“As I ate the oysters with the strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture,and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” – Ernest Hemingway from “A Moveable Feast”.
You can’t come to the Maritimes without wetting your palette with the taste of a freshly cultivated oyster. Sure, it may be an acquired taste, but to say you tried it at least once would make a Maritimer happy indeed. Oyster farmers can be found searching and shucking for these raw delights throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Nova Scotia even boasts Canada’s oldest oyster farm, Bay Enterprises Limited, owned by the Purdys, whose family began growing oysters on the shores of Malagash in 1899.
To think that only one variety of oyster existed would be mistaken. Oysters are distinct mollusks, producing such variance of flavour from salty to earthy to even a hint of sweetness. Prince Edward Island’s Raspberry Point Oysters take an astounding 6 to 7 years to reach the best edible size. Duchess Kate slurped one down whilst visiting PEI.
The seaport city of Halifax has the perfect spot to sample and indulge in an oyster taster platter – the Barrington Steakhouse and Oyster Bar – which offers a unique oyster menu. Yes, these savoury little succulents have their very own menu.
Grown in cages off the bottom, these oysters take a staggering 6-7 years to reach their standard 3 ¼” size. Salty off the first bite and sweetly clean on the finish. Scott Linkletter and James Power harvest these very well-known oysters from New London Bay, PEI.
Influenced by algae abundant waters these plump and textured oysters come in thick, bright green shells which are always unmistakably choice in shape. Linkletter and Power harvest from New London Bay, PEI.
Grown in cages that roll with the currents, these cocktail size oysters are a perfect beginner oyster. They are handled often in their early stages of growth and harvested by Linkletter and Power after just 4 years. New London Bay, PEI
Raked as wild seed and transferred to Pickle Point to finish out their growth, they are known for their firmly salty taste. Thicker than usual shells they are harvested by Linkletter and Power from the tidal areas of Hope River, PEI
Grown in the cold waters of the nutrient rich tides from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, these oysters are superb in meat quality and firmly salty Harvested by Linkletter and Power from around Rustico, PEI.
These cocktail oysters are basically a smaller version of the Daisy Bays. Bottom grown in colder waters with tidal movements from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Linkletter and Power harvest these from around Rustico, PEI.
Grown in suspended bags by Johnny Flynn in tidal waterways, these very full textured oysters are one of a kind. Distinctly choice shape, bright green shells and full of very briny, lighter shade meat. A multiple winner of oyster grower of the year on PEI, many elite Toronto and Montreal restaurants desire these on their raw bars. Souris, PEI
Mounted in floating bags just below the surface and finished in deep water free of ice for the winter months generating salty yet sweet notes with a hint of hazelnut to finish. Maison Beausoleil has been cultivating oysters for 15 years out of Neguac, New Brunswick.
These oysters are grown out in bags floating just below the surface where the sun rays strengthen the abductors making for more full and flavoured meat. The method of tumbling these oysters several times over the summer months creates the classic choice oyster shape of round lips and deep cups directly from the western reaches of Malpeque Bay, PEI.
A boutique-style, family-run business located on Prince Edward Island committed to growing and packing oysters of the finest quality in a safe and sustainable manner. These cultured oysters go through the tumbling process every year to encourage deep, round growth and a strong shell. Combine this with a great meat-yield and flavor to match, the oysters prove popular among shuckers and consumers alike. Being held in deeper waters attributes to their clean earthy finish. Cascumpec Bay, PEI
In 1996 Nolan D’Eon of Eel Lake Oyster Farm had just put his first 25,000 oysters in the nutrient rich waters of Eel Lake. Fast forward to 2015 and now more than 4 million oysters occupy their growing areas. Eel Lake is a brackish tidal lake which boasts fast growing, full bodied, and flavourful oysters. Tastes of earthy notes and medium saltiness. Yarmouth County, NS
Bay Enterprises Limited, founded in 197 4, is owned by the Purdy family who began growing oysters in Malagash, Nova Scotia in 1899. The Purdy family believes in the sustainable production of oysters and quahogs using traditional and modem methods that protect the ecology of the area to provide a safe and delicious product. Tastes of mild fishiness and medium saltiness. Cumberland County, NS
A family-owned business that has been producing and marketing eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) for over 30 years. The company is based in Shippagan, a town located on the northeast coast of New Brunswick. Their main products are two brands of oysters: “La St-Simon” and “La Mallet”. They are unique oysters because of their amazingly balanced flavour. Tastes of salt at first followed by a sweet and creamy finish. Shippagan, NB
Sober Island Oysters was established in 2004 and have helped build the reputation of local Nova Scotia oysters, which has grown about fifty percent since 2005. These oysters are small in size with a greenish hue to the shell. Equal parts salty and fatty. Their aftertaste is likened to fresh urchin or soft ripened cheese. Sober Island, Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia
These refined, brown-shelled, light-bodied oysters from Shippagan are similar to other New Brunswick oysters in the size (about 2.5 inches) and teardrop shape. Unique characteristics include their taste, which is saltier and less creamy and their sweet finish. They make excellent ambassadors to the land of the oyster-shy. Shippagan, New Brunswick
Just beyond New Glasgow, headed towards Cape Breton, lies Merigomish. Known for their pearly white shells, Merigomish oysters are high in fat and yield shells that are full to the brim with plump, luscious flesh and medium-bodied salinity. Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Grown in suspension units, Shandaph oysters, from big island on the Northumberland Strait, are cultured from seed. Shandaph oysters take three to five years to mature, and when they’re ready to be eaten, they contain velvety soft meat sheathed in a cloak of creamy white fat. Big Island, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Visit the Barrington Stakehouse & Oyster Bar online here.