Island Creeks Win NSA Oyster Tasting Event
Island Creek Oysters of Duxbury, Mass., were deemed the overall winner of the Invitational Oyster Tasting Event held Monday in Providence, R.I. The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association produced the event in cooperation with the National Shellfish Association.
Island Creek Oysters scored 130.9 out of a possible 170 points. Oysters were judged on exterior appearance, "shuckability," internal appearance, odor, flavor and aftertaste. Following the competition, samples of each oyster were sent to Brown University for a chemical analysis of the salt and mineral content for a greater understanding of why oysters grown in a particular area take on certain flavor and texture characteristics.
"We're thrilled. It's a big honor. There were so many great oysters there. The competition was very tough, but we were pleased to come out on top," says Shore Gregory, director of business development for Island Creek Oysters. "Duxbury Bay is a nearly ideal environment for growing beautiful oysters. The dynamics of the bay contribute to the flavor, and our guys are such a committed group of farmers."
Gregory added that more than 6,000 Island Creek Oysters were shucked and presented to attendees of the International Boston Seafood Show in late February.
Second place went to Totten Inlet Virginicas from Totten Inlet, Wash. (126.4 points), and third place was a virtual tie between Ninigret Cups from Charlestown, R.I., and Sweet Petites from Edgartown, Mass., with 123.9 and 123.5 points, respectively.
Runners-up included Mystics from Mystic, Conn.; Snow Hills and Toby Islands, both from Chincoteague Bay, Md.; Moonstones from Narragansett, R.I.; Cape May Salts from Delaware Bay, N.J.; and Watch Hills from Winnapaug Pond, R.I.
A total of 19 varieties of Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) from all three coasts competed in the contest. Judges, flown in from all corners of the country to avoid local biases, included Rowan Jacobsen, author of "A Geography of Oysters," who is the subject of the One on One column in the May issue of SeaFood Business. Jacobsen's book has been nominated for awards by the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Cookbook Professionals.