Island Creek Oysters has long been praised for its oyster quality and know-how. In Yankee’s 2013 Best of New England Editors’ Choice Awards, we raved about Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar (one of the farm’s brick-and-mortar dining spots), saying, “Skip Bennett is the guy who turned Duxbury’s Island Creek oysters into celebrity bivalves; executive chef Jeremy Sewall comes from a family of lobstermen. Together, they’ve created a restaurant that consistently sources the freshest seafood and serves it in ways both soul-satisfying and revelatory.”
The same is still true today.
I recently found myself the lucky recipient of an Island Creek Oysters home delivery. As with similar outfits such as Blue Apron, Island Creek Oysters sent the goodies — Duxbury oysters, known for their deep cups, plump meat, and buttery finish — to my doorstep via speedy next-day service. I appreciated Island Creek’s attention to detail in both packaging and presentation: Bagged in mesh and packed in ice, the fresh oysters smelled as though the briny Atlantic itself had wafted into my kitchen. “Welcome to your Island Creek Oysters experience,” read the enclosed card. “We’re proud to deliver the oysters we’re so passionate about growing. They’re fresh out of Duxbury Bay — most likely harvested yesterday.”
You can dig in straight away or (like me) follow Island Creek’s oyster handling instructions. The whole bag can be stored in the fridge, covered with a damp towel, for several days.
The next afternoon, I gathered up my loot and headed 20 minutes north to my dad’s house for an “Island Creek Oysters online” party. As a shucking novice, I knew I’d need help getting the oysters open — not to mention eating them. Fortunately, my dad and Uncle Tommy were ready to help do the dirty work. More than ready, in fact: These are men who don’t turn down oysters. Island Creek had thoughtfully provided me with a shucking knife, but my uncle arrived armed with his own, and my dad had the newspapers ready for the beautiful mess to come.
New to shucking oysters? Fear not. Island Creek breaks the process down and even provides a website link to a demo from Island Creek owner and founder Skip Bennett.
HOW TO SHUCK OYSTERS
Grasp the oyster in the palm of one hand, cup side down. Use a glove or kitchen towel for extra protection.
With the hinge between the top and bottom shells facing you, insert an oyster knife into the hinge and twist until the shell pops open. Don’t push too hard, though: You don’t want to cut the meat.
Scrape the knife along the edge of the top shell to separate the top and bottom shells and sever the adductor muscle from the top shell.
Use the knife to loosen the oyster from the bottom shell.
Eat and enjoy!
It may take you a few tries to get the hang of it, but, like riding a bike (or, in my experience, perfecting the art of scooping the perfect globe of ice cream), once mastered it’s a skill you’ll enjoy for life. I also firmly believe that when it comes to oysters (online or not), even the aftermath is a thing of beauty.
When serving oysters, you’ll want a supply of crushed ice to nestle the curved half-shells. If your fridge doesn’t make crushed ice, you can make your own in the blender or with the help of a large hammer. You’ll want those shells properly supported so you don’t lose a drop of the delicious Duxbury oyster brine.
Then it was time for us to dig in. A squeeze of lemon here. A quick spoonful of spicy mignonette there. Savor, shuck, and repeat. This was my first time trying Duxbury oysters, and they were delicious: fresh and sweet, with the unmistakable briny authenticity of the Atlantic. Pure oyster perfection.
HOW TO SERVE OYSTERS
Planning your own oyster party? Island Creek advises enjoying your freshly shucked oysters straight from the shell, either au naturel or with just a squirt of fresh lemon. The overwhelming flavor of cocktail sauce, the company warns, is an insult to the oyster farmers. For those seeking a bolder oyster addition, I recommend making a quick batch of chilled Spicy Mignonette Sauce, courtesy of Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 chef-partner Jeremy Sewall (the recipe comes with the delivery, but Island Creek has kindly allowed us to also share it with you here). Flavored with shallots, jalapeno, and fresh cilantro, it adds the perfect hit of spice to your fresh oyster experience. Make it a few hours in advance, if possible, to allow the flavors to fully blend.
GET YOUR OYSTERS!
Have you ever wanted to order oysters online? Island Creek offers fresh oysters in bags of 50, 100, or 200. Visit the seafood online store for a full list, which also includes items like Raw Bar in a Box, Oyster of the Month Club, Summer Farm Share, and a sampler for two. You can also order oyster essentials such as shucking gloves, knives, and even cookbooks.
Decided not to shuck? You can enjoy full-service Island Creek oyster dining (and much more) at Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston (Kenmore Square) and Burlington, Massachusetts, or at Row 34 in Boston (Seaport District) and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Island Creek also supplies fresh oysters to hundreds of fine dining establishments all over New England, so keep an eye on your menu when dining out!
Island Creek Oysters. 781-934-2028; islandcreekoysters.com