Northshore Magazine

November 2014

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 197 of 259

196 beach, Sandy Neck. "Every growing area is unique, and every grower tends to do things a little bit differently," says Begley, who operates his farm part-time on weekends. When stock runs out sometime after the new year starts, he doesn't mind: "Barnstable Harbor is not that much fun in February," he laughs. Growers like Island Creek and Beach Point are quick to point out that unlike other types of farming, shellfish aquacul- ture actually improves water quality. Shell- fish remove harmful nitrogen from sea- water by ingesting it into their tissues and shells. More importantly, they feed on the phytoplankton that consumes nitrogen (more nitrogen equals more phytoplank- ton, which is a problem, since phytoplank- ton creates harmful algae blooms). "Shellfish aquaculture represents the only widely cultivated form of protein that is a net benefit to the environment where it's grown," asserts Sherman. "We've had a raw bar on the bar since day one," says George Carey, founder of Finz Seafood & Grill in Salem. "We've been serving oysters since before they were in vogue and we'll still be serving them after. Oysters are a big part of who we are," he continues. "We deal in high volume, we buy every day, and we attempt to run out at the end of each night." Seafood is taken seriously at the Pickering Wharf restaurant, now in its 14th year, and it's no surprise that the oyster selection is carefully culled. Carey sources his oysters from a Boston-based broker, who in turn buys direct from up to 40 different growers—he opts for wet-stored oysters, which are housed in saltwater tanks post-harvest just like lobsters. "We pay more but feel it's a superior product," he explains. On any given day, Finz's raw bar includes four different oysters, typically hailing from New England but sometimes farther afield. This fall, the restaurant launched a one-dollar oyster "happy hour" from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and again from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. "They are pure protein and the perfect late-night snack," boasts Carey. Serie Keezer, Finz's executive chef, appreciates the oyster's full potential, and his specialty is a doozy: The aptly named "Finz Oyster" is shucked and topped with wasabi caviar (a mix of whitefish roe and wasabi powder) and a splash of Stoli "Razberi" vodka. "It has a citrus taste," says the chef, "and it's a nice change from the savoriness of cocktail sauce." Matt O'Neil, executive chef and owner of The Blue Ox in Lynn, boosts the deli- ciousness of his cocktail sauce with locally grown horseradish and also prepares a Champagne mignonette sauce daily. Oys- ters weren't even on O'Neil's menu until he convinced Island Creek to deliver, but now they are available in the dining room by the half dozen and are sold in the bar for a dollar apiece from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays. Historically, oysters were a valued meat source and their post-harvest shelf life was sometimes stretched. Lengthy storage coupled with a lack of adequate refrig- eration led to the prevalent garnishes of horseradish and vinegar, which helped mask time-induced musk. However, a self- declared ostreaphile typically indulges without accompaniment in order to dis- tinguish subtleties in the meat and liquor. No matter the noshing style, one thing is certain: Understanding oysters' geo- graphic pedigree, discerning their flavor characteristics, and even creating comple- mentary beer and wine pairings are all part of the sampling fun. ● n Dipping Sauce Clockwise from top, The Blue Ox's chef Matt O'Neil prepares a plate, The Blue Ox's Champagne mignonette, Finz chef Serie Keezer displays his tiered raw bar. 196 196

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