Monks Cove Oysters, The First Oyster Farm In Town

Monks Cove Oysters

Hosted by farmers Jenny and Patrick Ross on an out-of-the-norm overcast day, Monks Cove Oysters was the second stop on Julie Qiu of In A Half Shell and my Cape Cod Oyster Tour. After seeing the WiAnno Oysters farm and before exploring Duxbury Bay Shellfish and Wellfleet Puffers Petites, we were extremely excited about seeing how their smaller two-person husband and wife process differed from the larger farm we had just come from.

Monks Cove Oysters

The truly exciting part of meeting with Pat and Jenny is that they are so passionate about what they are doing. Both working full time jobs unrelated to oysters, they were compelled into this world three years ago after being captivated by the concept of eating and growing locally sustainable oysters and were then pushed over the edge by a beautiful magazine feature about Moon Shoal Farms. For Pat and Jenny, this was a very natural progression. Pat having grown up in Cape Cod loving seafood and Jenny from the Connecticut who admits that she herself doesn’t eat oysters but loves the oyster farming process, hard work and coastal lifestyle that she grew up with.

Monks Cove Oysters

Because they are learning as they go, doing their research, taking “shellfish farming” courses—that gave them very few specifics noting that every farmer’s process is different and that they would have to flush out the basics to really find a routine that works for them and their environmental surroundings—and filing for town licenses as they are the first and only oyster farmers in the area, they are the perfect window into the beginning stages of this oyster farming process.

“One thing led to another and we were like ‘oh my god, we’re doing this!'” — Jenny Ross.

Monks Cove Oysters

This oyster-centric lifestyle of theirs began three years ago when they were handed their first bag of seeds with the warning, “learn from your mistakes”. Somewhat intimidated while also excited, their new lives officially began—they became oyster parents. Their first year out the gate, a rust tide came in and killed off roughly two-thirds of their farm. A bad omen, yes, but they kept moving forward.

Monks Cove Oysters

Onward and outward, Julie and I boarded the Ross’ fully restored, as they called, “ramshackle operation” of a fishing boat that they bought cheaply from Long Island and had delivered to their Gray Gables home, to go tour their oyster farm (the boat was quite lovely. They did an incredible job restoring it).

Monks Cove Oysters

Here’s the exciting part! Fast forwarding through three years of their hard work, they have two food bloggers—Julie and I—on their boat rapidly taking photos of their first-year-to-market oysters.

Monks Cove Oysters

It was absolutely incredible to be some of the first people to sit back and taste their ready-to-market three inch in diameter oysters.

They are quite beautiful! That burnt terra-cotta clay color—like the green in the WiAnno Oysters—comes from the algae growing in their waters and clinging to their cages.

Monks Cove Oysters

After a ten minute boat ride, we arrived at their oyster farm. Being that their farm is consistently submerged never being exposed due to the ebbs and flows of the tides, from the boat, it simply looks like a series of buoys floating on the surface of the bay. I’m sure several people paddle their kayaks and breeze by on their motor boats daily without knowing what lays underneath them—don’t worry, that doesn’t harm the oysters in any which way.

Monks Cove Oysters

Using a very intensive manual process, the couple sprang into work. Knowing exactly where and which cage they wanted to bring on board, they attached it’s rope to the crank on their boat and used their physical strength to pull it up (this is what you are seeing in the earlier photos).

Monks Cove Oysters

Once the cage was on board, and any oyster enemies—specifically, small hermit crabs—were discarded, we were able to see a variety of life-stages of their oysters. It’s exciting to see the oysters that will be market size next year while thinking that a year ago their largest oysters were that big.

Monks Cove Oysters

From the farm, we headed to their floating in-the-works work station to shuck and eat oysters paired with some of their favorite beers all the while hoping to run into their often on-looking seal friend, “Monkey”. When not farming, Pat likes to brew his own beers, so you know the ones he selected went perfectly with their oysters.

