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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!)

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