Monday, April 2, 2012

Island Creek Oysters & More at Local 149

I got my oyster cherry popped last Monday at Local 149 in South Boston. I was there for the 13th Annual ALLocal Dinner to benefit the Boston Local Food Program. So many of my friends love oysters, but they've always intimidated me. So before I could slurp the slimy mollusk, I slurped down some local Greylock Gin in 149's Aviator, a delicious cocktail with fresh lemon and a luxardo maraschino. James enjoyed a Jefferson with bourbon, local honey, angostura bitters, mint, and citrus over a bit too much ice. Both cocktails were fantastic.
Local Gin Martini with Lemon and Bourbon Honey Bitters Mint and Citrus over Ice
We each went for refills. 
I didn't want to just eat my first oyster at Local 149. One of the reasons I was excited to try my first one there was that they were serving the acclaimed Island Creek Oysters. I wanted my first oyster to be a great experience all around, and CJ, AKA @Oyster_Dude made sure that it was by giving me the full story behind what makes Island Creek Oysters so delicious (hint: location location location). I learned so much about oyster farming from CJ, who encouraged me to chew just a little to unlock the sweetness. I was a little weary, since I got a lot of advice to just swallow my first oyster whole, but CJ is the expert, so I went for it and it wasn't bad at all!
Shucking Fresh Oysters
CJ Shucking Oysters
Local accoutrements included apple cider vinegar and juniper berry mignonette, greenhouse tomato cocktail fresca, and micro wasabi sprouts.

Island Creek Oyster Boat

If you're as curious about oyster farming as I was and want to know more about where oysters come from, how they grow, and what makes a good oyster a good oyster, check out Island Creek's 20-step slide show! CJ hand selected my first oyster to make sure I got a good one (they were all good!).

naked oyster on the half shell on ice
My first oyster!
I was a bit apprehensive, but that local gin soothed my nerves just enough to make this one go down easy.
my first time eating an oyster. delicious oyster.
Down Goes Oyster #1!
LOVE!!! I went back for oh... I don't know... maybe 5 more, sampling the different accoutrements, before we were summoned to our seats for dinner. The table was cute. Check out the chalk.
simple local centerpiece of local daffodils in a local hard apple cider bottle
Even the centerpieces were local!
I met some awesome people during dinner including Jo Anne Shatkin, CEO of clf ventures and Dr P.K. Newby, a local Nutrition Scientist and fellow food blogger who teaches at BU. The ALLocal Dinners provide some great networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing local, sustainable food. :-)

Boston Local Food Program Speech
The speeches at this ALLocal Dinner were shorter and sweeter than usual.
We also heard from some of the folks from SBN and from Local 149 during our meal. There's lots of exciting stuff in the works! For dinner, there was a choice of bone-in free range short ribs with a corn whiskey and Boston honey glaze with smashed white potatoes and sunchokes for the meat-eaters or a farmer's breakfast for dinner of poached eggs, crispy sunchokes, greenhouse tomatoes, sweet corn, and camembert cheese. Since James doesn't eat oysters, meat, or eggs, he got a salad made of all local greens and greenhouse tomatoes. It was different!

Baby kale and wasabi sprouts were some of the greens in this salad.
My eggs were delicious, though I found the sunchokes to be a little under-cooked. The flavors of this dish were interesting. The cheese added a real kick.

Poached Eggs with Sunchokes, Tomatoes, Wasabi Sprouts, and Cheese
Poached Farm Fresh Eggs with Greenhouse Tomatoes, Wasabi Sprouts, Sunchokes, Corn, and Cheese
For dessert, we had sassafras gelato with smokey goat cheese. It was yummy!

delicious sassafras gelato with goat cheese and berries

All of the ingredients for this dinner were sourced in New England. Some of the suppliers included:
Longfellow Creamery/Second Chance Farm in Avon, ME
Eva's Garden in South Dartmouth, MA
Thatcher Farm in Milton, MA
Vermont Butter and Creamery
Sunrise Orchards in VT
Boston Honey Company in Holliston, MA

PS: While writing this post, I did some research on oyster etiquette. If you're interested in further reading on the topic, check out this Vanity Fair article.