Monks Cove Oysters

I’m a bit obsessed with their unique homey touches; in this case, I’m specifically referring to their shabby chic napkins—being that I love to incorporate patterned napkins into my recipe photos, I literally raved on and on about them until I got their full story which stands as a perfect testament to this couples’ drive to get the job not only done but executed with finesse.

Monks Cove Oysters

These homey napkins were used on their wedding day. Wanting all of their guests to have their own unique Anthropologie-esque mix matched napkin, Jenny set forth to make them herself. Using retro beautiful fabrics stashed away in a beloved family members basement, Jenny sewed each napkin one-by-one making sure that they all had a tag with the couple’s wedding date on them—like I said, “obsessed”!

Monks Cove Oysters

These oysters are just as truly and uniquely their own. My traveling companion Oyster Aficionado Julie Qiu noted them as, “29ppt and fantastic texture. Nice earthy minerality with a ‘sea bean’ finish (or so we suspect)”.

Monks Cove Oysters

Anchors down and back on land via their fantastic purple lens glasses clad neighbor Wayne’s dock, we persuaded Pat and Jenny to take us to their favorite neighborhood restaurant Lobster Trap, that they had been raving about all day, about for a drink.

Monks Cove Oysters

In going there so frequently and now having friends that work there, they had the perfect connection for their next big step, getting their oysters in the market! In fact, the week after we left their farm, their oysters would be featured on the menu! How exciting! Congratulations!

Monks Cove Oysters

And to think, three years earlier, this was all beginning with a passion and an inspiring magazine feature!

With a quick stop at the seafood market to pick up some pre-dinner crab and seafood dip snacks and some fresh lobster, we headed back to the Ross’ home.

Monks Cove Oysters

Over cocktails, wine and of course beer, we awaited the smoker to heat up so we could sample some of their oysters grilled with Pat’s homemade barbecue sauce recipe.

Monks Cove Oysters

FYI, I’ll be featuring his recipe just as soon as I get my hands on some Monks Cove Oysters!

Monks Cove Oysters

Pat’s barbecue sauce has one star ingredient, honeyit’s what their three-year-old niece calls “dog sauce”—the honey that comes out of the bear-shaped bottle which she identified as a dog. (so cute! And a very delicious touch!)

Monks Cove Oysters

My version of the recipe will of course be adapted for all of my grill-less New York friends so it will differ slightly from the original. With some tips and tricks from Pat up my sleeve to make sure it’s just as delicious, I know you’ll love it! That, aaannndd I have the “BBQ Oyster Sauce – Test 2″ edition to work with!! So, stay tuned!

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Exploring The Small Plates & Big Bites At Garment District

Garment District by UrbanSpace

What I love about UrbanSpace is that their events incorporate the known vendors that you crave while also encouraging you to explore new up-and-coming caterers whom are yet to open their own brick and mortars. Running from September 15th – October 17th 11AM – 9PM daily, UrbanSpace Garment District, overlapping with a couple select fan faves with stands at Mad Sq Eats, like Roberta’s (whose store I still need to make my way to) also features a whole new collection of pop-ups to explore! Yes, you can do both festivals and thoroughly enjoy the similar styles while parusing entirely unique vendors.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

It always blows my mind how many different foods come in spherical form. Stand after stand, from meatballs, to rice balls to my new obsession with Mimi & Coco’s “Teriyaki Balls”, there are yummy balls everywhere (there has to be a more appetizing way to say that)!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Where Japanese street food meets New York style, I had to try the “Takoyaki”, meaning “octopus”, menu option. With giant chunks of octopus encased in gooey dough in a little paper container in my hands, these were incredibly delicious! Coco notes that many New Yorkers fear the octopus option. Goodness, please don’t, it’s out-of-this-world! If you really just can’t, don’t worry, there are shrimp, chicken sausage, and potato options, too.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Back to the “Takoyaki”, it feels alive as you watch the tempura flake topping react to the heat and go from long bands to twisted compressed pieces—almost like a fortune teller miracle fish. If you can only make it to Garment District once, you must add this to your list of “musts” it’s too flavorful and texturally exciting to miss!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Still wanting to sample some more savory eats before delving into the sweets, and curious about all of these ball pop-ups on my list I made my way down the line of vendors towards Café Patoro.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

