The Bay Is Your Oyster

If you ask any first-class gourmand where to find the best oysters in the world, they will tell you to look in the claires of France or along the western coast of Ireland. Certainly in the shallow waters around Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or in Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod. Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico? Not a chance. 

If they are really savvy, they will tell you about Mali Ston Bay, an oyster utopia on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast where a variety of European flat oyster can be found that is so precious Roman emperors once funded commercial farms there, and still, two millennia later, Austrian emperor Franz Joseph was insisting that his monthly shipments to Vienna come from Mali Ston alone. In Franz Josef’s day, five hundred miles by train would be about the same as shipping overnight on a 747. In logistical terms, halfway around the world. 

Such is the love for this strange and wonderful bivalve and the lengths we will go to get them — nowhere is too far to send for the best. So whether you take them by the dozen on the half-shell or fried on a po-boy, with a bottle of France’s sparkliest or with an icy schooner of what made Milwaukee famous, the humble and posh oyster inspires a love that runs deep into the heart of many cultures and culinary traditions. 

The Gulf, however, has not enjoyed the same reputation for quality as these other fabled appellations. Even before the concerns brought by the BP oil spill, there was the long-held conception that the Gulf waters are too warm and turbid, and that the coastal beds where our oysters develop their unique flavor profile are not briny enough. 

So what we always lacked in quality, we made up for in quantity. At least we did until BP, an event that wiped out somewhere between 4 to 8 billion oysters — a loss that has taken the mollusk three generations to replenish. 

Read the article here.

It’s All Connected: A Q&A With USA’s John Lehrter

“We’ve been very blessed in Alabama. We’ve traditionally had low population density in the watershed. One of the reasons I love living here is just being able to get up in the Delta. Ten minutes from here and I can be in this vast wilderness that is not only aesthetically beautiful but also providing all of these essential life-support services for humankind and I think we take that for granted. But it’s not a guarantee that it’s going to be there in the future. So I think the average citizen just needs to be aware that we’re all connected to this, and that there are limits to growth and how much humans can exploit our resources.”

Read the interview on

Causeway Chronicles: Tales From A Storied Parkway

Finnell Forrest has been fishing off the Causeway in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for nearly a decade. His dad, who gave up fishing years ago, started taking him here when he was a kid.

At this little spot on the Blakeley River, not much more than spitting distance from the Causeway, Forrest and his buddy David Stallworth angle for largemouth bass, brim, crappie, redfish, and speckled trout. But no black drum — they let that go. “Too many worms in them,” he says.

Finnell likes fishing in the spring and fall best. He watches the tidal calendar and prefers fishing this locale to a falling tide. “The Blakeley is a pretty spot,” he says. “I get in my boat sometime and go up the river a bit. It’s a 17-foot-center console called a Bayhawk. It’s my first boat.”

On most days, Finnell uses a spinning rod with a J-hook and cork, with about three to four feet between bobber and hook. “[These freshwater fish] don’t eat down, they eat up,” he says. “They’re an ambush fish so they have to look up at their prey and eat them.” Today he and David are fishing with shiners and live shrimp they picked up at the bait shop just down the road, “Hooked By The Bay,” the last of its kind on the Causeway.

After a day on the water, Finnell cleans his haul at home and fries them up, using a mixture of cornmeal and wheat flour, and that seems to work pretty well, he says. Pan-fried mostly. Sometimes a deep fry. Baked occasionally. 

Asked what he likes most about fishing the Delta, he says it’s “the relaxation, the wildlife. It’s peace of mind.” 

Read more at Mobile Baykeeper.

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