This is a fabulous example of bringing the Farm-to-Table Movement from the bay to the table! Black Restaurant Group Chefs/Owners Jeff and Barbara Black are excited to announce that they are collaborating with oyster farmers Bruce Wood and Dan Grosse of Toby Island Bay Oysters in Chincoteague, Virginia, and Travis and Ryan Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC in Topping, Virginia to develop two special oysters that will be available exclusively at four of their area restaurants.
The oysters will first be presented in September at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace’s one-year anniversary party with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Food & Friends on behalf of the Black’s Family Foundation. Patrons can expect to find the new oysters on menus at BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Black Jack and Black’s Bar & Kitchen in the fall of 2012. Additionally, all four locations will start collecting spent oyster shells to be put back into the local Virginia waters, helping to create new oyster habitats to conserve the precious wild oyster population.
Jeff and Barbara Black’s newest oysters, Old Black Salts and Black Pearls, are being raised off Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Chincoteague Bay is a high-salinity estuary on the ocean side of Virginia's Eastern Shore. This area imparts a taste that starts briny and has a sweet and nutty finish. Bruce Wood also runs Dragon Creek Shellfish, an oyster farm on Virginia's Northern Neck, on the Chesapeake's Western Shore. Dragon Creek and Toby Island Bar Oysters both have roughly 35 acres of water rights and have set over 750,000 new oysters over the past six years.
Rappahannock Oyster Oysters, LLC has become one of the world’s premier oyster companies – with a history dating back 112 years, owners who have been recognized as top food talents by Food & Wine Magazine, and a namesake oyster listed as “One of a Dozen Oysters You Should Know” by the industry bible, A Geography of Oysters. In the 10 years since current owners (and cousins) Travis and Ryan Croxton took the reigns at Rappahannock, the company has led nothing short of a Chesapeake Bay renaissance – taking the Bay oyster, which had been relegated to commodity markets, and placing it proudly on the best menus in the world. And where there were no companies in the Bay area practicing sustainable aquaculture, there are now dozens,which is incredibly beneficial to the health of the Bay and all the species it supports.
With several hundred acres throughout the Chesapeake Bay, including 20 pristine acres across the Black Narrows straits in Chincoteague Bay where the Black Salts will be reared and raised, the Croxtons are continuing to push the envelope to bring the Chesapeake back to its rightful place as the oyster capital of the world. Black Salts will be among the briniest oysters on the market, with a sweet finish – a one-two punch that is uniquely characteristic of the fast moving ocean waters of Black Narrows.
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