These cheesy tapioca balls are simply put, the perfect little snack! Going in with the intent to have a bite of each to make sure I saved room for other vendors on my list, I ate all three in full. So good! I had the original, jalapeño and pesto. While all clearly delicious, pesto is my favorite! Try it!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

On my way back up the line, Amali caught my eye. For a brief moment I was truly confused. You see, I love Amali the upscale Greek restaurant where I obsess over their eggplant appetizer—the logo was the same, so I had to inquire. Can you believe they took the eggplant off of the menu?! I was sincerely saddened by this news. Then sheer happiness struck me as I met the owner James Mallios. He immediately wrote his personal information down for me while saying “call me twenty-four hours before you come in and I’ll have that eggplant dish on your table for you—every time”. I’m certain I just made my new best friend! Thank you so much!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

This is Amali’s “Dromo” meaning “street” in Greek. I’m told that the company is experimenting with the concept of bringing gourmet ingredients to a street style cuisine at fairs like these. It works! Making sure to allow their chicken to sit for the necessary time it needs to marinate in yogurt, their chicken gyro is incredible! One of my girl friends took a bite, wrapped up anything that remained and put it in her purse to save for dinner—yeah, that good! Note to self: I have to go back to the restaurant for dinner again, asap!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Of course I continued to make more great friends along the way! Brushing off the metaphorical spiderwebs on my spanish—not that I needed to because Viviana Lewis’ english is perfect—we chatted a bit about her and her co-founded company Palenque.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Colombian arepas with a New York styled eco-friendly organic twist. After cooking this way forever, the Palenque company was born to share their great flavors, whether from their truck or this stand, with all of New York. Replacing the traditional corn and water based patty is their version made from either quinoa, brown rice or flax seed. Toppings like the chicken or the portobello with arugula, cilantro and vegan chipotle mayo dressings are super tasty and truly beautiful.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

So beautiful, a mini photo shoot had to happen! ¡Qué hermoso y delicioso!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Time for sweets! And yes, I know you know Wafels & Dinges. So, you know why I had to stop—that and how could I not talk to these two gorgeous faces?

Garment District by UrbanSpace

With those signature Belgium waffles as your base, it’s hard to go wrong. Having eaten them hundreds of times, I had them surprise me with their choice dinges. Ummm, let’s pause life for a second to thank everyone involved in making that speculoos spread into an ice cream flavor. Good lord, that was incredible! Can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before—remedied that, holy wow!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Naturally, after the first bite and the prominent wow-factor expression my face, I had to share it with my friends. Like magic, it disappeared!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

On to explore Billy’s Bakery which I’m told I should have known by now—that  only made me more excited about diving in and eating their cupcakes.

Garment District by UrbanSpace

They highly recommended the special of the day banana bread with Nutella frosting. Immediately, I fell in love with that frosting and not because it’s one of my favorite flavors but because of its consistency and perfect sweetness. I’m going to have to visit their shop and try them all!

Garment District by UrbanSpace

Now, I love the story behind Batter & Cream! Once upon a time, founder and owner Liz Fife worked a full time job in finance that ate away at her. One day, fueled by passion with a pinch of hatred, she walked into her boss’ office and quit on the spot. No plans for what was next, she spent the next six months trying to figure out life. It was during this time she discovered her love for baking. There, the seed was planted and so were born the awesome mini whoopie pies of Batter & Cream. The love for food successfully inspires and changes another now super happy life. Cheers to that!

Go and explore these vendors for yourself! It’s a such a fun and yummy way to spend the afternoon!

