Shell recycling restaurants in the Chesapeake region are offering special deals and new oyster recipes for National Oyster Weekend. Photo: Blackwall Hitch

Slurp Up Here for National Oyster Weekend

National Oyster Day is officially Thursday, Aug. 5, but why not extend it to a whole weekend here on the Chesapeake Bay? After all, we’ve got enough places to slurp oysters for days.

That was the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s (ORP) thinking in launching its National Oyster Weekend event, happening from the 5th through Sunday the 8th.

Nearly 40 restaurants from Maryland to Virginia are offering deals on bivalves ($1 oysters is a popular one) and even creative new oyster dishes throughout the long weekend. All the restaurants involved are members of ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance, which means they’re committed to saving the discarded oyster shells their diners leave behind, donating them back to ORP as habitat for new baby oysters to grow on.

National Oyster Day is ORP’s way of thanking its partner restaurants and encouraging us oyster-eaters to spend our dining dollars with them. “These Bay-friendly businesses are critical partners in our shell recycling and oyster restoration efforts, so don’t be shy about slurping!” the organization says.

The Irish Restaurant Company, who participates in shell recycling with all four of its Chesapeake Bay region restaurants, is offering surprising ways to dress up oysters like an Irish Ale Shallot Mignonette, a Spicy Chili Lime Mignonette, a Chow Chow Mignonette, and a Chimichurri Mignonette.

Steve Hardison, executive chef of Pirate’s Cove, Galway Bay, and Killarney House, all in Anne Arundel County, tells Bay Bulletin, “Oysters have a long history as one of Marylanders’ favorite dishes. Besides being a great start to a meal, they’re an important resource for our local watermen and communities. So we support the Oyster Recovery Partnership in their work. “

Hardison sources some of the oysters from 38 North in St. Mary’s County, which he praises as being consistently firm, meaty and delicious.

Maryland’s Best Seafood, the state’s agriculture arm that encourages people to eat local catches, is sponsoring National Oyster Weekend.

As Hardison puts it, “We’re supporting a healthy Bay, local business, and we’re providing good eating to our customers. Everyone wins.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano