After decades in decline, oysters are making a comeback in Virginia, a resurgence wholly evident around town. If the oyster's popularity continues at this pace, it's rumored that the Maury monument's globe will be replaced with the bronze likeness of a calcified oyster shell and lemon garnish.
Two Virginia ventures in particular — Rappahannock River Oysters and the newer Anderson's Neck Oyster Company — are leading the charge, bringing oyster populations back to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and selling the bivalves nationwide.
Richmond is fast becoming an oyster city, so it's only proper we create our own oyster recipe. Oysters Rockefeller is fine, but let's be honest: It's made for billionaire oil tycoons. We need an Oysters Richmond — a true Virginia concoction to celebrate our city's love of the Crassostrea virginica. Here's a suggestion.
• A bushel basket of oysters. Each person requires a minimum of six dozen in a single shucking event; plan accordingly. (Buy at rroysters.com or andersonsneck.com.)
• Beer; local craft preferred
• Inner tube
• Instagram app
• Tabasco sauce
• Lemon wedges
1. When the oysters arrive, inspect the bushel, then snap a whimsical Instagram photo of the shellfish, as eating oysters is no fun unless friends and strangers know about it. The Valencia filter is recommended, along with the tag #rvadine.
2. Wedge the bushel basket into an inner tube and go floating down the James with your oysters. Explain to the oysters that these very waters flow into the Chesapeake Bay, where they were born. Exit at Reedy Creek.
3. Drive the oysters to the Libby Hill lookout and take in the view, as, in addition to their natural filtration of up to 50 gallons of water and algae each day, bivalves enjoy scenic overlooks. Also a good spot for another Instagram shot.
4. Paint a hip, colorful mural onto the oyster's shell.
5. As oysters are a great source of omega-3s, Google "omega-3" to find out what that is, as it's likely neither you nor the oyster know. While you're at it, swing by that Maury statue and see if the oyster knows what that guy did to deserve a monument.
6. Tell the oysters that, despite your fun times together, you are now going to eat all of them. Fire up a charcoal grill. Laugh maniacally if you wish.
7. Call up some good-looking people to come over and eat oysters to test whether they are really an aphrodisiac.
8. Open up a case of Hardywood or Center of the Universe craft beer. Begin drinking with your (hopefully attractive) friends.
9. Wake up three hours later after having passed out; realize the charcoal has burned out, but the oysters are still on ice. Eat your Oysters Richmond raw with a dash of Tabasco. Spritz with lemon wedge.