got that book and love it, so far. Fascinating stuff about oysters. What's the opinion on Moonstone Oysters - I dont see it mentioned.