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Taste Talks: My Notes & Takeaways

Taste Talks

Taste Talks is an exciting three-day food festival hosted by founders and brothers Daniel Stedman and Scott Stedman in 2013 in both Brooklyn and Chicago. This past weekend, I went to the one in Brooklyn and loved it. First thoughts, it’s a great way to be reaffirmed about what you do know, be confirmed about thoughts you weren’t a hundred percent on, learn approaches to specific situations you hadn’t considered, hear personal stories from people who have swiftly gone through it already and shake hands while making connections to people you never expected to have access to.

Taste Talks

There are three distinct formats to this festival for the food obsessed: panels of expert speakers from writers to chefs, A Future Food Expo with exciting new-to-market finds, and a super delicious All-Star BBQ where head chefs and restaurant owners make small bite samples of a dish that they feel best represents them.

Eighteen moderated panels were spread across the Wythe Hotel Screening Room and two of the Kinfolk Studios. Several overlap so it is impossible to see them all in full so—note to self—it’s best to go with a game plan in mind and to get to each one early as you may end up hearing “there is only standing room available”—needless-to-say hosting a food event in Williamsburg will get a large response.

Taste Talks

I made it into four great panels—two where I got seats! The others I either stood in the back or sat on the floor in the front. Note book in hand, and pen after pen running out of ink, I have lots of fun takeaways and one-liners to hold you over till the next festival.

Here’s a taste of the talks:

Taste Talks

10:30AM | Do Restaurant Reviews Matter?

Panelists: Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta’s; Ruggy Joesten, Yelp; Sam Sifton, NYT; Sonia Kapadia, Taste Savant; Jocelyn Mangan, OpenTable

Moderator: Adam Sachs, Editorial Director Tasting Table

Aside from a knee-jerk response from Sam Sifton—“Do blogs still exist?” —that felt like a jab to the heart, my expectations for being either insulted or invalidated by this panel simply did not happen. The discussion went more in the direction of who is writing the review, what rights they have, and the impact that comes from them.

“Human beings eat three meals a day, who’s to say their voice doesn’t matter” – Ruggy Joesten.

“I’ve been walking since I was one but can’t teach modern dance” — Adam Sachs

This back and forth had me saying “yes!” to Ruggy Joesten like there was no other valid response and then immediately saying “thank you” (of course all in my head) to Adam Sachs for validating the fact that, well, what I do can’t simply be done by anyone with a laptop.

Multiple types of reviewers were brought to mind. In thinking about it, I suppose I find myself being a hybrid of them.  There’s the savvy diner who makes repeat visits to restaurants before coming to an aggressively positive or negative opinion and there’s the, what I will coin, “pocket reviewer” where upon first reaction tweet or Instagram about a restaurant. To an extent the latter is valuable.  Say I’m stalking food photos on Instagram and am drawn to one’s beauty, that will compel me to add that restaurant to my scrolling list of “where to eat next”.  It’s also a great way, of what was so cleverly noted by Jocelyn Mangan as, “digital food spying” where you sneakily use your phone under the table to figure out what to order. Her advice to the reviewer (of which I’m so obviously and embarrassingly so not taking into consideration with this article) is the same advice she was given when starting out: “if you are sitting on a bar stool with a friend and had five minutes to describe a restaurant, what would you say?” Mainly noting to keep it susinct for the majority of people have short attention spans.

My biggest reservations when starting out on my path with Coffee & Champagne were the looming questions of “why do my words matter?” and “who am I to think that I have the right to share them?” Restaurant owners put so much of themselves into their establishments. For that reason alone, I have consistently aimed to shine light onto the positives while noting where I believe there is room for growth all while promising myself that I will always be open for as many return visits as necessary to encourage me to update my review.

