During this summer of social distancing, Eater has no plans to update the annual dollar oyster map, at least not until Massachusetts enters the final phase of the state’s reopening plan, the “new normal,” and gathering with friends over seafood towers and endless bottles of rosé is a safer activity.
But that doesn’t mean diners need to go without feasting on oysters for the time being: What better time than now to learn how to shuck at home?
A number of local seafood businesses are currently offering home delivery or shipment of oysters and accoutrements. Here are six to try this summer.
Island Creek Oysters
One of the best-known names in local oysters, this Duxbury-based company has various restaurants and raw bars under its umbrella in Boston; Portland, Maine; and beyond. It also ships oysters (not to mention caviar, tinned fish, and more) overnight for free.
Try Island Creek’s namesake oysters or Row 34 and Aunt Dotty varieties in various quantities, as well as convenient package deals with caviar and other goodies. New to oysters? Try the starter pack — two dozen Island Creek oysters, a shucking knife, and shucking gloves for $75, and don’t forget to peruse the salt and sauce options as well. Here’s a video tutorial on how to shuck.
Local pickup is also available at the Duxbury retail shop (296 Parks St.); consult the website for updates regarding COVID-19-era pre-ordering instructions, hours, and such.
East Boston Oysters
Over the past few years, this Boston-based group has earned a reputation for throwing over-the-top, secretive pop-up parties — mostly in mysterious East Boston locations — generally involving oysters, caviar, booze, and plenty of surprises.
Oysters, caviar, lobster rolls kits, and shucking knives are available for home delivery throughout Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, and a few other cities and towns close by. (Those outside of the delivery zone by 10 miles or fewer can still get in on the fun for a $20 fee.) Try the 24-pack for $63: two dozen Glidden Point (Maine) oysters, an East Boston Oysters shucking knife, access to East Boston Oysters’ “how the fuck to shuck” video, and an eight-ounce container of pebre, an irresistible spicy Chilean-style table sauce from Somerville’s empanadas-and-more shop Buenas.
Elsewhere in the country (except for Hawaii and Alaska), oyster enthusiasts can usually order shipments of 36-packs of oysters and jars of caviar, although the 36-pack is currently out of stock. Check back for updates.
Real Oyster Cult
Duxbury-based oyster farmers Rob Knecht and Sims McCormick source oysters from 70 farms around the country for their business Real Oyster Cult, which delivers free around New England (and for up to $42 elsewhere). Shipments go out on Tuesdays and Fridays from the Pangea Shop in Boston’s Seaport District.
Looking to stay local? Try varieties like ROC Reserve, Real Oyster Cult’s own oysters from Duxbury Bay; East Beach Blonde from Rhode Island; and Davenport from Cape Cod. The Real Oyster Cult store also has shucking gloves and knives, lobster roll kits, crab claws, nip-sized bottles of mignonettes, and more.
Here’s Real Oyster Cult’s video tutorial on how to shuck.
Hooked Fish Shop
Hooked Fish Shop, which has a storefront at Somerville’s Bow Market, offers a variety of pickup and local delivery options for its oysters, clams, and other seafood, featuring products from local companies Red’s Best and Boston Smoked Fish Co. Delivery, via Hooked’s partner EverGreen, goes out to various parts of the Greater Boston area three days a week; details and ordering info here. Customers should place orders two days prior to the desired delivery date. Subscriptions are available but not required.
There’s currently a “shuck yourself” combo, featuring a dozen oysters and a shucking knife for $29, and oysters are also available on their own, in half-dozen intervals.
The Quincy fish market and restaurant, around since 1979, delivers locally via the Mercato service, including oysters by the dozen. Other options include lobster ravioli, stuffed clams, seafood chowder, salmon burgers, and more fresh and prepared items.
Captain Marden’s Seafoods
Like Burke’s, this Wellesley-based company includes a restaurant and fish market (as well as a food truck and catering and wholesale services) and delivers locally via Mercato. Duxbury oysters are available, as well as a wide range of other seafoods and products — live lobsters, clams, lobster mac and cheese, crab cakes, crab legs, and more.
- Funky wines from local shops: The Boston area has some great, eclectic little wine shops; some are currently offering delivery. Sibling wine bars Haley.Henry and Nathálie are both currently offering a small selection of bottles for delivery; Haley.Henry’s online shop also includes some tinned fish. Somerville wine bar Rebel Rebel is delivering locally on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays ($50 minimum order and $5 delivery fee). In the South End, the Urban Grape is accepting delivery orders via text.
- Other seafood from Wulf’s Fish: No oysters, but just about any other seafood you could want to amp up your meal, including caviar. This nearly century-old company is based in Boston’s Seaport and is typically known as a wholesaler for restaurants, but like many restaurant suppliers, Wulf’s turned to home delivery during the pandemic. For Boston-area residents, local delivery ($25 fee or free for orders over $200) is available on certain days; order one day ahead of time. Wulf’s is also offering curbside pickup (no fee) at a number of Boston-area locations and shipping around much of the East Coast and a bit beyond (free for orders over $200). Shop here.
- Plates and boards for displaying the oysters: Local potter Jeremy Ogusky creates beautiful plates, bowls, and more that make appearances at quite a few Boston restaurants. Get in touch to inquire about putting together a registry or commissioning custom work, or check his Etsy shop for one-off purchases. Looking for just a single stunning wooden board with an ocean theme? Check out Meghan Surette’s La Marée. The Portland, Maine-based artist works with wood and resin to create gorgeous nautical work, including serving boards perfect for oysters.
- Cookbooks: Check out Eater Boston’s guide to cookbooks tied to local restaurants; several are seafood-centric and will certainly help with your at-home oyster party planning, especially the brand new Eventide Oyster Co. cookbook or older options like Cru Oyster Bar Nantucket Cookbook: Savoring Four Seasons of the Good Life and The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food.