Speaking of Summer... Tart and Chalky Wild Perry and Salty Peconic Bay Oysters. A Magical Bayside Pairing and the Revival of New York's Amazing Food Culture.
A brief, summer escape from the farm means sandy toes, salty hair, sunburn and seafood.
It's the annual family trip to visit Aunty and Uncle at the beach. We call it "Long Island"...a skinny, crowded sliver of land jutting into the beautiful Atlantic ocean. They call it "The Hamptons", home of private parties of the rich and famous. But "East End " is the name preferred by a new wave of farmers and foodies working on cool projects in this surprisingly agricultural, maritime region of New York State.
So inevitably we find ourselves on a dock in the mouth of the Peconic River, checking out a family run oyster farm, Widow's Hole Oysters.
Before colonization, the bays and estuaries of New York were filled with oyster reefs; a bounty that contained nearly half the worlds oyster population. A native animal which eats algae, the oyster is a natural water filter. This abundance supported an industry of farms and canneries on Long Island's East End and during the same period of history that cider was the most popular beverage in America, the oyster was our largest source of animal protein.
Over fishing and then pollution has all but eliminated the oyster from the Bays of New York, but ironically it's the oyster that the bays need now more than ever to filter out high nutrient loads from agricultural run off, lawn fertilizer and septic systems. Oysters can help prevent eutrophication but eutrophication also suffocates oysters.
Enter the oyster farmer: when oysters are managed in Peconic Bay, they not only survive, but thrive. Twenty years ago, Widow's Hole was the only oyster farm in Peconic Bay. Now there are nearly ninety. The greater the demand for New York's oysters, the more the water gets filtered. So do your part...eat oysters now.
A bucket of oysters pulled from the bay... iced, shucked and unadorned and paired with wild foraged perry. A perfect summer snack. Peconic Bay oysters are very salty and the perry provides the searing acidity to wash it all down while the chalky tannins provide contrast to the soft, slurpy oyster. While you wrap your mouth around the taste of the bay, the beautiful sweet aromas of Skelepear recall the orchards and blossoms of home.
About The Pairing Issue
If I popped into your house, would I find cider at your table? For a growing number of artisan beverage lovers, the answer is yes! But giving cider a seat at the table continues to keep me up at night. The Pairing Issue is a monthly "how-to" about bringing cider into your life through daily meals and simple friendly gatherings.