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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!)