I can provide eastern oyster varieties but we rarely do so, unless I am doing vertical flight tastings of oysters from different areas in North America. I think that the west coast varieties are more flavorful then the east coast product. Oyster growers on the west coast have also begun growing the east coast variety. Called ‘virginicas’ or Atlantics, these oysters have won blind tasting contests against the best oysters the east coast has to offer. I am happy to provide this eastern oyster if available.
The eastern oyster is found from the cold waters of Nova Scotia down through Maine, Massachusetts, New York, the Chesapeake region to the Carolinas and the west coast of Florida, around Florida to all the Gulf states (Alabama, Louisiana and Texas), and finally into eastern Mexico. The scientific name for the eastern oyster is Crassostrea virginica, which translates to deep cups from Virginia. It’s hard for many people to appreciate how important and plentiful eastern oysters were 100 years ago. Indians dined on them regularly. The colonists ate them as an easy source of delicious protein and a go to food in times of scarcity. At one time, there were so many oysters in the Chesapeake Bay that the waters of the entire ecosystem were filtered twice a day by the native oysters. Now the bay is filtered once every two years.
The names people are used to hearing for eastern oysters are regional names. First of all, a true Blue Point oyster is found in the oyster beds near Blue Point in the Great South Bay off Long Island. Today you see ‘Blue Points’ from other areas. Many eastern oysters are named for the region from which they are grown and harvested. These include: Blue Points from New York; Malpeque oysters from Nova Scotia; Beausoleil oysters from Nova Scotia; Wellfleet oysters from Boston; Cotuits oysters from Connecticut; Chincoteague oysters from Chesapeake Bay; Apalachacola oysters from Florida; Gulf oysters from Alabama and Louisiana and Galveston oysters from Texas.
Oysters are like wines. The merroir (refers to the flavors imparted by the different areas of the sea) changes from area to area and from season to season within an area. Local oyster lovers argue strenuously that the oyster they are used to eating are the best. We want you to decide.
Oyster roasts are very popular on the east coast. If I am “roasting” oysters for you, I will ALWAYS open the oyster first so the oyster does not become overcooked.