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It’s been one helluva year here in Nashville. First, we welcomed our newest addition, Maggie Jean, in July. And then, this past week, came the arrival of my first cookbook, The New England Kitchen, which I was lucky enough to co-author with my good friend, chef Jeremy Sewall of Lineage, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Row 34.

So just how did we make it all work? For me, it took plenty of super early mornings, during which I would work on edits for the book. There were also a lot of weekends spent cooking, editing, writing and eating. (Oh yes, there was plenty of eating … especially considering my growing belly.) The book was truly a labor of love but one I would happily do over again. Jeremy’s recipes make me want to get into the kitchen and cook. They make me hungry just reading them. Not every recipe elicits that reaction but for me, his style of cooking just fits. I would love nothing more than to spend a day making pork belly confit and layering it over a sweet potato puree then sprinkling crispy sauteed mushrooms over top. Especially after ogling the photos taken by photographer Michael Harlan Turkell who did  remarkable work on this book.

Speaking of Michael, I just have to call out the awesome team of people who made this book real. It starts with Jeremy, of course—his comedic timing alone made me love every minute of this project—and working with him means working with his tireless, level-headed assistant Carol Turner, who, among other things, single handedly wrestled most of the recipes from chef’s head onto the page. Michael was a total joy, and even though I wasn’t there for every shoot, I know that they became progressively more polished, efficient, and most of all, fun. I loved working with our rock star designer Amy Sly who literally has the fastest hand on the west coast. And, of course, our editor Sandy Gilbert who put us through a cookbook bootcamp before fully whipping us and the book into shape by the end. Sure, there may have been moments when a few of us wanted to throw knives but they were fleeting. For the most part, we all kept our heads down, kept it positive, and worked our tails off to make this an exceptional book.

More than anything, I marvel at how long this process took from beginning to end. It all started about 4 years ago when Jeremy and I sat down at the newly opened ICOB to talk about doing a cookbook together. Before we even started the conversation, Jeremy told me he had a confession to make. “Lisa’s pregnant,” he said, grinning about the arrival of his third child. I grinned right back: “I’m pregnant, too.” (Insert Jeremy’s one liner here: “I was only responsible for one of those babies.”) And so, we had our meeting and came up with some great ideas. Later, on the phone with our agent, Danielle Chiotti, we learned that she, too, was pregnant. So… there we were, three pregnant ladies surrounding one very busy chef who, in spite of it all, put his head down and created the proposal that would eventually turn into the foundation for The New England Kitchen.

Fast forward about 18 months. We were on our second version of the proposal, this one more focused than the first and I was down in New York accepting an award from the New England Society for my first book, Shucked. After the ceremony, I was introduced to Sandy Gilbert, an editor with Rizzoli. “Have you ever thought about cookbooks?” she asked politely. I gave her a primer on the proposal we were creating and she said casually, “send it to me. I’d be happy to take a look.” We did and, lo and behold, Rizzoli decided to make an offer. There were others on the table but after a Jeremy had a whirlwind meeting with Sandy in New York, we both agreed that Sandy was our girl.

Now, our babies are marching toward 3 1/2 years old and the book is finally here. This past week, we celebrated with events at Lineage and ICOB and Jeremy got his first taste of the craziness that is a book signing. Through it all, we’ve survived another new baby, another restaurant opening, numerous weddings, and a move across the country. I like to think the universe put all of these opportunities together for a reason. I feel lucky to have been a part of it all—the challenges, the rewards—especially since it’s given me so much appreciation for the process and for what exactly makes a good recipe. How words, measurements, direction, and voice can engage you in the kitchen, without you even knowing it. I hope Jeremy’s recipes resonate with you. Please try a few and let me know what you think.

This week also gave me a chance to catch up with some friends in Boston. (Thank you Josh and Nicole for inviting us to your wedding!!) My mom and Maggie were with me for the week so Maggie made her appearance on the book tour and also made her first trip to the farm. As always, it was good to see my friends at ICO — you guys are growing up in so many cool ways.

