As a weekly Serious Eats: New York contributor on the bounty of the East End, I often experience blogger envy. My city mouse colleagues walk past more ethnic eats in a single Manhattan or Brooklyn or Queens block than in the 50 mile span from Riverhead to Montauk.
Shellfish diversity, however, is another matter. And for those Gotham residents who don't get out to the haven of farming, fishing and winemaking a couple hours east of the city, tomorrow the Grand Central Oyster Bar is hosting their annual Oyster Frenzy. The landmark restaurant near the whispering walls, with the most impressive selection of the meaty bivalves on the Island of Manhattan, will offer a rare chance to sample a selection of local mollusks that don't typically make it to the concrete jungle.
Their annual Oyster Frenzy is a tasting course of sorts for oyster lovers, novices and everyone in between. Starting at 12:30 p.m., grab a glass of Long Island chenin blanc (represent!), and taste your way through 8 East Coast and 8 West Coast. At this one-day affair, that includes a shucking contest at 1 p.m. and an oyster eating competition at 2:35 p.m. (open to any contenders) you pay per taste. It's an adjustment from last year that chef Peter Fu thinks will be more inviting to those not yet acquainted with the crisp, salty pleasures of raw shellfish. “Think about it,” he said. “In the early 1900s, for many New Yorkers, oysters were their main protein.”
During a recent visit to the Oyster Bar, where the daily rotation includes mollusks from more than two dozen bodies of water around the nation, a friend and I emptied a dozen oysters. They were arranged on the plate like hours on a clock. Six boutique varieties all raked or cultivated on Long Island, including Pipes Cove and Widows Hole from Greenport, Oysterponds from Orient, East Ends from Mecox Bay, Blue Points, and Great Whites. Each one carried on its knobby half-shell that unique signature of the particular piece of bay bottom that it inhabited. It was a display that couldn’t be mustered anywhere else in the city, according to chef Fu. “You’re not going to find these niche oysters anywhere else.”
For a complete list of details and to make reservations, visit www.oysterbarny.com or call (212) 490-6650.
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