Saturday, August 27, 2016

Do You Like Oysters???

I'll put it plain and simple.  I HATE them!!  Many eons ago in a small village along the coast, I ordered the Fisherman's Plate.  How could I go wrong if everything is fried, right?  Unfortunately for me, I took one bite and discovered the fried oyster was bad ... as in rotten.  Ever since, no oyster has come within three feet of my mouth.  That doesn't mean I'm not fascinated with their production and harvest, I'll just never get close to one again.

So why would I drive up to Oysterville?  Because it's there ... and it's very old!!  The first settler John Douglas came here in 1841 and married a Chinook Indian woman.  This being right on the edge of Willapa Bay, it was the perfect spot to harvest all those oysters when the tide went out.
There are many interesting historical spots around, including the Willapa Bay Interpretive Center, where a geocache just happens to reside.  Although only open on weekends, this building is a replica of an actual fisherman's house, complete with boat.  You can go inside and pretend you are on the water doing the backbreaking work of oyster harvesting.
With the tides out, these two were digging for clams in one of the few public-owned areas.  Most of the land in the bay belongs to oyster farmers, so don't walk out and start collecting.  You just might get arrested!  You CAN however, go on public land and harvest to your hearts content.  Wear old clothes and rubber boots.
Oysterville was a booming little town when the war began.  The locals wanted the County Seat to be in their town.  South Bend thought THEY should be the center of government.  In February of 1893, someone broke in and stole all the records kept in Oysterville and delivered them to South Bend, making it the new County Seat and ending the war.

There are some geocaches here too, in case you want to learn even MORE about the little town.  In 1976 it was put on the National List of Historic Districts.
It happened the church was open the day I visited.  It even has a little wood stove for your comfort.
Built in 1869, this is the Tom Crellin house.  Tom came from the Isle of Man, as did my grandfather.  I can't wait to get back home and check out my genealogy notes.  We may just be related!!  
You could drive through town reading the signs on the fences, but park on one of the grassy side streets and take a leisurely walk.  You'll see sights like this beautiful rose bush growing along the moss covered fence.  
It happened that on this day, world renowned water color artist Eric Wiegardt was having a class in Oysterville.  People come from all over the world to take his classes, which were held on the street this day.  It was pretty cool to see not only the women, but the elder men painting away. 
Around the corner on the bay is Oysterville Sea Farms.  Yup ... another geocache, which I did NOT find.  Otherwise, I would never have entered this building and gathered some more interesting history.  This is actually the old processing plant and cannery.  

Generally, there are two things in the bay when the tide recedes.  Clams, which have long necks or siphons that reach up through the mud to get air (that's why you have to DIG clams), and oysters,    which grow in clumps ABOVE the mud.  You just go out and gather them up off the top.  Sea Farms owns 200 acres here where they farm both natural and seeded oysters.  
Inside there is the original long concrete table used for sorting and bagging.  It's still used to this day to process their oysters for sale in the little shop next door.  They don't break them open any more, it's too labor intensive.  They leave that job to you.  
The first thing I said when I walked in the little store was "sorry, I don't like oysters", just to be sure they didn't offer me any.  I felt much better when the gal said she didn't like them either ... and she WORKS there!!  They do have a wide variety of other things, like cranberry cereal, cranberries, tins of various fishy things along with crackers and bottles of wine, should you want to sit on the back deck and have a snack.  It's amazingly beautiful and SO quiet ... definitely worth the stop.
They also had these pink razor clams that I bought for making clam chowder.  I know ... that's a pretty long leap for a marginal cook.  Even more so when I opened the can to find them whole!!
I took three recipes off the internet, and using my NEW frying pan, fried up half a pound of bacon.  No matter how the soup turns out, bacon will make it right.  Surprisingly it tasted wonderful!!  In the back of my mind, I was ready to haul out my shovel and dig a hole in the sand behind my rig, but it didn't happen.  It was even better the second day!!
At any rate, Oysterville is full of history and a great place to spend the day in peace and quiet.  Don't forget to check out Sea farms.

I'll be all over the peninsula today.  I want to hit the Oysterville store, which is only open on weekends, and I've been invited to a Tiffin Owners potluck in the park today.  VERY nice people, but that means I have to cook something since most of the chowder is gone.  THAT means a trip to the store!

So far, it's blustery and raining ... if you want diversified weather, 80 yesterday, 56 this morning, come to the Long Beach Peninsula!!


  1. Well somebody that grew up in New England has always been around shellfish and fin fish I will tell you honestly oysters
    they're nasty little suckers
    No I don't begrudge anybody for eating them you do your thing
    Yeah I'll give you a little information it,s short and sweet
    Next time you go and you have clam chowder One really need to ask yourself what is the clam in the clan chowder
    Look up the word sea clam and that's your answer
    It is a winter harvest from Cape Cod Bay to the Georgia banks from Maine to Rhode Island
    Miss Nancy question you to ask,,the next time you go back there,,ask them 2 questions one do they make their own clam chowder or oyster stew or do they eat it out in a restaurant and listen to their answer
    If the first question is oh yes try to con a recipe out of them
    And I hope you noticed I didn't call it oyster chowder
    See if you can guess what The difference is between A chowder and a stew

    I will give you a hint,,, it is only one ingredient
    Only FISHerman would know the answer

    1. I'm guessing stew has other FISH in it. I'll pass if it has oysters!

  2. It has to do a lot with the cost and availability

    It's fish,,, in the old New England days fish chowder was usually the staple and it was usually whatever they catch at the time
    If they happen to be lucky to get clams that day that also would go in to the chowder
    So most old-timers thank God there's not many around would put in fish and clams into their chowder some of the old cooks still do it today

    Now with an oyster stew the reason why they don't put fish in it because you're putting in the whole oyster belly and all The two don't make a good combination
    And you can eat oyster crackers with either or The tiny cracker is used to absorb the butter in the stew But the oyster itself is best with saltine crackers And you ask why very simple The oyster goes on top of the saltine cracker and you eat it as one

    A little sidenote if you take ANY clam Steam it up
    Take the belly off the clam,, make a chowder stew or fried. and you can't tell the difference (guaranteed)
    This is why I suggested butter clams as a first choice steamers as a second
    Small cherrystone clams as a third
    A very good reputable seafood market will tell you how to steam tham
    one can of beer (no water )is all you need to steam