Thursday, June 7, 2012

RFC Visits Merroir at Rappahannock River Oysters

A few of the RFC ladies enjoyed a lovely afternoon at Rappahannock River Oysters tasting room this past weekend. Not hard to find but beautifully hidden, it sits at the end of an unassuming road that looks out over the Rappahannock River. This is a fabulous day trip from Richmond.
We were not at all sure what we'd find on the menu.  They admit to a decidedly low internet presence- you can find only the basics on their facebook page.  Now, I grew up watching my family put away raw oysters by the dozen, but I am a somewhat recent convert to these briny, slimy little guys myself. But it seems you either love them or hate them. To be honest, I was a little nervous to be leading my non-oyster loving friends down a country road that leading to our local oyster mecca. I promptly ordered some raw "Olde Salts" (my personal favorite) and set to work. I think the "when in Rome" mentality started to set in, and after some mild coaxing, a bit of taunting and some old fashioned bravery I may have converted at least one of us that day.

View of the river from Merrior
The company is a legacy dating back to 1899.  Today it is owned and run by Travis and Ryan Croxton, grandsons of the original owners. They have successfully revived the family business and have succeeded in making Bay oysters known not just locally, but with a large, much acclaimed following on the national culinary scene.
Beautiful plate of fresh raw oysters"Olde Salts" 
RRO proudly cultivates and serves only Crassostrea virginica, an oyster native to the Chesapeake Bay. The tasting room offers oysters raw and roasted, as well as fresh steamed shrimp and clams. A lovely sampling of local (and non local) beer and wine, the Rose we ordered paired beautifully with the oysters. And the small plates menu offered seafood along with local meats and produce. We were pleasantly surprised and impressed with their offerings.

Grilling done outside on the patio...nearly table- side.
The RRO primarily produces three types of oysters. 
The original is the Rappahannok River Oyster described as, "Deep cupped and mineral rich, with an understated saltiness that lets the oyster's natural flavor come though, our Rappahannocks offer up a sweet, buttery, full-bodied taste with a refreshingly clean, crisp finish. It's the very same oyster we started growing in 1899."
Second is the Stingray Oyster, "Drawn from the pristine waters of Mobjack Bay, Stingrays are the quintessential Chesapeake Bay oyster: sweet and mildly briny with a clean, crisp finish. Named after the Bay oyster's chief predator, these Stingrays bite back!"
And last, my personal favorite, the Olde Salts, "The truest taste of the ocean, our Olde Salt oyster brings together a bold sea-side brininess with a smooth, clean follow-through. Grown off the coast of Chincoteague (think Misty), our Olde Salt oyster is more than a classic, it’s a legend."
So whether or not I managed to convert the oyster skeptics among us, I think RRO and Merroir make a fabulous day trip. And if you just can't make it to the river you can order online here, or look for them in a local grocery near you! We have also learned that there will be a new Merroir tasting room coming to RVA in September!  Read all about this development here.


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