After all, while you maybe sitting back and writing a quick review on your desired platform thinking “who’s going to see this anyway?”, note this: the owner is. Every last review. And with each one they are either pridefully nodding their heads or harping while trying to figure out workable resolutions. Unless, that is, as Ruggy Joeston both honesty and funnily notes, “if it’s the guy who can’t spell, I can’t trust his opinion”. Every thought holds weight in such a digital world where we are able to share our words without necessarily attaching it to our physical beings.

The idea here is to take a step back and be a bit more objective because words are often a spark and it is incredibly easy to be negative in a place where you, on a personal level, won’t be affected by the repercussions that ignite. As for the notes on this panel, I’ll leave you with Sam Sifton’s words, “restaurants are culture and culture matters”.

Taste Talks

12PM | From Indie Bands to Grandpa’s Buik: What Is Buzz?

Panelists: Christine Muhlke; Executive Editor of Bon Appétit and the Co-author of “Manresa” with David Kinch and “On the Line” with Eric Ripert; Kate Krader, Restaurant Editor at Food & Wine magazine; Ken Friedman, Co-owner of The Spotted PigThe Breslin Bar & Dining Room, The John Dory Oyster Bar, Salvation Taco and Tosca Cafe; and Craig Kanarick, CEO of Mouth.com

Moderator: Mario Batali

After a brief introduction from moderator Mario Batali that ended with the words, “now you know who all of my friends are”,  the conversation about types of “buzz” and how they benefit or harm a company began.

The first note agreed upon is that Buzz is best when organically generated. Buzz becomes more useful and validated when it is from word of mouth and the world of social media and less the public relations behind the company. The distinction here being that PR is making promises on behalf of the restaurant making it feel like they are aiming to sell you something. In the words of Mario Batali,”Buzz only brings the horse to the water” which begs the question of the authenticity of the buzz all together.

Yes, buzz can bring people through the doors but it’s keeping true to those initial promises that will breed a return customer—one who will turn around and recommend the restaurant to several friends. Ideally, a restaurant’s buzz would under-promise and over deliver to which restauranteur Ken Friedman said, “it’s hard because everyone around you is making promises” making it difficult to make your words really count without embellishment or spilling all of the proverbial beans.

On that note, extensive buzz ends up becoming “hype” and the problems of having to live up to it which leads to the problem of waning interest and appeal. People get bored, “I already know about it” Christine Muhlke notes—instead of “scanning for chatter”, it’s far more exciting to happen upon a restaurant, like Roberta’s, based on a friend’s recommendation of it being a little pizza place built out of a refurbished garage that “you must try”.

Returning back from lots of non-sequitur about Ken Friedman being ancient and in turn hard of hearing—neither of which are the case—and how Bon Appétite can’t have interns “because some douche at the New Yorker ruined it for them”, we circled back to the moral of the story as Mario Batali says, “The best advice I can give is, ‘be yourself'”.

And to the restaurant owner:

“Make good food and don’t turn the music up too loud!” — Ken Friedman

Taste Talks

1:30PM | Reporting, Writing and Eating: How Sam Sifton Covers the Food News for the New York Times

Interviewer: Gabrielle Hamilton chef/owner of Prune

Question: What is journalism?

Answer: “Asking questions of scary people and writing it down” — Sam Sifton

Taste Talks

My favorite part of this interview came at the very end when Gabrielle Hamilton opened up the doors for a future debate between her and Sam Sifton in response to his comment, “what we mean by ‘cook this recipe’ is cook this recipe with the best available ingredients” going further to say the recipe doesn’t need to dictate the precise ingredients but instead of using “Morton’s Coarse Sea Salt”, the words “sea salt” should be indicative enough. To which she remarked, and I paraphrase, that that’s like saying you can simply swap that semicolon with that colon. I would love to see that debate!

But there was so much before that moment. There were several “subtle” “shameless” shout outs to the new New York Times app, NYT Cooking, which will digitally archive New York Times recipes dating back to 1981 honoring the great flavors of the past while noting that “we look back because we are looking forward”—all recipes have been tested and retested to make certain that they are as delicious as they sound on paper. I love the idea of honoring older exciting flavor combinations from times where you wouldn’t expect cooks and chefs to be playing in the kitchen.

