I should have known better than to order oysters after our waitress at Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine didn’t know that bivalves could be harvested from waters all over the world. She thought they all came from Maryland.
I ordered six anyway from the seafood restaurant inside the dizzying Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. I mean, come on. There was a gurgling little creek running right beside the indoor deck that led to the restaurant, not to mention a wide river just outside Moon Bay’s massive picture windows. Certainly this place knew a thing or two about oysters in the kitchen, even if the wait staff didn’t know squat on the dining room floor.
The half-dozen specimens placed before me indicated otherwise. Once the waitress checked with the kitchen, she informed me that these were Wellfleets, those Cape Cod Bay bivalves that Moon Bay was peddling for $2.50 an oyster. The shells were covered in algae, and one shell even had a twig of underwater plant life still clinging to it (see picture above).
The dirty shell added a distinct algae flavor to the Wellfleet, as my bottom lip came into contact with the green-colored cup that held the briny oyster. That wasn’t the worst of it, though. The bivalve tasted like fish left on a wharf for a week. As I told my tablemate later, it would take someone with no sense of smell to have the chutzpah to send these oysters out for human consumption.
I related this story to a local chef who sells his share of oysters on the half shell. He said that a woman in his restaurant once ate a fishy oyster, and after he got wind of it, he suggested that she go to the hospital and get her stomach pumped. He’d pay for it.
I felt like I wanted mine pumped, too.