Food News

Where to Find the Freshest Oysters in South Florida

A few weeks ago, at the start of September, I hit up a favorite

little oyster bar back in D.C. only to be served a dozen that bathed in

opaque milky liquor. Milky oysters aren't a sign that they're bad, but

it is a sign they're spawning: a sure bet they'll be thin and flaccid,

their flavor diminished. Since they were less-than-ideal, I sent them back.

Oyster season is one I adhere to religiously, despite

that they're safe to eat year-round. The old rule dictated that the season resides in months that end in r. With the introduction of nonspawning oysters, that rule has

gone by the wayside.


Yet according to Ryan and Travis Croxton, cousins behind Rappahannock River Oyster

Co. in the Chesapeake Bay, sticking to the old rule of seasonality is as much about the transporting of

oysters: moving crustaceans from warm waters to a cold fridge induces

stress, which also affects flavor, making them less plump and sweet.

Which is one reason why Longboards in West Palm doesn't yet stock

bivalves from the Gulf. "It's too warm to harvest them yet," said my

bartender. "We don't trust them yet."

This past Sunday night, I waited at the bar at Longboards as I watched a shucker open Prince Edward Island sweet Malpeques, Massachusetts

salty Wellfleets, and fruity Kumamotos from Northern California for my order. At $2.50 a piece -- 50 cents more than any place I'd get them

back in D.C. -- I was hoping Longboards' stock would be delightful.

And it was. A mixed dozen from cold waters smelled of the sea and basked in clear liquor elixir and a hit of lemon.

As the temperature cools up north and the oyster season progresses, I'm

looking forward to expanding my repertoire of bivalves and places to eat

them. Any suggestions for places to try?

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter. Follow me @melissamccart

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart