The Incredible Cape Cod Oyster

Each year the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Cummaquid on Cape Cod,, under Sanctuary Director Ian Ives, hosts walking tours of a Barnstable Oyster Farm along with an oyster tasting.  The current tours are all filled but watch our Events feature on the website for future tours.  Meanwhile, enjoy a little oyster trivia and a fabulous recipe.








Did you know that the cultivation of oysters began more than 2,000 years ago in Rome?    Oysters were a staple food for Native Americans.  100 years ago, oyster harvests exceeded 10 million bushels a year.  These days they are not as plentiful – why?  mostly because we ate them.  Today, farming oysters is a big business.  It’s a business that’s great for the environment – oysters feed on algae and filter the water.  Long term, oysters    have the potential to dramatically improve water quality.  Plus they are sooo good!              

And, in case you didn’t know, oysters are also an aphrodisiac.  It’s said that Casanova (a famous 18th century lover) ate 50 oysters for breakfast every day.  Take a look at one of Cape Cod’s fabulous oyster farms:  Barnstable Seafarms owned by Les Hemmila.  And enjoy one of our favorite oyster recipes from “The New Irish Table“.

Baked Rock Oysters with Bacon, Cabbage and Guinness Sabayon
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup Guinness stout
Dash of fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
4 outer green cabbage leaves, finely shredded                                                                       
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 slices Irish or Canadian bacon, chopped
24 oysters in the shell

In a double boiler, whisk egg yolks, Guinness, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Place over barely simmering water and whisk 3 to 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and gradually drizzle in melted butter until sauce is well blended.

Cook cabbage in salted boiling water 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly wilted.  Drain and immerse in cold water.  Drain again.

In small skillet over medium heat, heat oil.  Cook bacon until crisp.  Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Shuck oysters over small bowl.  Reserve deeper half of each shell and rinse under cold water.  Place shells on a bed of rock salt in a small baking sheet with sides.  Divide cabbage among the shells, put an oyster on top of each and sprinkle bacon over oysters.  Spoon some of the sabayon over each.  Place under pre-heated boiler 4 inches from heat and cook for about 3 minutes, or until sauce is browned and bubbling.  Makes 4 servings.

Bon Appetit!!!

Mussels Mariniere

Elsa Sampou has lived on Cape Cod in West Barnstable for close to 30 years.  She and her husband Andre bought an old 1780 house that cried out for love and attention with a hope that this would be a great gathering place for their large family.

They have not been disappointed as over the years there’s been many celebrations and parties.  Before coming to the Cape, Elsa was not a fan of shellfish at all, but of course, once here, and husband Andre being a hunter/gatherer, they were soon checking out the gifts from the sea.  Clamming was top priority but then one day they kayaked out of Barnstable Harbor to a place called Mussel Point; this was a long time ago when the colony of mussels was abundant.  They came home with an enormous “catch”.  The job of cleaning them was left to Andre and the cooking left to Elsa.  The best recipe she found was for Mussels Mariniere.  There are many ways to prepare mussels, mostly steaming them in wine and seasoning them either spicy or creamy.  They are also a great addition to other seafood dishes, sitting among shrimp, lobster, scallops or clams – a gourmet feast!

Over the last few months we have posted a sampling of recipes from “The B.A.R.S. Book of Favorite Shellfish Recipes”.  These recipes are from members of the B.A.R.S. Board of Directors, their families, friends, and associates.  The cookbook includes Appetizers, Soups, Main Courses, Desserts and This & That.  There are helpful cooking hints throughout this very unique Cape Cod cookbook.

“The B.A.R.S. Book of Favorite Shellfish Recipes” is available for $17.00 by clicking this link to the B.A.R.S. website   All proceeds from this cookbook go to  scholarships and the promotion of the BARS Mission Statement.

For further information on BARS and its Mission Statement go to

Now enjoy Elsa Sampou’s recipe for Mussels Mariniere!!!

Mussels Mariniere

2 Tbls flour
5 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbls onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups white wine
2-4 dozen mussels
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 Tbls Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

In a small bowl, blend flour and 3 tablespoons butter together with a fork until smooth.  Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom saute pan with a lid that fits tightly.  Add garlic, onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring for a few minutes.  Add white wine and bring to a boil.  Add mussels, cover and cook until shells open.

Discard any unopened shells.  Remove mussels from liquid with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.  Bring liquid to a boil and remove from heat.  Quickly add flour and butter mixture and put back on the heat, whisking constantly.  Bring mixture to a boil until it thickens.  Cook for another minute or two to cook out the taste of raw flour.  Reduce heat to low.  Add cream, mustard and egg yolks.  Heat to warm, stirring constantly.  Don’t bring back to a boil or the eggs might curdle.  Pour sauce over mussels and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Add generous slices of crusty french bread for dipping into the sauce.  Yum!  C’est merveilleux!

A delicious gift for any occasion – Anniversaries, Birthdays, Holidays, or just to say Thank You, is a Gift Certificate from these great Cape Cod Restaurants. A gift that is never returned.