Brooklyn Oyster Riot Recap

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BK Oyster Riot - Photo by Julie Qiu - 25

BK Oyster Riot - Photo by Julie Qiu - 11

BK Oyster Riot - Photo by Julie Qiu - 9
Photo credits: Julie Qiu

We came, we slurped, we had a great time!

Here are just a few scenes from the Brooklyn Oyster Riot, many many thanks to all of our friends and partners who helped us pull this together! You can also check out the full album on Facebook here. See you next time!

The Brooklyn Oyster Riot Is Coming

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Brooklyn Oyster Riot

We are thrilled to be sponsoring the Brooklyn Oyster Riot, the launch event for New York Oyster Week this year! Join us on Thurs, Sept 11 at the Palm House at Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 6:30 pm. The event will be showcasing some of the finest oysters and shellfish in the world, as well as the stories of those who grow, forage and distribute them. Come meet your oysterman and ask questions as he hands you an oyster that he carefully cultivated from seed to half-shell! All oyster shells from the event will be recycled and donated to the Billion Oyster Project and New York Harbor School.

The Brooklyn Oyster Riot includes:

  • Punch card tasting ticket (up to 3 oysters from each vendor) featuring oysters from the East and West Coasts (that’s 30 oysters)
  • A tasting menu of passed plates featuring eco-friendly seafood and other food items, created by Charlie Krause
  • 10 +/- Oyster varieties from near and far
  • 10 +/- Oyster Farmers, Divers & Shucking Champions showcasing & shucking their oysters, interacting with guests and telling their stories
  • OPEN BAR featuring 5 +/- Wines, Beers & Cocktails, including an exclusive Oyster Stout brewed by Blue Point Brewery for NY Oyster Week and Finlandia Vodka. Drinks will be curated to pair with specific oysters and oysters in general.
  • Enjoy the event surrounded by natural splendor at the Palm House at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

You’ll meet farmers and representatives from:

  • Taylor Shellfish featuring Shigoku oysters, Shelton, WA (Meet Tom Stocks)
  • Montauk Shellfish featuring Montauk Pearl oysters, Montauk NY (Meet Mike & Mike)
  • Forty North Oyster Farms featuring 40N° Shore Point oysters, Mantoloking, NJ (Meet Matt Gregg)
  • Atlantic Cape Fisheries featuring Cape May Salt oysters, Cape May, NJ (Meet Ned Gaine)
  • Barnstable Oyster featuring Barnstable oysters, Barnstable, MA (Meet Kevin & Tamar)
  • Duxbury Bay Shellfish featuring King Caesar oysters, Duxbury Bay, MA (Meet Paul & Matt)
  • Fishers Island Oyster Farm featuring Fishers Island oysters, Fishers Island, NY (Meet Steve, Sarah & Pete)
  • American Mussel Harvesters, Kingstown, RI
  • Meet the restauranteur, chef and speed shucker John Bil, proclaimed by the NYT as a “shellfish shaman” and by Josh Ozersky as “ungodly fast!” He is a renowned Canadian oyster shucking champion and consultant for many top restaurants, including M. Wells Steakhouse (NYC), Flex Mussels (NYC), Joe Beef (Montreal) and Catch (Toronto).
  • Meet Sam Janis from the Billion Oyster Project, a long-term project to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor and educate young people about ecological restoration and marine science.

This is an unprecedented opportunity for seafood fans and farm to table eaters to mingle with and learn from oyster farmers, divers and award-winning shucking champions in a fun and immersive environment.

For more details and tickets, please check out:

Photo: CharlesSallyCharles Caterers

Meetup: Greenport Oyster Farm Tour & U-Shuck

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Little Creek Oyster Farm Market
Photo: Little Creek Oyster Farm

I’m excited to announce another oyster farm field trip! On Saturday, Sept 6th, we’ll be heading to Greenport for an oystercentric day with some of New York’s leading watermen. I’ve been talking to these folks for a few months now, and they can’t wait to share their stories and knowledge about our favorite bivalve. Here’s an approximate schedule for how the day will work:

8:45 am Meet at the Hampton Jitney stop at 44th St & 3rd Ave.
9 am Hampton Jitney will depart Manhattan.
11:35 am Arrive in Greenport.
12 pm We will divide the group in 2. Half of the group will go to Little Creek Oyster Farm’s new U-Shuck market, where each person will receive one dozen oysters to shuck. If you aren’t confident about shucking or don’t know how, this is a great opportunity to learn! The other half of the group will go on a 45 min harbor cruise on the Glory. Captain Dave is definitely an old salt, and he can’t wait to share his stories and passion for crassostrea virginica, and his method for super safe shucking with us.
1 pm I will be picking up pizza from Rolling in Dough and bringing it to the market. We will have a light lunch on the picnic tables there.
1:30 pm The second group will attend the harbor tour, while the first group shucks their oysters.
3 pm We will walk to Widow’s Hole Oyster Farm to visit Mike and Isabel Osinski, see their farm operation and sample their oysters. (Some of you may recall a previous trip to Widow’s Hole a few years ago.)
5:50 pm Depart Greenport.
8:30 pm Arrive in Manhattan.

The cost for this trip will be $101.75, which includes transportation to/from Greenport, a dozen oysters at the Little Creek Oyster market, a harbor tour on the Glory, pizza lunch, and a tour and sampling at Widow’s Hole. We have 18 spots available, so if you’re interested, sign up now because historically farm trips have been very popular. Note: There will be no refunds for this trip, so please be confident you can make it before signing up.


