It's the absolute best time to be outdoors, when some of our unique landscapes come brilliantly alive
Technically, you can eat oysters in summer. But come glorious fall, the rains add fresh water to the sea, temperatures cool, spawning dissipates, and once again all the crooked inlets and rocky beaches of Washington’s Puget Sound offer up their beautifully broad array of oysters, from funky to crystalline. Here are the varieties prized by local chefs this time of year:
Hammersley Inlet. There’s a grassy green note along with brine and butter in Pacific oysters from the lower Sound’s Hammersley Inlet, no doubt thanks to the algae-rich waters down south. Blaine Wetzel, chef at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, loves the variety’s deep cup, which fosters plump, sweet meat. $150 prix fixe; 2579 West Shore Dr.; 360/758-2620.
Kumamoto. This Japanese transplant, grown mostly in Oakland Bay, is “a bit creamy, a bit sweet, and not too big,” says Xinh Dwelley, who runs Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House, Taylor Shellfish Farms’ restaurant in Shelton. “People think I’m crazy, but if you chew them, rather than swallow them whole, you really get to taste the flavor.” $$$; 221 W. Railroad Ave.; 360/427-8709.