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Now, about that baby. She is perfect. That is all. Seriously, though, she has added so much joy and chaos to our lives — and I mean that in all the best possible ways. Charlie loves his baby sister to pieces. He is a wild and charming little guy who is as enamored with our new arrival as we are. They aren’t quite at the age where she can reciprocate the love but if her beaming smile is any indication, she is fascinated by him. We are lucky to have these two happy little souls in our house. Of course, Dave and I are short on sleep, patience, and general sanity but we are acutely aware of how amazing this moment is and how much we cherish each other and our good fortune.
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Lastly, a note about this blog… it’s been such a wonderful place to share all of my news and certainly the easiest to manage. I want to keep going with it but I’m going to move things in a new direction now. Shucked is still its own living breathing thing (would you believe I’ve sold almost 10,000 copies so far?) but it’s time for me to take all of my pertinent info over to a pretty new home. You can now find me at erinbyersmurray.com where much of this blog also lives and might one day be accompanied by another, down the road.

Hope you have a chance to pick up a copy of the cookbook. If you do, let me know which recipes you like. And I promise I’ll be in touch soon!

And so. Here we are, settled in to our new life in Nashville—maybe too comfortably, considering how little attention I’ve paid to the blog lately. It’s been 9 months, we’ve bought a house in the Sylvan Park area of town, and both Dave and I are feeling invested in our work. Charlie is a mad man, almost 2 years old and fully running the show in our household. Rex, the family dog, is happier than he’s ever been with his big fenced-in yard and air-conditioned house. It’s a good life in Tennessee. And we’re more than ready for visitors.

There is still so much to learn about this town. Both in the music and media worlds, Dave and I feel ever-so-slightly on the fringe. But when it comes to food, we’re making headway. The food writers in this town, especially, have taken us under their wings (thank you Thomas Williams, Chris Chamberlain, Jennifer Justus, et al) and we have discovered a number of fantastic little gems (putting together Nashville’s 50 Best Restaurants and ranking the top 10  for Nashville Lifestyles this spring didn’t hurt). Arnold’s, Prince’s Hot Chicken, the Catbird Seat, City House, Loveless Cafe… these are iconic for a reason. Need recs for your next visit? Shoot me a line and I’ll give you the greatest hits.

Plus, I’ve found the oyster bar. Not the oyster bar, since other restaurants in this town have oyster programs, but “the” in terms of the one that I’ll be frequenting for the selection, the service, and the atmosphere. The Southern Steak & Oyster (it’s right there in the name) has opened their arms wide to me and, more importantly, to Shucked. This past Monday, the restaurant invited me to guest host their “Oysters In The Round” event, a new program that puts their guests in a somewhat “round” room to eat and discuss a range of oyster varieties.

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Fashioned after the songwriter “in the round” nights hosted all over town, the event turned into an educational and convivial one. There are plenty of oyster lovers in Nashville… now it’s time to get them access to more of this country’s incredible oysters. The Southern seems to be one of a few spots that are actively pursuing oyster education—both for their guests and their staff.

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I was honored to work with them on this and hope we can turn it into a regular event (especially if they all end with a lineup of oyster shooters made with barrel-aged tequila and chartreuse).

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The timing is right, too: Shucked officially hits the market as a paperback this Tuesday, July 2. I’m guessing this version stands as a more appropriate beach accessory than the hard cover—you know, in case you were looking for a beach read.

Things are picking back up on the book front, actually. I’ll be back in Boston for the Brooklyn Brewery Mash on July 14. Brooklyn Brewery works with Togather, a community of authors and readers, to present book events during their traveling beer series. Starting around 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, I’ll be joining Graham McKay of Lowell’s Boat Shop as well as the team from Island Creek upstairs at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks to talk about the book and offer some fun commentary about life on the coast. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come out for a few oysters and a beer.

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After that, I have plans to do another book event with Togather, this one virtual, set for July 22nd at 8 p.m. Log in, grab a glass of wine, and let’s talk oysters, y’all.

In the meantime, please know that despite the radio silence, there’s still plenty of oyster exploration going on in my world. Thanks to those of you who are still keeping track.

