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This November Give Thanks With Oysters

November 2, 2020 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

While many associate November with turkey, in Virginia it’s oyster month. Virginia Beach is a particularly special place to celebrate because of its geographic location; sitting at the meeting point of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, the destination’s waterways are a magnet for dozens of species of fish and shellfish and home to the world renowned Lynnhaven oysters.

 Lynnhaven oysters are a local delicacy that have a unique connection to the destination’s history. Named after the Lynnhaven River, a tidal estuary in Virginia Beach that flows into the Chesapeake, Lynnhaven oysters gained notoriety as one of the first meals Captain John Smith, who led the first permanent English settlement in America, had in 1607. Lynnhaven oysters later achieved international culinary status when the colonists shipped them to English aristocracy.

“While Virginia Beach is renowned for many things that our local waters produce, Chesapeake Bay Crabs, Rockfish, Tuna and Shrimp, our Lynnhaven oysters have always been known throughout the world as a special delicacy for seafood lovers,” said BJ Bauman, owner of Rockafeller’s restaurant and president of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association. “Their history is so ingrained in Virginia Beach and we take pride in harvesting the very best. As a result, they are like tasting a ray of sunshine with a dash of ocean breezes.” 

An alluring component to Virginia Beach’s seafood scene and some of the most picturesque places to feast on Lynnhaven oysters and the freshest seafood on the East Coast, is found along the destination’s inland waterways, home to a host of waterfront restaurants that allow patrons to dock their boats and dine in comfort, convenience and style. Whether nestled along Rudee Inlet or Lynnhaven River, these eateries have amassed a following for delivering flavorful delicacies and stunning views. An insider’s guide to the destination’s dock and dine restaurants and the best places to celebrate oyster month include: 

·         Rockafeller’s on Rudee Inlet: This cottage-style, multi-story eatery, renowned for its service and familiar faces, has been using locally sourced products to serve some of the freshest seafood in Virginia Beach for 30+ years.

·         Rudee’s: Housed in a replica of an authentic coast guard station, its airy, nautical style and nearly 40 years of service has attracted quite the following.

·         Surf Rider: The open-air, comfortable and lively cabin restaurant is seasonal, serving seafood caught fresh daily during Spring, Summer and Fall.

·         The Porch On Long Creek: Offering Instagram-worthy panoramic views of the calm waters of Long Creek, this relative newbie on Virginia Beach’s culinary scene has quickly become a go-to favorite with locals for its coastal American food and stiff handcrafted cocktails. 

·         Chick’s Oyster Bar: Docked on Lynnhaven Inlet, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, its laid back, casual fare sourced from the waters that surround the restaurant has been keeping Virginians coming back for 20+ years.

·         Bubba’s Crabhouse and Seafood Restaurant: Kick back at this quaint local favorite that started as a bait and tackle shop 30+ years ago and has become known for its She-Crab Soup and views of the Lynnhaven River.

·         Dockside Restaurant and Marina: Part fish market, part fishing trip tour operator, you’ll find a variety of seafood here you won’t find anywhere else at this family-style restaurant. Oenophiles will appreciate the restaurant’s expansive wine list boasting over 1,000 bottles.

·         Steinhilber’s: Affectionately known as Steiny’s to locals, this venerable eatery was established in 1939 and is one of Virginia’s oldest continually operated restaurants. Steeped in nostalgia and tucked away in the Thalia neighborhood, the fried shrimp is perennially cited as the best in the area.

·         The Back Deck: Beloved by locals for their fish tacos, this casual fare eatery is tucked behind seafood market The Shellfish Company and has a menu dominated by the market’s fresh catch of the day.