From sharper notes like “‘Foodie’ is a diminutive term for a club that scares me” and thinking of food as “not a business opportunity but a cultural opportunity” where food writers are better educated through world travel and life experience to the more sarcastic tag team responses, like:

Audience Question: “What do you see as the next big trend in food?”

Sam Sifton answers whilst making a large hand gesture: “Just fucking huge radishes” 

Gabrielle Hamilton’s add on: “from the Ukraine.”

Taste Talks

4PM | Daniel Krieger: Expert Food Photography for Everyday Cooks

From so many thought provoking panels, it was nice to have an educational how-to speaker. With such great successes with his photography in the world of food having shot for Eater, New York Times, Food & Wine amongst several others, his tips, tricks, demonstrations, strategies, likes and dislikes were all greatly appreciated.

Some of Daniel Krieger’s tips and tricks:

1. Don’t assume you have the perfect shot when setting out to shoot, “experiment maybe try different angles”.

2. Find the symmetry in your image or conversely work the rule of thirds. The idea being to have structure to your image’s layout.

3. In dimly lit restaurant situations: “so if you grab like a few iphones” from friends and light your dish from multiple angles you will even out and brighten your photo.

4. Best case scenario you are able to shoot in natural lighting.

5. Steady your camera before taking a photo. Leaning and stretching your arm over your friend’s plate will not get you the best results.

Daniel Krieger’s personal aesthetic and approach to his own photography:

1. Use a macro lens at a F2-F2.8 to get finite details with a blurred out background.

2. Shoot from a completely parallel, without any slight angles, birds eye view.

3. I like “harsh lighting with lots of shadows”—lots of contrast.

4. “I like symmetry”.

 

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WiAnno Oysters

WiAnno Oysters

A day after a week long road trip along the route 1 of the California coastline—Los Angelas to San Francisco—I get a text message from my girl friend Oyster Aficionado Julie Qiu of the blog In A Half Shell saying, “$56 RT on JetBlue From JFK to Hyannis (cape cod) from 8/20-8/26. Any interest?”

My response: “Were you planning an oyster eating of sorts?”

Talk about the biggest understatement of all time! “Let’s do this! Can you buy my ticket since I’m out on the street and I’ll Venmo the money to you ASAP” (admittedly, that was the perfect example of NYC-on-the-go style).

WiAnno Oysters

And we were off on our adventure from our homes to theirs where Julie came from the perspective of an expert and I that of an oyster novice. It wasn’t clear to me in that moment that by the end of our trip, I would know more than so many others about oysters. Before going, I loved eating them and noted that some were more briny than others as I tipped my invisible hat to myself while patting my own back for knowing the word “briny” and using it in proper context.

WiAnno Oysters

Now, I’ve had the rare opportunity of spending days with oyster farmers at WiAnno Oysters, Monks Cove Oysters, Duxbury Bay Shellfish, Wellfleet Puffers Petite and Mac’s Seafood Distributor, learning their processes, seeing how they differ, how the growers themselves differ, and most importantly where the oysters that appear on my plate in a restaurant come from, get their names and how they are unique.

WiAnno Oysters

From the plane, we were greeted by WiAnno Founder and Ambassador Marion Kaiser. She would be our guide for the next two days as we learned the very thorough and elite process behind their delicious oysters. After a quick detour for a bite, we headed to the home of Oyster Farmer Al and his wife Robyn Surprenant (we were more than a bit starstruck to hear that Robyn was in one of the greatest scenes of the classic movie Pretty Woman. She was the aweful shopping clerk that wouldn’t sell clothing to Julia Roberts. “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”).

