What's the Crack on Row 34?
First thing's first. The Island Creek Oyster Dudes are supposedly a few couple of suave gents. They're borderline celebrity for a little city like Boston... and they own a license to print money, their bivalves are so damn delicious. If you want the inside scoop on them, ya'll ought to read the book Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm. Mil gracias to Erin Murray, who did what all of us corporate suits have dreamed of doing at some point.
Row 34 used to be an old steel factory, and it's kept the industrial charm. Large wooden beams, breezy atmosphere, big dome lights, tiled floors, minimal appeal... It's airy in there, and as opposed to the tight little pockets of the North End, Row 34 fits right in with the spacious area of Seaport. A new building pops up every time I blink in that burrough.
Oyster time. I usually like to order at least 3 of every oyster... You need a few to really catch the spirit of a varietal. But we got ambitious. :)
We kept it local with choices from Mass and Maine. My initial take on each one below!
Row 34, Duxbury MA
These bad boys, first to the left of the lemons above, were some version of sea salty that were pretty unique for the Duxbury oysters. Afterwards, I did a little research, and it looks like they emphasize their signature oyster by placing them on top of the vertical beds, which makes them more delicate, with a more mineral flavor. The oyster liquor wasn't heavy. It was light and soft, with a long, dwelling taste of the sea far after the slurp.
Island Creek, Duxbury, MA
Clockwise, the second to pair to the left of the Row 34's. Large ones, aren't they! The more familiar taste came in this pair. Sweet from the start, which clings to the gums, like a tart sensation. The lingering grip in the back of the mouth certainly gives you pause. Always one for the plate.
Aunt Dotty's, Saquish, MA
To be honest, I'm going to need to give these little ones a go again. I could do much distinguishing here, other than it's strong brine. I'll keep the intrigue alive until next time.
These little babes were all sorts of the word fresh. Once slurped, the oyster has a juicy burst in your mouth when you bit down. It wasn't as briny as Aunt Dotty's, but the liquor and the cool burst was quite sensational. My favorite oyster of the day.
I did some reading after trying Puffer's, and I thought it was very unique that they don't use hatcheries for their seed. They have made specially designed spat collectors, that have been coated with cement and lime (cement to catch and attach them, lime to help them build their shells).
Mookie Blues, Damariscotta River, ME
I slurped the first one and wow! My first reaction was that it was so savory. Aside from the fact that it is meaty, it's flavor gives quite the same feeling. It was creamy, less oceanic and briny than some of the others, yet still a great bit of salinity. Sweet finish. After a little reading, it's notable that these oysters are tumbled every 2 weeks, for stronger shells and a more even and consistent flavor.
We paired with a glass of Maison Matisco Saint Veran 2015. This was a French Burgundy Chardonnay. It's light, with a buttery sip to taste and a citrus finish. Notes of lime and a earthier than some Chards in my opinion. It was easy to drink with a number of different oyster flavors. Very complimentary.
To fill our bellies, we also had some plump mussels and a Salmon Rillete. I eat mussels the old fashioned way, by taking the first shell and using its hinge as a gripper for all the others. The broth was to die for; as always, we needed more bread.
My date, Vera and I. I am on the left; Miss V on the right.