We’ve officially found our way to Tennessee–and for the last five or six weeks, have been taking every possible opportunity to eat our way through Nashville. But, between the time change, adjusting to our temporary home with family friends Jim and Carol, and the culture shock of adjusting from the surly northeast to the oh-so-friendly south, we are just barely starting to feel settled, let alone find our new watering hole. The good news is, we have found oysters!

Right after we arrived, I started a new job with Nashville Lifestyles, a luxury magazine that covers all there is to know about living the good life down here. Being back in an office after all these years working from home (or on the farm) was by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced since the book release. But, I’m taking advantage of my exploratory phase and quickly found a way to do some research on oysters (there’s a handy reference guide for Nashville oyster lovers in the November issue). A trip to The Southern with my coworkers netted several dozen (Wellfleets, Kumos, Beau Soleils…) as well as an appreciation for their oyster program and shucking skills, both of which are solid.

Meanwhile, Dave and Charlie settled into a day-to-day routine at the house, which is about to be turned on its head: Dave has landed a job (yay!) and Charlie is headed to daycare for the first time ever. He’s more than ready for the transition — he tells us every day, in his very own language, how excited he is to meet new friends.

And although the book launch is already a year behind us, I was able to get a few signings in this fall with a swing through the Midwest. Dave and I hit up Milwaukee for a signing at the stunning Harbor House restaurant, where I got to spend the evening with about 50 oyster lovers and the restaurant’s incredibly friendly staff. They went out of their way to take us out, show us the town, and left me with the best parting gift ever: an authentic Harley Davidson jacket – huge thanks, Chris!

The next day, we made our way to Chicago for a signing at Shaw’s Crabhouse and to attend yet another unforgettable Hall of Fame Dinner. This one was in honor of John Hall, founder of Goose Island Beer Company whose very first wholesale account was Shaw’s. The two businesses have clearly grown up together so it was a great celebration to mark John’s milestones–and naturally, there were a number of exceptional beers.

Back here in town, Dave and I are back to the task of exploring Nashville’s top restaurants (Catbird Seat is high on the list). I’m slowly working my way through the endless number of hip little coffeehouses (which are seriously impressive–they’ve perfected the vibe down here) but for dining, The Southern will surely be on the regular rotation, as will Merchant’s, City House, Holland House, The Pharmacy, Local Taco, and Judge Bean’s Barbecue. Our ICOB/Eastern Standard equivalent is still out there, waiting to be found… but we’ve got plenty of time to make our way down the list. One meal at a time.

I’m sitting amongst a pile of boxes tonight, packing up all those last little items that seem to sit around until the last minute of a move. We leave Boston on Thursday morning and head off on our next adventure: Nashville, Tennessee. It has been an unforgettable past few weeks as we’ve tried to squeeze every last ounce of fun out of our hometown before the big move. But it has also been painful and sad and very, very emotional. Every day brings a new set of people to say goodbye to, a new “top ten reasons why we love Boston list,” and a new reason to sit down and cry. We are so unbelievably sad to let this city go…. but also anxious and excited for what’s about to come.

As for that announcement I promised in my last post, I can finally let you know that I’ve signed a deal for my next book project: A seasonally inspired New England cookbook with Chef Jeremy Sewall. Jeremy and I go way, way back to the days before Island Creek, back when he first moved to Boston to open his then-restaurant Great Bay. He now owns Lineage in Brookline, consults as the chef at Eastern Standard, and is partners with Skip Bennett and Garrett Harker at the Island Creek Oyster Bar (where Great Bay once lived). Jeremy and I joke that we’re now “committed for life” with this project and partnership and celebrated, fittingly, with a magnum of champagne and a toast with his staff at ICOB.

I could not think of a more suitable chef and friend to write my first cookbook with and I am so excited for the day when we can finally show it off. The book will be published by Rizzoli in October 2014.

Most importantly, this project will bring me back to Boston often. We have a lot of work to do and food to cook. Jeremy and I work well together electronically but will have plenty of excuses to put our heads together and eat. Which means I’ll be up here as much as I possibly can — and cramming in as many restaurant meals with good friends as time allows.

