Last night was the Oyster Fest put on by an Oyster Recovery foundation. The organization recycles oyster shells from restaurants and oyster bars and created the improved habitats that allow for the explosion of Maryland oyster farms we are seeing today. Last night I got to try somewhere between 20 and 30 farms’ products and all I can say is Maryland has an amazing range of oysters.
First thing is the range of brininess. Some of the oysters were waterlike and had almost no brine character. While these oysters tended to have a rich meaty texture, they were too bland for me. One farm did something interesting. They split their ownters by size which means age. The larger, older oysters had more of a briny character and were some of my favorites while the small ones were forgettable.
There were some farms that had oysters with a dark funk that was actually very tasty once you adapted your expectations to the pungency of the oyster. Johnson Oyster Company was perhaps my favorite. There were two farms located only 2 miles from each other on the same bay and their oysters were my overall favorites as they balanced the funk vs sweetness best. The fact that I chose those two, not knowing about their locations, shows that terroir is part of oysters.
But the most fun shellfish there was not an oyster, but a local bay scallop from Baywater. They also had one of my favorite oysters but they ran out of them early. I did major damage to the scallop supply. Baywater Seafood
I am hoping that more of these local oysters will find their features on some of the local oyster haunts in Baltimore. But for our early bird tickets which were $85 each, we got to stuff ourselves with oysters, enjoy a couple of beers and cocktails, and enjoy the grounds of the B & O railway museum. We will need to plan a return visit sans oysters to enjoy the museum.
But there is something so decadent about ending up the night saying that “I can’t eat another oyster!”