Rappahannock River Oyster
Courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster, LLC
About 140 miles away from the buzzing of DC, you’ll find a one lane gravel road in Toppings, VA that leads you to the serene Rappahannock river. Go an extra five miles out on the water, and you’ll find yourself right in the Chesapeake Bay. But what you might not realize as you’re enjoying the rush of wind against your face on a boat is that below the water are crops of thousands of some of the freshest and most delicious oysters.
After discovering that I had essentially developed a borderline addiction to the bivalve molluscs, I wanted to learn more about how they were raised and everything that went into getting an oyster from the water to a bed of ice at a local restaurant. So I made the trip out to Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC to check out what oyster aquaculture (aka oyster farming) is all about and the company’s tasting room, Merroir.
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’
Seafood, and more specifically oysters, is the name of the game with BlackSalt. The restaurant group is hosting an oyster tasting event at BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant this Saturday, November 12th from 3 to 5 PM.
The tasting is part of chef and owners Barbara and Jeff Black’s efforts to raise money for a state-of-the-art kitchen at the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center. The kitchen will help educate diabetes patients and their families about healthy cooking and how to manage a nutritious diet with diabetes. To date, the restaurant group has raised nearly 70 percent of its $200,000 fundraising goal.
The Oyster Tasting will feature more than a dozen oyster varieties from North America served raw on the half-shell, grilled, fried and more, along with wine pairings. Tickets to the tasting are $85 in advance or $95 at the door.
Enjoying a dozen oysters at Clyde's
In our ongoing quest to conquer the Omnivore 100 list, we come to #28, Oysters. It’s hardly a chore for me to kick back several dozen oysters. My love affair with the bivalves began as a child watching my grandfather stir up some homemade oyster stew, mesmerized by the delicate edges curling up in the cream. At some point as a teenager I dared my first raw bar, and the salty brine was instantly addicting. I’ve never strayed, even after a disastrous food poisoning incident in New Orleans (on my birthday, no less). No, there really is nothing like the luscious oyster, and we’re lucky in DC to have plenty of places to enjoy them.
They say eating an oyster is like kissing the sea, or a mermaid. I don’t know about that, but I do know that slurping back a mineraly oyster freshly shucked off the shell is one of those things that divides people – either you can’t stand the thought or the taste of them raw, or you love them passionately. While perfectly fried oysters battered in cornmeal certainly ranks high on my list, it’s the ritual of the dozen (or three!) that I really enjoy. So here are my top DC raw bar experiences…