As for our last few days in the city, they have been, in a word, epic. This past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of helping to coordinate another Friends For Haiti event, a fundraiser that supports the work of the Island Creek Oysters Foundation. It was a wild and memorable Duxbury weekend, starting with a feast at Jane and Bob Hale’s house and ending with a post-event, late-night session at the Winnie. The event was the best we’ve ever hosted with an outstanding group of guests and plenty of fantastic food.

Last night, our very dear friend Nicole Kanner of All Heart and Eat Your Heart Out fame organized a going away party at the Oyster Bar for us, followed by a rowdy toast with the Publick House team at Dave’s old bar. All told, we consumed way too many drinks, gave several mediocre to terrible speeches, and hugged and cried our hearts out. For Dave and I, it was the perfect end to world-class run.

And now, we really do say goodbye. Or at least, see you soon. Boston: You have been our home and our haven. You have treated us like family and you have nestled your way into our hearts with undying devotion, enthusiasm and loyalty. We met here, built our careers here, started our family here, and we will take the friendships we’ve fostered here wherever we go. Thank you for everything, Boston… Nashville, here we come!

If only life were as simple as it used to be. Posting items a few times a week, tossing out updates, securing art, and making it all read like a short, pithy little stories. Not so much these days.

But, there is news to share, which means it’s time for a long overdue post. As if having a baby and producing, publishing, and marketing a book in one year weren’t enough… we’ve decided to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve accepted a job to be the managing editor of a pub called Nashville Lifestyles — my family and I leave Boston in just 4 short weeks.

Now, if you’ve read the book, you might be thinking, “Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the career she left way back when to go do this oyster thing.” And yup, that’s definitely true. But… and there is a big “but” here… things are different now. (His name is Charlie – aka: Poseidon — and if you haven’t met him yet, he’s pretty adorable.) Charlie is a major reason why I’ve decided to take this job and we, as a family, need to make this move. Not only will this move get us much closer to all of Charlie’s grandparents, but it will bring some much-needed stability and yes, even a little bit of sanity to our lives.

We’ve been talking about a move to the South for years. For as long as Dave and I have been together, actually. Our parents are in Hilton Head, SC and Knoxville, TN. My sister is in Charlotte. We’ve always talked about raising our kids in the South and as soon as Charlie arrived, we knew we needed to make that happen pronto. This opportunity came up midway through the summer and after a phone interview and a whirlwind trip to the NL offices, I was offered the job and the decision was made. It’s time. After 11 years in this city, I can honestly say that it is officially time.

The past year has been a trip. We went from living this non-stop, deliciously crazy, excitement-filled life to one that was suddenly dictated by a very sweet (and handsome) but very demanding little blonde dude. He’s always up for an adventure, sure. But letting his mom drop everything to go work on a farm or, ahem, giving her the luxury of sitting down to dwell over the nuances of  blog post? Nuh-uh. The kid is not having it.

This is, of course, all completely fine because a year into Charlie’s life, I can tell you that whatever he is doing, or picking up, or jabbering about, or pushing around with sticky fingers, or pulling himself up on, or watching, or sleeping in, or even breathing near is WAY more intoxicating than that old life we left behind. (I guess that’s what all the fuss is about.) It is hard to imagine anything better in the world than our life with him. Even if that means life without Boston.

This year has taught me a few things about myself. The first, and biggest lesson, is that I desperately need structure. Structure makes me a better person, a better wife, and a better mom. It gives me the confidence that tomorrow will go smoothly and that Charlie will be a happier kid because of it. This new job will give me structure, as well as a creative outlet; it will give me a magazine to craft, and shape, and edit, and enjoy…much like a book would, only shorter and with more to offer the world on a regular basis. This job is a very good thing and I can’t wait to get down there and get started.

But it will not be easy. I am not ready to say goodbye to this place or the people, who have become my family here. We are deeply rooted in this city: in its restaurant culture, music scene, media, and literary world. In its people, its politics, and yes, even its sports. We love this city and we always will. It will be forever burrowed inside of us and influence all that we do.

But all of this makes the move even more exciting for both of us. The promise that we will get to know a new city and hopefully have the opportunity to fall in love with it just as deeply as we did with Boston has re-energized us. Dave will be making his way in Music City — a dream he’s had since he first started teaching himself guitar in Knoxville — and returning to his home state. I will be going back to a full-time career in media, a world I’ve missed (albeit sporadically) since leaving it that fateful day so many years ago. Yes, we’ll be closer to family but we will also be closer to a life that we’ve always wanted for ourselves.

