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We’re not the only ones who love oysters!
First time visitors to Martha’s Vineyard often comment on how clumsy the seagulls are for dropping clams and oysters all over the Beach Road that runs the distance between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. But what the birds are really doing is unwrapping lunch, demonstrating how they get past the oyster’s gnarly shell to discover the tasty treasure inside — the shell-strewn roadway is an apt intro to Martha’s Vineyard’s world of shellfish.
Vineyard Haven’s Net Result for shellfish any way you want ‘em
Oyster beds can be found up and down the coast of the Bay State: Ipswich, Wellfleet, Cotuit to name just a few of the Massachusetts towns famous for their oysters. On the Vineyard, shellfish thrive on Katama’s salty shores and wild harvested in the Tisbury Great Pond in West Tisbury — oysters flourish in the brackish ponds where sea and sweet water marry.
Like fine wine, each location or watery ‘terroir’ produces a distinctive flavor in the oysters it nurtures. Taste a Katama after swallowing down a West Tisbury, and you’ll immediately be struck by the difference: the first is briny and assertive; the latter, mellow and sweet.
Birds in the know: oysters thrive in MV’s pristine ponds, estuaries and inlets
Of course, you can get oysters on Martha’s Vineyard any time of year. While the oyster itself is consistently superlative, the various experiences of eating it are closely tied to the season.
As winter winds down for example, Lambert’s Cove Inn restaurant tempts us with Oyster night, each and every Thursday. Sample the briny bivalves prepared Au gratin, Rockefeller, or anointed in Smoked Garlic Butter. Indulge while cozying up to one of the four fireplaces that grace their elegant dining room.
No springtime scent is more indicative of summer to come than the first whiff of fried oysters wafting in the still, chill air. Eating hot fried oysters — melting tender on the inside, crisp and rich outside — fresh from the Net Result in Vineyard Haven while keeping a weather eye on the harbor front, is an Island rite of spring.
Enjoy your oysters just around the back of Larsen’s in Menemsha
In summer, oysters are ubiquitous. No matter where you are on the Island you are never far from an oyster. In Aquinnah, stop by Faith’s Seafood Shack and Sushi Bar for a quick raw bar fix. Down the road just a bit, you’ll have another opportunity at Larsen’s Fish Market on the Menemsha Harbor where you can spread your feast on sea-worn benches and tables while watching fishing boats come and go. Just up the road at the Home Port Restaurant you can feast indoors or out. Order what you like from the back door take out.
Down Island (Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown), pick up a mess of oysters at The Net Result Fish Market, and for a small additional fee, they’ll be shucked and plated. In Oak Bluffs, Nancy’s Restaurant & Snack Bar, or Coop de Ville are among the harbor-front dining spots offering oysters among the tempting items in their raw bar. Up the road, at the Lookout Tavern you can watch the ferry ply Nantucket Sound as you eat. For a more upscale experience and a beautiful view of Edgartown harbor, choose Water Street at the Harbor View Hotel or the Atlantic Fish & Chophouse, which is set to reopen in April 2013.
When you next visit Martha’s Vineyard, be sure to experience the Island with all of your senses: see our sights, listen to the cry of gulls and ringing of the buoys, let the sand run through your fingers; smell the sea, and finally, taste the essence of our shores in our oysters. Welcome and enjoy!
Please note that some of the businesses mentioned within this post are only open in season, so please be sure to check in advance.
Carol Ward is content editor at MVOL providing current information about the Island at www.mvol.com & www.mvolmobile.com. An Island resident for 30 years, Carol was formerly publications editor for MV Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.