Sunday, September 11, 2011
Oysters in Port
Life along the coastal marsh is constantly wrapped around what we are pulling out of the waters of our nearest shores. Our local paper, The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette recently published a photo of locals preparing for the oncoming oyster season which immediately signaled my taste buds for a succulent salty delicacy one only finds in the Lowcountry. Recreational harvesting is a popular activity and there are a few rules to follow 1) It is unlawful to harvest between May 15 and September 1 annually. 2) There is a harvesting limit of two bushels of oysters or one-half bushel of clams, or both, per person, per day from authorized harvesting areas. Mind you raking oysters is one serious endeavor...if you have ever been cut by an oysters shell simply walking along the shore, imagine that magnified x1000 in a bed full of these suckers. My motto: Wear protective gear as instructed! The next harvesting season is scheduled to commence around October 1st so I'm rummaging through my modest library for my 1994 edition of the Christ Church Frederica Cookbook from St. Simons Island, Georgia. I recall this cookbook containing a really easy starter dish for oysters called "Oysters in Port" that would be an appropriate kickoff to the October arrival of oysters. 1 pt oysters, 8 oz port wine cheese and sesame crackers. Essentially single layer the oysters with a dot of port wine cheese in an oven 15-20 minutes, remove upon completion of cooking time and place atop a cracker. We've used a pizza stone rather than a baking dish on several occasions to engage our guests in scooping up their desired morsel~many times the oysters don't even make it to a cracker. For now, the cheese and crackers have been purchased and we simply must wait for recreational harvesting to begin. Much like sport fans of American football, our Lowcountry oyster season entails some preparation in advance and once it starts it's one continuous roll until it all comes to an end.