The only real question that remains is: Where will I get good oysters down there? Oyster bars? Brasseries? I’m open to suggestions…or perhaps a promise from my friends at Island Creek that they will one day open a Southern version of ICOB. A land-locked girl can dream, can’t she?

For now, stay tuned. There is more news to follow (soon, actually) and plenty more oyster eating to be done.

Despite the slow down of book events, I still managed to lose track of time this spring. Is that a symptom of motherhood or age? We did manage to find a few quiet weekends after all the traveling we did this winter, but many of them were punctuated by really enjoyable book events. A signing at the Somerville Winter Market; a class on merroir at Formaggio; a dinner with the Slow Food Seacoast group; the Nantucket Wine Festival. Every week brought another reason to plug the book and meet a group of fun-loving oyster fans.

There were, of course, plenty of opportunities to eat oysters. And I even managed to visit the farm on two occasions – one educational, one momentous. A few of the highlights, in photos.

The ICOB Farm Tour

It started with a gorgeous morning on a perfect low tide.

The farm crew helped out, giving ICOB servers, chefs, and bartenders a lesson on upwellers…

…as well as a how-to on culling, counting, washing and bagging.

Dana and Chris gave the staff a primer on the ICO brand, but I’m pretty sure the audience was only half paying attention…

… because they were all thinking about the farm’s new hatchery, which Gardner led them through as he educated them on the intricacies of algae and oyster spawning. His analogy of it being “a little bit art, a little bit science,” resonated with everyone.

We wrapped up the day with a panel of oyster growers, like Christian Horne, Joe Grady, and John Brawley from ICO plus Russ and Mary-Kate Sandblom of Sunken Meadow Oysters, Jon Martin of Moon Shoal, and Eric Brochu of Big Rock Oysters. The take away? It’s harder work than you think it’s going to be; family is the biggest support system these guys have; and one of their favorite parts of the job is being out on the water on a gorgeous day from sunrise to sunset.

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The Family Farm Tour

When my Uncle Jim Williams (one of the first to teach me how to eat oysters) came to visit in April, he specifically requested a farm tour, which we happily obliged. Will Heward took us out on a nice drainer tide for a look at the lease and a lesson on growing oysters.

Jim took some time to pay respects to the local wild life…

…and got a lesson in how to pick oysters by hand.

Charlie and Dave stayed on the boat, soaking in the sun.

I think it’s safe to say that Charlie and Jim enjoyed their first farm tour…

…but more importantly, what came at the end. Jim’s appreciation for the work that Will, Skip, and the gang put into his afternoon snack was only made richer by who he got to share it with. (P.S. Thanks, Hewie!)

How did it get to be March already?! The book mobile has been rolling nonstop since the holidays so I’ve hardly had a chance to breath let alone put something up on the blog. But things have started to slow down — relatively — which means it’s time to catch you up.

My “world tour” made a quick stop in Chicago where Shaw’s Crab House and the culinary group Chicago Gourmet hosted Skip and I for a luncheon and book signing at the Shaw’s Oyster Bar. Dave and Charlie joined me, as did my father-in-law Dave along with a few other Murray family members giving me plenty of familial support… but even if I had been by myself, I would have been surrounded by friends. The entire team at Shaw’s made us feel like we were part of the family, giving us free reign of the space throughout the day and even inviting us to their staff bowling party later that night (sadly, we were on baby duty…) It was an epic day filled with new friends and plenty of book lovers.

Next stop was New York City where Dave and I went on a much-needed adult-only restaurant crawl hitting up as many oyster bars as we could find. My super quick synopsis is below.

First stop: Birreria inside Eataly NYC for a few beers and tasty meats

Eataly's stunning seafood counter (wherein I became instantly jealous of every person that lives within shopping distance of Midtown).

Next stop: The John Dory Oyster Bar, where the shuckers put out plate after plate of pristine bivalves. We ordered many, wiling away most of the afternoon...

