The world is your oyster, South Forkers. Well, for the rest of this week at least.
A handful of South Fork restaurants will be offering dining specials on locally grown oysters starting today and continuing through Sunday, October 15, in honor of the first ever Long Island Oyster Week.
Two Long Island-based oyster enthusiasts, along with the organizers of Long Island Restaurant Week, joined forces to create and launch what will be an annual oyster week that not only showcases some seriously scrumptious shellfish, but highlights all the good the mighty mollusk can do.
“Oyster week is an opportunity to showcase world class oysters that are grown locally,” says Richard Remmer, in a press release about the event. One of the event’s founders and owner of The Snapper Inn in Oakdale, Remmer’s a life-long oyster lover, noting the newly launched oyster week is a great opportunity for both customers and chefs to sample, showcase and compare oysters from all around Long Island.
“My family’s life for five generations has been intertwined with Long Island oysters,” he says. “My grandfather’s first job in America was for an oyster company. I am ecstatic that our great Long Island restaurants and our amazing oyster growers are getting together to celebrate the best oysters in the world.”
Options for the oyster preparation run the gamut with some restos serving them on the half shelf, while others will feature them as an appetizer, sampler or entrée. There are three Hamptons-based restaurants that are participating in oyster week: Sag Harbor’s Sen Restaurant (23 Main St.) and Bell & Anchor (3253 Noyac Road), along with Calissa (1020 Montauk Highway) located in Water Mill. For a full list of participating restaurants across Long Island, click here.
An oyster truly is a thing of beauty. They’re not only delicious — chock full of vitamin D and those hard-to-come-by omega-3 fatty acids — they’re one of the greatest natural improvers of local water quality, as an adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water each day. Local oyster farms across the island are partially responsible for removing more than 192,000 pounds of nitrogen, as well as more than 57,000 pounds of carbon each year, according to the event’s organizers. This improvement to the island’s ecosystem directly results in improved water clarity ultimately assisting in the restoration of eelgrass and the reduction of algae blooms plaguing local waters for decades.
Co-founder Chuck Westfall, a south shore oyster farmer and president of the Long Island Oyster Growers Association, was instrumental in coordinating the eight or so oyster growers from across the island for oyster week.
“Long Island oyster growers are proud to present to you the very best oysters from our many growing regions,” he says in the release. “We have reestablished in both quality and taste an oyster that harkens back to Long Island’s rich oyster and shellfish industries. We are also proud of the significant environmental benefits that oyster farming provides to our local waters.”
Participating oyster growers are scattered across and in-between both forks here on the East End, harvesting from Peconic Bay, Noyac Bay, Block Island Sound and Oysterponds Creek. Farms whose oysters are slated to be featured all week long include: Shelter Island’s Eel Town Oysters, Hamptons Oyster Co., Oysterponds Shellfish Co., Montauk Pearls, North Fork Big Oyster Co., Thatch Island Oyster Farm, Founders Bay Oyster Farm and Great Gun Oyster Co..
Even the shells are part of the five-day event, as Long Island Oyster Week will support Half Shells for Habitat, an island-wide initiative from Seatuck that recovers oyster shells from restaurants for use in habitat restoration efforts. They’re also looking forward to the much-deserved attention the tiny mollusks are going get this week.
“Any event, that highlights Long Island oysters is a great asset to Long Island’s marine ecosystems,” says Maureen Dunn, director of the recovery program. “More oysters eaten means more oyster shells collected that go back into our waters to restore our water quality. We are honored to be a part of the event.”