One of the nicest Oysters we see all year is the Lameque, coming from Miscou in NE New Brunswick. The larger body of water is the Baie de Chaleur (Bay of Heat, ahh), but in fact, the Lameque oyster is about as cold-water as an oyster can get. Any colder, and the oyster cannot reproduce, as the summer temperature doesn’t get high enough to to stimulate that phase in an oyster’s annual cycle.
Seafood that comes from colder waters typically has a higher fat content. Fat, of course, is what makes things delicious (see: Cote de Boeuf; Pork Belly; Butter). Lameques have a beautiful crispness to the flavour, mild but salty. The meat is nice and shell-filling, with a firm texture.
We see a couple of grades at the Oyster House, the ‘Cocktail’ and the ‘Verte.’ This is the Verte:
The Verte is typically about 3″ (larger than the cocktail). This particular specimen doesn’t have quite as much of the green algae that give it its name.
There’s a nice thickness to the shell – this is an oyster that wants to be shucked. Yvon Chiasson, the farmer, leaves these on the bottom to toughen up for a good stretch of their lives, and as a result they have a nice hard thick shell that’s easy to open. Unlike exclusively tray-raised oysters, a bottom-finished oyster tends to open more easily as it is not so brittle.
Lameques are in-House for about 8 months of the year. Despite the cold water he has to work with, Yvon doesn’t sell them in the summer. But they’re back on our beds and looking beautiful for the Fall and Winter. The Vertes are a 250-count Oyster – 250 to the box – so when we’re washing them we’ve usually got a good supply. If you were to informally poll our staff, they would probably elect the Lameque as the favourite ‘year-round’ Oyster that we see (the Sand Dune winning the title of ‘Best Oyster,’ despite the fact that we only get about 5000 a year. But Sand Dunes are for a subsequent post).