Plate #2 out of 4, I think?

Several stops later...: The Mermaid Oyster Bar Downtown for fish tacos and a couple more oysters.

The trip wasn’t all research, of course. The guys from Island Creek joined me for an oyster and book event at Peels NYC — my first NY signing to date. It was great to get back behind the boat for a few minutes and the guys were, as usual, the most popular folks in the place.

In between all of the traveling I taught a merroir class at Boston University. Before tasting through a dozen different oyster varieties, I walked the students through the flavor profiles of four different species: we had East Coasts, Pacifics, Kumos and Olympias. (Unfortunately, the Belons were being finicky.) We dipped into a little oyster lore as well as a bit about how each oyster was grown. The students were fantastic – really engaged, solid questions, and hopefully took away a little ammunition for their next trip to the oyster bar. Behind the scenes, CJ & Hoban from ICO plus Frank & Francisco from ICOB kept the oyster platters filled before joining me out front to offer a quick shucking demo. Overall, I’d say the class was a raging success… and I’ll be doing another one at Formaggio Kitchen at the end of April.

There’s been a pretty fantastic run of press for the book these past few weeks, too. I’ll work on getting the press on my About page updated — in the meantime, check out the links to my interviews on The Splendid Table and ABC 7 Chicago.

So when does reality kick back in? The past few weeks have brought me back down to earth as we’ve gotten back into the rhythm of work / home life. But we did take a quick break this past weekend to visit Dave’s sister in New Haven — her family just welcomed their second daughter, Becca Jean on Friday! I’m happy to report that she is healthy, happy, and has a stunning head of hair, just like her big sister.

Despite the book tour quieting down, I’m still swimming knee-deep in oyster work — mostly thanks to some side work I’m doing with the farm and upcoming classes and oyster program. To answer a question I get asked almost daily, no, I never do get sick of eating those little suckers. Hopefully you won’t either.

As far as year’s go, I’d say this one’s starting off on the right foot. We spent the first few weekends traveling both for the book and for fun and I’ve managed to meet a number of die-hard oyster lovers along the way.

My trip to Houston brought me to some of the nicest, most voracious oyster fans I’ve ever encountered. Brasserie 19 hosted an oyster and wine tasting set for 4 pm on a Friday and sure enough, the place was packed to the gills and completely sold out at over 160 people. The entire crowd was into it, slurping back our selection of East and West coast oysters with genuine excitement for what was on the plate. My Dad, who played manager/bodyguard for the night, got a few pictures but mostly, we just enjoyed chatting up the crowd and spreading oyster cheer.

The following day, Hubbell & Hudson, a fantastic gourmet market in The Woodlands (with its own walk-thru beer cave and on-site cooking school) hosted me for a signing which drew a decidedly different oyster crowd: the kind who enjoy them at home. It was so refreshing to see so many folks who were comfortable with a shucking knife. Admittedly, before I worked for Island Creek, I don’t think I would have braved shucking oysters at home on a regular basis…special occasions are one thing but these folks seemed to be bringing oysters home just because it was Saturday. It inspires me to get back into the habit.

We also got to see some of my family’s Texas friends, as well as some of the extended ICO family: Shore’s aunt, uncle and cousin. It’s good to see these pockets of die-hard ICO fans spread throughout the country.

Here in Boston, I’ve been busy dining my way through oyster menus at spots like Harvest and La Morra. Next up, I’ll be doing a signing at the Weston Library this week, followed by a dinner at STIR Boston next Wednesday, Feb. 1. Then it’s on to Chicago, a class at Boston University, New York City… yes, it’s turning out to be quite a year. For those keeping track, Charlie’s now a pro at getting through airport security.

Will I see you on the trail? If not, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of SHUCKED on the air a few times in February. My interview with The Splendid Table airs the week of February 18… but before that, our long-awaited appearance on Bizarre Foods will air Monday, February 13 (host Andrew Zimmern gave the book a little love this past fall). Tune in for a look at life on the farm… and hopefully I’ll see you out on the road!

PS – Check it out: I made it onto a local bestseller list!