WiAnno Oysters

We dropped off our bags and headed to the backyard marina where we met expert oyster farmer David Ryan. Immediately, we were deeply immersed into his oyster growing process. Starting with his top secret process for his youngest oysters—forgive me, I can’t say more.

WiAnno Oysters

From there, we were off onto a boat where we would get a tour of his always submerged farming area in the West Bay. These oysters, once of a certain age and size, are placed directly onto the mud to grow and get the necessary nutrients to finish their development. Typically, they get some great coloring from this process—in this case, a greenish tint—that is influenced by the algae and habitat around them.

WiAnno Oysters

Not optimal fishing time, we sipped on some chardonnay while shucking and sampling some of the delicious oysters that they had on ice. This was my first time ever shucking an oyster—yes, on the back of a boat that was purchased for a dollar on the West Bay surrounded by experts (talk about a perfect memory). Aside from initial instruction, I learned that David and Marion always like to flip the oyster after cutting it from the shell because when you do it right, it’s prettier.  Being someone who thoroughly appreciates the importance of the aesthetic of foods, this stuck with me, as I like most people eat with my eyes first.

WiAnno Oysters

It was at this point that David jumped into the water and hand-picked several oysters for us to taste at their absolute freshest. If a smaller one—or what they playfully call “chickas” or “putbacks”—snuck into his hand, they got, well, put back into the mud to continue growing. Marion, being an expert on all that is seafood, joyously explained to us what she tells those who ask her if they should eat farmed seafood—and I love this!

” I say, well, do you eat wild cow?”—Marion Kaiser

That one will stick with me and make me smile every time it crosses my mind! (the next day, we drove by a Ben and Jerry’s with a cardboard cut out of their signature cow standing outside of their storefront. I quickly said “pull over, Marion! There’s your wild cow! It’s time to hunt!” Hehehe.)

WiAnno Oysters

From water to hand, we enjoyed the oysters that Julie described as “lovely brininess (27ppt), rich full bodied earthy and nutty flavors, fruity/sweet finish”. We must have eaten them by the dozens.

WiAnno Oysters

As with all great company, conversations are continuously flowing. Naturally, I had to know where this unique-to-me “WiAnno” name came from and from all of the names why did this one get the honor of being associate with these oysters.

WiAnno Oysters

Simply put, the name WiAnno comes from the name of the town that the oysters are farmed on. Wanting to know a bit more, I explored and cross referenced Wikipedia with the WiAnno Club’s website to get a few more details to satisfy my peaked interest in the history of the namesake of both this town and its oysters.

WiAnno, has a long history dating back to the 1600s. Years ago, today’s Osterville, Massachusetts was known as “Oysterville” due to it’s abundance of oysters in what is now know as the Nantucket Sound. In the 1664, a piece of Oysterville was purchased and segmented off into today’s WiAnno. Much like the name “Osterville” which has adapted over the years it’s more phonetic word, WiAnno was intially “Iyannough” to honor Native American leader who showed compassion for a Pilgrim onboard the Mayflower during the settlement at Plymouth in 1621 whose son had run off. Iyannough along with his tribe helped to recover the boy leaving a lasting impression of kindness and courtesy which has been reciprocated with the immortalizing of his name.

WiAnno Oysters

Filled with oysters from the boat (though I felt like I could stand there and eat them forever) we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner at the Hyannis Yacht Club where the chef would serve us WiAnno Oysters straight, fried, and in what we coined “pizza” form.

From bay to bowl, the oysters were perfect! Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn’t. With a mishap, which couldn’t have been better orchestrated, a bowl of the wrong oysters appeared on our table. By sight and taste, these did not compare. As Julie so perfectly noted, “they hit one note”, meaning they simply fell flat in comparison (womp, womp).

WiAnno Oysters

The following morning, I was up and running before 6am and then on the boat coffee in hand to see how the farmers started collected their morning oysters. Using this bag with a rake on the end that is suspended by a pulley system, they collected several oysters at a time from the same area of the bay where David had jumped in to hand select them for us to eat the day before.