·         Big Sam’s Inlet Café & Raw Bar: Established by a former competitive surfer and skateboarder, this favorite local watering hole delivers a cozy vibe and friendly service, wrapped around comfort food served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Can’t make it to Virginia Beach for oyster month or want to add some Virginian flair to your Thanksgiving meal? Enjoy a taste of Virginia Beach right in your own home, with four hometown-favorite oyster recipes: 

Tautogs Restaurant – Benny’s Oysters 

Ingredients

·         ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes

·         ¾ cup pesto

·         ½ lb Havarti cheese

·         48 oysters 

Directions

1.    Rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes

2.    Drain tomatoes and coarsely chop

3.    Add chopped tomatoes to your favorite homemade pesto recipe (quality store bought pesto can be substituted)

4.    Top each freshly shucked local oyster with approximately 1 tsp mixture (depending on size of your oysters)

5.    Top dressed oysters with a piece of Havarti cheese

6.    Bake in a 350-degree oven until bubbly and golden brown, about 10 minutes

7.    Serve with fresh cut lemon, saltine crackers and your favorite hot sauce (optional) 

Rockafeller’s – Oysters Baton Rouge 

Ingredients

·         ½ lb bacon

·         3 oz white onions (medium chop)

·         2 cups heavy whipping cream (room temperature)

·         ½ cube chicken bouillon

·         1 dash Worcestershire sauce

·         1 dash Tabasco sauce

·         1 dash cayenne pepper

·         1 tsp Cajun seasoning

·         ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

·         2 tbsps cornstarch

·         2 tbsps warm water

·         ½ pt fresh oysters (juice can be used to thin sauce if needed) 

Directions

1.    Cut bacon into 1/4-inch pieces

2.    Cook bacon and onions until bacon is browned

3.    Slowly add heavy cream and cook until it reaches 180-degrees

4.    Combine bouillon, cornstarch and warm water in round bowl; mix well and add to sauce until thickened

5.    Add Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire, tabasco, cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning

6.    Add fresh oysters and cook 2 minutes or until hot (edges of oysters should curl)

7.    Place bread in a pasta bowl, make a 1-inch deep dimple in the top of each piece of

8.    bread to hold some sauce and oysters

9.    Pour oyster/sauce mixture over bread towers and garnish with fresh chopped parsley 

The Atlantic on Pacific – Oyster Shooter

Ingredients

·         1 pint Crimini mushrooms

·         2 tbsps garlic

·         1 tbsp shallot

·         ¼ cup white wine

·         ½ cup heavy cream

·         ½ cup fontina reserve 1/8 cup

·         ½ juiced lemon

·         ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

·         Salt 

Directions

1.    Chop mushrooms, garlic and shallots and add to hot pan with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil

2.    Sauté until all the moisture is gone

3.    Add white wine and cook until dry

4.    Remove from heat and add lemon juice, heavy cream, and panko

5.    Taste for seasoning

6.    Top your favorite raw oyster with 1 tbsp of filling and top with remaining Fontina cheese

 Catch 31 – Honey Bourbon Butter Grilled Oysters With Bacon Lardon & Jalapeno

 Ingredients

·         ¼ lb unsalted butter, softened

·         ½ tsp garlic, chopped

·         1 tsp olive oil

·         1 fl oz of Makers Mark bourbon (or your favorite brand)

·         1 fl oz wildflower honey

·         2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped

·         1 jalapeño, chopped fine

·         1 tsp curly leaf parsley, chopped fine

·         1 dozen of your favorite oysters, shucked 

Directions 

For honey bourbon butter: 

1.    Soften 1 stick of butter (¼ pound) to room temperature

2.    Sauté garlic in olive oil at low heat in shallow saucepan until fragrant (approx. 30 seconds).

3.    Remove pan from heat and add bourbon. Return pan to low heat and bring to a boil. Caution: the alcohol in bourbon will catch fire if the temperature of your stove is too hot!

4.    Boil until the liquid is reduce by half and the strong smell of alcohol is gone.

5.    Remove from heat and add honey. Stir until it is fully incorporated. Set aside

6.    In a mixing bowl or stand mixer add softened butter, honey bourbon, and chopped parsley. Blend ingredients thoroughly.

7.    On the counter or cutting board lay out a piece of plastic wrap. Spoon butter into the center. Fold plastic wrap over butter and roll into a log. Place in refrigerator until ready for use.

For oysters: 

1.    Place oyster on solid surface. Secure oyster with a towel using your non-dominant hand.

2.    Using your dominant hand place, the tip of the oyster shucking knife at the base of the hinge (heal of the oyster).

3.    Twist the knife using pressure until you feel the shell pop. Do not force your oyster open. Run knife along the length of oyster to separate top shell from bottom.

4.    Once open run knife under the oyster along the bottom shell to release the oyster from the abductor muscle.

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