Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Oyster in Town

Black Restaurant Group (BRG) has teamed up with the Rappahannock Oyster Company and the Toby Island Oyster Company to bring two new Virginia oyster varieties to the market.  Working with Rappahannock's Travis and Ryan Croxton, BRG is now offering Old Black Salt Oysters.  Toby Island's Daniel Grosse and Bruce Wood have teamed up with BRG to develop Black Pearl Oysters.  Both areas of harvest were hand selected by the BRG team and respective farmers to produce oysters that had not been available prior to these corporations.

Old Black Salt oysters are harvested in the Black Narrows, a tight waterway running to the west of Chincoteague Island, VA.  This area is known to have heavy gusts and treacherous swells that provide the oysters growing there with an influx of nutrients and minerals.  The Old Black Salt oysters are one of the saltiest oysters available on the market today, with a salt content of 33ppt.  To put this in perspective, ocean water is around 35ppt.  Along with that fist of salt, Old Black Salts are balanced with a buttery nuance that is typical of Chesapeake oysters.  These oysters are one of kind for their salt and mineral content and really stand out when it comes to local oysters.  Eating one will surprise you and have you thinking that you have been transported to the Canadian Provinces.  It's really amazing how salty a VA oyster can be when farmers put this much thought and effort in selecting the best areas to grow oysters.

Black Pearl Oysters are cage raised in Oyster Bay, an area located at the tip of Chincoteague Island, VA.  Black Pearls are subject to the tidal cycles of the ocean, meaning they are exposed at least twice a day.  Bathing in the sun, Black Pearls develop firm, plump meats and sturdy shells.  This area is rich in algae and other nutrients that create oysters that are well-balanced.  The salt content of Black Pearls averages around 31ppt, giving them a perfect brine to complement their rich flavor.  Once you try a Black Pearl oyster it will be easier to understand how the complexity of intermingling flavors can give you a mouth experience your mind will not soon forget.

The benefits of creating our own signature oysters are not only for our customers; the Chesapeake Bay also benefits.  Combined, both oyster farms will seed our waters with over 5 million oysters.  Both varieties are triploids, meaning that they grow faster and the crops will be rotated more often.  The shells from our oyster sales will be collected and replanted into the Bay in order to provide new oysters with substrate on which to grow.  Old Black Salts and Black Pearls are Virginia's newest gems.  They are handcrafted oysters produced by artisans and represent the tastiest way for locals to enjoy the merrior of our great Bay.  Eat local, buy local, farm local.  The next time you are in Blacks Bar and Kitchen, BlackSalt, or Pearl Dive and are craving oysters, don't get too caught up in the exotic oysters available that you overlook the incomparable delicacies freshly harvested right in your backyard.

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