WiAnno Oysters

Every morning, powering their boats in front of Bill Koch’s mansion, they fill up numerous crates with oysters and bring them back to the marina to store on their refrigerated truck which they will then bring to their distributor.

WiAnno Oysters

In the afternoon they visit the part of their farm where the oysters are fully exposed during the low tide—when the tide comes back in, they are fully submerged under nine-and-a-half feet of water.

WiAnno Oysters

The process for these oysters are a bit different from the morning’s farming. These oysters vary in age. The younger ones are kept in plastic mesh bags in risen trays while the larger closer to market size of three inches oysters are let out of the bags to sit and grow directly on the trays.

WiAnno Oysters

The bags are lined with floats so that when the water rushes in at the higher tides, the oysters are suspended allowing their shells to form a more natural rounded bowl-like shape—if they were always sitting flat on the harder surface of these cages, they would tend to grow flatter. David’s note about this came out in, well, it became a “that’s what she said” moment.

“I always get excited about a good bottom”—David Ryan

Ha! Julie and I, armed with note pads, immediately noted the line because there was absolutely no way the words that caused everything to pause, everyone to blush and then laugh endlessly would not be repeated.

WiAnno Oysters

As the tide flushes in and out twice a day, it allows for the necessary nutrients to be supplied to the oysters in order for them to feed and grow. It then comes down to the farmers to keep an eye on the trays making sure that each oyster has enough room to thrive; should they be too close together, one may get all of the food not allowing the next to get enough which would cause it either not to grow or even die. This care and attention the farmers dedicate to nurturing the oysters’ development is what is know as “husbandry”. From speaking with David, this is the most important and crucial of all the details. It’s what makes their oysters so consistent and delicious.

WiAnno Oysters

Now, I don’t quite think we’ve grasped how many oysters were enjoyed here. After standing in the rising water and looking at how beautiful they were wishing you could stand there and eat them all, we headed back to the house to find Marion waiting with wine, champagne, and oysters in the backyard. Such an incredible finish to our second and last day on the WiAnno farm. The four of us chatted about all of our learnings and experiences while sipping champagne and slurping oysters as the sun set over the marina—picture perfect!

WiAnno Oysters

Of course, I made sure to ask them each for an oyster recipe. Naturally, the response I would hear repeated from every farmer on our trip was that oysters are best when raw. Purists, with which I whole-heartedly agree.

WiAnno Oysters

And still, when around so many oysters all of the time, I knew that on the bluest of moons, they must play with them. Whew, they do! And once I get my hands on some WiAnno Oysters, I will make and share these recipes (stay tuned)! For now, here’s a quick oyster topping that Marion got from Julia Child and loves to hold you over: lemon and coarse black pepper—it was incredible!

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Kale Baked Eggs

This is one of my favorite ways to start the work day! It’s all about the seamless timing. You see, I take the two minutes to prep this dish and then put it in the oven. Twenty minutes later, I am dressed for the day and sitting and eating a healthy and super delicious homemade breakfast! You’ll love it!

Kale Baked Eggs

INGREDIENTS (yields 1 serving)

Kale (4 large leaves)
Eggs (2)
Goat Cheese (1 tbsp)
Salt

Kale Baked Eggs

RECOMMENDED KITCHEN ITEMS

Cast Iron Server (14 oz)

Kale Baked Eggs

1. DO IT ALL: preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Using your hands, rip your kale leaves into smaller more manageable bite-sized pieces and put them into your cast iron server.

Crumble your goat cheese and sprinkle it over your kale.

Create a nest-like shallow bowl in the center of your kale (not all of the way to the bottom of the pan) and crack both of your eggs into it.

Sprinkle salt to your liking over your entire dish.

Put it in in the oven and let bake for 20 minutes—or until eggs are baked with a looser yolk and your kale is crisp.

That’s it! Eat and enjoy your morning!

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