Features in the Spring 2013 Issue of Edible Cape Cod:
We had the good fortune to spend several days this past March in New Orleans with our long-time senior contributing editor Tom Dott, and his better half, Alice Pitcher. We were returning from the annual Edible Communities members meeting in Santa Barbara, California, and thought NOLA was the perfect stopping-off point on our way to the East Coast.
After eating at various types of dining establishments for a couple of days, Ali made a very astute observation: every single restaurant, whether upscale or low-end, made a special point of celebrating the local oysters. In fact, it was assumed that you were going to start you meal with a round of oysters, if you weren’t making them the main course, that is. We had them raw and à la Rockefeller as starters, in po boy sandwiches and jambalayas at lunch, and as both main course and garnish at dinner. I even had them one fine morning for brunch at the iconic Brennan’s.
It got us thinking about how restaurants on the Cape need to do a much better job promoting our local oysters, which are, in our humble opinion, the best in the country. It would be a real boon to our shellfishing community to enjoy such boosterism, and it might just help shift the public perception of the food scene on Cape Cod beyond fried clams and chowder.
Perhaps we should encourage Cape oystermen to help restaurants pitch their products by coming up with succinct descriptions to differentiate them. To this end, we offer Mary Blair Petiet, a frequent contributor to Edible Cape Cod and an ardent and discerning oyster devotee. In her article about Washburn Oyster Company in this issue, she writes, “There was salinity in the medium to high briny taste with an extremely clean finish. These oysters brand like wine and also pair well with it. They would complement a crisp dry white.” And here’s her take on the Moon Shoal oysters of Barnstable, which she wrote about in an article for us in 2010: “Cracking a few open, we taste brine. After the brine comes a marvelous melon taste. This melon finish is a wonderful surprise and it defines the unique taste of Moon Shoal Oysters.” Don’t you think either one of those characterizations would help sell more oysters?
We can’t leave our discussion of New Orleans without a final observation, again attributed to Ali, a high-end service industry veteran. Most of the service staff was incredibly genuine, proud and knowledgeable, which we found very refreshing. We recall getting greeted as “guys” only once and never as “dudes”, which we hear far too often on the Cape. Can we please abandon the current trend in restaurants towards familiarity? If you don’t want to say “sir” and “ma’am” (and there are many of us who don’t want to be called such, either), then lose the noun altogether. Just, “Welcome”, “May I help you” and “Thank you”.