Please bring your own water, camera, sunscreen and feel free to bring extra food/drinks for yourself or to share. The Osinskis have encouraged us to bring wine to Widow’s Hole. You’ll also have the opportunity to order additional oysters at the market if you’d like.

See you there!

Captain Dave
Photo: Newsday

Widow's Hole
Photo: Widow’s Hole

Recipe: Octopus Risotto

Octopus Risotto
Photo: W&T Seafood

What do you do with an abundance of octopus? Last year, I forayed into the age old dilemma of how to tenderize an octopus. After a successful slow roast, I had a lot of cooked octopus on my hands, along with some gelatin-laden octopus pan juices. Some of the octopus I diced and used in takoyaki (fried octopus balls). Then I started thinking about the leftover octopus juice and what that could be used for. How about for risotto?

The following is a basic risotto recipe, only with the substitution of octopus juice for some of the broth. You can adjust this more or less to taste; just be careful as the juices are naturally salty and you don’t want the dish to become too salty. If you are looking for ways to jazz up risotto with seafood, this is a fun, fancy-sounding dinner that is actually quite easy to make.

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Meetup: “Just Back From France” Dinner at Left Bank

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Summer travel season is here, and our thoughts naturally turn to to seaside villages and lazy Riviera afternoons. But you won’t have to jet across the pond to capture that spirit if you come to this NY Oyster Lovers Meetup event! We’ll be meeting at Left Bank (117 Perry St at Greenwich St) on Tues, August 19th at 6:30 pm for a dinner themed “Just Back from France.” Chef Laurence Edelman (formerly at Mermaid Oyster Bar) is someone who was “born to love oysters,” and we are thrilled to present the following oyster-centric menu from him:

Eastern Oysters on the Half Shell

Baked Stuffed Oysters, Mustard, Spinach Cake

Soup de Poisson, Rouille, Gruyere

Pan-Seared Boulette, Potato Puree, Fried Oyster Salad

Parisian Chocolate Mousse, Market Berries, Cream

RSVP and More Details:

For some lovely photos and quotes from Chef Edelman, do check out Julie Qiu’s interview with him:

See you there!

An Oyster Hatchery Grows in New York City

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Oyster Reef Ecosystem Drawing

For the last year, I’ve been cultivating a small oyster garden in NYC Harbor as part of the NY/NJ Baykeepers oyster gardening program. It has been a journey full of unexpected delights, failures and mysteries.

This year, the oyster gardening program has been rolled into the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative run by the Harbor School Foundation. The Billion Oyster Project works with students and teachers in NYC to educate them on the ecology and economics of their local watersheds. The goal is to restore one billion oysters back to New York Harbor within 20 years. If that sounds like a grand, impossibly lofty undertaking, consider that oysters once covered hundreds of miles of shoreline along the Eastern seaboard, and after European colonists arrived, more than half a billion oysters were harvested each year through the first half of the 19th century! So restoring a billion oysters back to their historic home is really a drop in the bucket compared to the teeming masses of oyster reefs that used to line the harbor.

My first task was to remove last season’s oysters from my cage and return them to the Billion Oyster Project. This is what 300 juvenile oysters in a backpack looks like:

In the past, there have been concerns raised by local governments about the safety of the oyster gardens and their vulnerability to poaching. Oysters raised in NYC Harbor are not safe for consumption, and the fear is that someone might try to steal and resell the oysters. NJ even went so far as to ban all research-related shellfish gardens. To alleviate some of those worries, this year the Billion Oyster Project is moving to using oyster shellstock (clusters), rather than oyster singles (the nicely manicured single oysters you see at the raw bar).

Oyster shellstock

Here, you can see that small, thumbnail sized oysters have settled on larger pieces of oyster shell. As the oysters grow, they won’t be as pretty as oyster singles, but they will be equally valuable in cleaning and filtering our waterways. The clusters are also perfect for Southern-style oyster roasts.

The Billion Oyster Project and Harbor School is headquartered on Governor’s Island, where New York City’s first and foremost oyster hatchery is located. After volunteers arrived for oyster garden training day, Sam Janis led us on a tour of the facilities.

Inside these quietly burbling tanks, 5 million oyster larvae were looking for places to set. And what’s the best place for an oyster to settle? On an oyster! It makes sense that if another oyster were successful in a given location, another oyster would do well in the same area. Plus, it’s easier for oysters to spawn and fertilize larvae if they are located near other oysters. To mimic those natural conditions, bags of cleaned oyster shells are placed in the setting tank, where they’ll attract microscopic oyster larvae.

So, what do you feed growing oysters? You might remember from our tour last year at Taylor Shellfish’s hatchery that every hatchery not only grows oysters, but algae. Here, you see the algae tanks that will be used to keep the oysters full and happy.

After touring the facilities, we all got to work building oyster cages. I was never expert at arts & crafts as a kid, and quickly screwed up my oyster cage by cutting off 2 extra inches on the first panel. Oops. Luckily, metal is malleable and we were able to MacGyver a fix for my asymmetric (but still functional!) oyster cage.

Afterwards, we each counted out 300 oysters for our cages and were given instructions on how to log our data and use the water quality monitoring kit. With my new oysters in tow, I returned to my cage site and dropped the oysters into their new home. I also shortened the rope a bit to raise the cage further away from the seafloor (and predators).

We’ll see how this year’s oyster crop goes!