I’m hitting the road this winter to give Shucked a little national love. First stop: Houston. I’ll be there January 13-15 doing events at Brasserie 19 and Hubbell & Hudson so if you’re down that way, please come out and say hi. I’d love to get to know some folks from the Texas oyster world and hear what’s happening down there. As my friend Alison Cook mentions in her exceptional blog post about our long-winding friendship and my book, the Texas oyster season is officially closed due to red tide, which gives us a great excuse to try New England oysters — but I’d love to learn more about the oyster growers along the Texas coast and what this means to their business.

(Speaking of Alison, I have to give her huge props: I never mentioned our encounter in the book but really wanted to. Her encouragement helped propel me into my adventure. Alison – thank you! And I hope to see you in TX.)

I’ll also be heading out to Chicago from February 5-7 for an event at Shaw’s Crabhouse — a place I became pretty familiar with on a trip out there in 2009. Skip and I will be hosting an oyster luncheon where they’ll be serving recipes from the book after which, I’ll be hanging out in the Oyster Bar for a signing during oyster happy hour. (PS – all of the details for these events can be found on Signings and Appearances.)

Closer to home, I’ve got some really fun events coming up including a very special night we have planned at La Morra in Brookline. Chef Josh Ziskin cooked a meal for some wine-loving friends and I right before I started on the farm — he paired oysters with gnocchi and it pretty much blew my mind at the time. He and his wife Jen are very kindly hosting a Shucked dinner (four courses, paired with wines for $65) on Wednesday, January 18 at 6:30 pm to commemorate the journey. I hope you’ll come out for what is sure to be a stellar meal.

And now, a few notes about our first Christmas with Charlie:

- We hit the road for a ten-day Southern tour stopping first in Charlotte to spend a few days with my family and then made our way to Knoxville to celebrate Christmas with Dave’s family.

- The kind and supremely generous folks of Hama Hama Oysters sent out a few dozen of their regular oysters and Blue Pools, which my family and I happily slurped back a few days before Christmas (thanks, Adam!)

- Both my niece Gracyn and Charlie teased the idea of trying oysters. Alas, neither fully took the plunge but I see a couple of oyster lovers in the making.

- We don’t have video proof, but after hours and hours of practicing with his Pop-Pop, Charlie had his first official rollover on Christmas morning right at the feet of Grandpa Dave. Of course, no one actually saw him do it but he started off on his back and a minute later, he was on his belly. So we know it happened somehow… and it made for an exciting milestone. Now, if only we can get him to say Mama…

- Charlie got to meet his great grandad Joe, or JoeJoe as the kids call him, another milestone that formed an instant friendship. Between JoeJoe, Charlie’s cousin Alice, and the many cousins and aunts and uncles we spent our week with, Charlie was fully entertained during our time in Knoxville (and I think it’s safe to say that the rest of the family was, too)!

Thanks to our entire family for making Charlie’s first Christmas so special! And to my Mom who created these adorable Shucked aprons…modeled by my parents and our dear friends Carol & Jim right before they shucked several dozen ICOs on New Year’s Eve. I have the feeling Dave and I are going to get a lot of use of them out on the road. (And PS: We’ve got a few extras if anyone’s interested!)

What better time to eat a couple dozen oysters than with friends and family over the holidays? We were down in Hilton Head, South Carolina over Thanksgiving where my parents have officially settled in for the long haul (Thanks, Mimi & Pop Pop, for another unforgettable holiday!) and managed to get several dozen Island Creeks into the mix.

Look! It's Dave from Shucked!

We slurped most of them back on the half shell but also threw a handful on the grill where, after they popped open, we doused them in butter and Mexican hot sauce. It’s one of my favorite no-fail recipes from chef Ken Oringer. We also made an herbed oyster stuffing again this year but for that, we used South Carolina oysters. I stopped at two grocery stores before snagging the last two dozen at the Piggly Wiggly. Apparently, South Carolinians go crazy for oysters on Thanksgiving.

I also got some exciting news over the holiday: Shucked is going into its first reprint! That means there will be plenty of copies for you and your loved ones (hint hint). I’ll be out and about signing books over the next few weeks, starting on Monday night at the Hotel Commonwealth (check out the flyer below) so come on out and get a signed copy.

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