ON THE COAST OF RHODE ISLAND, AN OYSTERMAN HOSTS THE ULTIMATE BIVALVE BASH. WE TAGGED ALONG FOR A CRASH COURSE IN OYSTERS SO YOU CAN PULL OFF AN EPIC FEAST OF YOUR OWN.
A Rhode Island oysterman schools us in briny bivalves.
What’s it like to wear a bathing suit and water shoes to a dinner party? If you snag a ticket to the Walrus and Carpenter Oysters summer dinner series, you can find out.
In 2009 Jules Opton-himmel started Rhode Island–based Walrus and Carpenter with a two-pronged goal: growing briny, buttery oysters and helping to restore the environment. Today he and his crew plant 2 to 3 million of the ocean-filtering bivalves every year on eight watery acres along the southern New England coast and supply oysters to more than 50 local chefs.
It was the buzz about his oysters—coupled with his eagerness to spread the gospel about the creatures’ eco-friendliness—that prompted Opton-himmel to start hosting the fun and informative dinners. The events begin with a tour of the farm and a chance to slurp the oysters straight from the waters where they’re grown. After the apps, guests sit down to a white-tablecloth multicourse feast on a pictureperfect sandbar. With just eight dinners planned every summer and 48 seats at each, Opton-himmel instituted an online lottery system, so getting a place at the table is basically the luck of the draw.
But even if you don’t hit the Walrus and Carpenter jackpot, you can still throw an awesome oyster party. (Seriously!) To help you get ready, we quizzed Opton-himmel and other seafood experts to find out the truth about the tasty shellfish and how to shop and shuck with confidence. So what are you waiting for? It’s oyster o’clock!
What’s a beach party without music? Get the perfect fun- inthe- sun playlist at rachaelraymag .com/spotify.
Walrus and Carpenter Oysters owner Jules OptonHimmel (opposite page) out on the water with canine “farmhands” Clamcake (front) and Tautog. Crew member Mitch Mcgrane preps a pile of just- harvested bivalves (left). Guests raise a toast (below) from their seats on the sandbar. (Check out that view!) The star of the party: a freshly shucked oyster (below left).