The Most Decadent Night of the Year


Decadent is the word to describe the “On the Move” event at Mine Oyster on August 16 attended by 70 people; most of whom are oyster lovers. Those who were not, such as my friend, Gayle, are converts now. This marked the third year for this event, and judging by the the great time everyone was having, there can be no doubt there will be a fourth.

The stars of the evening were the oysters and, in Maine, Glidden Point Oyster Company reigns supreme. Barb Scully began growing oysters in Edgecomb in the Damariscotta River in 1987. They grow in deep, cold water 40 feet down and are harvested by hand.

Scully brought three varieties she began experimenting with, all grown in different lease areas, to the delight of attendees. And they were perfect. Just ask oyster connoisseur Rowan Jacobsen.

During this most unusual oyster extravaganza, Jacobsen taste-tested three special “boutique” varieties of Glidden oysters and rated them all outstanding, particularly the Ledges variety with its sweetness. The Bristol and the Newcastle were the other delicious boutiques, all four or five years old.

“Barbara does this (experimenting) because she cares,” Jacobsen said. “No one else does what Glidden Point does. Diving for the oysters and harvesting by feel. If you want to grow the best oysters in the world, that’s what you have to do.”

Jacobsen, in a post-event phone call, said the Ledges had a “nice sweetness” and the Newcastle and Bristols tasted similar in flavor. All three had the briney (salty) quality east coast oysters are known for. All three, he said, were “pretty amazing, really.”

“East coast oysters are the better oysters, but can be difficult to pair with wines because they are so briney,” Jacobsen said. “Chablis pairs the best and the Moreau chablis (Ralph Smith) had was perfect.”

A total of 2,500 oysters were served in three hours, 2,000 of which were Glidden Point oysters.

The other Maine oysters included 100 Pemaquids and 100 Ebenecooks. The latter made for delightful “shooters,” small and served in gorgeous shells. Three Pacific varieties, 100 of each, were also consumed; they were Kumamotos, Olympias and Shigoku.

Raw, in sushi, poached with artichokes and spinach, in dips, as a topping for beef toronados in a Newburg sauce, smoked as garnish for Blue Sapphire gin or Tito’s vodka martinis, candied and floating in strawberry soup, baked three ways (buffalo style with blue cheese and tobasco, scampi-style in garlic, butter with a crumbly topping, and Parmesan-style with sauce and cheese) and, raw, as most oyster lovers prefer them.

All three of the baked oysters will be on the menu at Mine Oyster next year. Attendees were asked to vote for the one he or she liked best, but most liked them all.

Each oyster station was paired with a wine, a light, effervescent, slightly sweet sake, or a beer.

“I think it was an amazing event,” said Ralph Smith of Mine Oyster. “Everyone was having a great time … it was the event of the season here, a time when we can show off what we do.”

And what “they can do” was noted by Jacobsen, who told attendees that he goes to larger events, but they didn’t compare to the annual event at Mine Oyster.

“Decadent is the word for it. You can’t get the level of food and drink Ralph offers anywhere else,” Jacobsen said.

“What Ralph does is truly amazing; it’s the highlight of my year.”

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