Tag Archive | "oysters"

Topping Rose House Offers Summer Specials

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Throughout the summer, the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton will be offering dinner specials, weekday prixe fixe lunches and a weekend oyster bar.

This weekend, for its Summer Farm Dinner series, the restaurant will host a fish fry. The dinner series will be offered on Sunday nights throughout July and August and include a three-course, family-style meal with local beer and wine. Each dinner will rotate between “Grill Night,” which features meat, fish and local produce, “Fish Fry,” with locally caught fish and shellfish, and “Farm the Farm,” a vegetarian menu. The dinner is $95 a person and includes tax and gratuity. Reservations should be e-mailed to mpoore@craftrestaurant.com.

Weekdays, from noon to 2 p.m., the restaurant will offer a seasonal three-course prix fixe menu. Meals will include favorite summer produce such as snow peas, radishes, mizuna and ricotta salata with preserved lemon vinaigrette and a garden strawberry sundae with cream cheese ice cream and shortbread.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the Topping Rose House will offer local oysters and other shellfish and a glass of their signature rosé on the back patio.

For more information, call (631) 537-0870 or visit www.toppingrosehouse.com.


Shellfishing Closed in Sag Harbor Cove After Toxin is Detected

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Photo courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Sag Harbor and Upper Sag Harbor Coves have been closed for the harvesting of shellfish until further notice. This news came after the state discovered a marine biotoxin in the coves last week. The toxin — saxitoxin — can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

On Thursday, April 26 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed the 490 acres of the coves and their tributaries west of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

According to DEC officials, the decision to close the area to shellfishing came after the toxin was discovered in shellfish collected from a monitoring site in Sag Harbor Cove.

In addition to shellfish, residents are also prohibited from harvesting carnivorous gastropods like conch as those creatures feed on shellfish and may also have accumulated the toxin at levels that are hazardous to human health.

According to a spokesperson with the regional office of the DEC, Aphrodite Montalvo, the toxin discovered in Sag Harbor Cove is a neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring algae such as Alexandrium, a marine dinoflagellate that is often attributed to the notorious red tide.

The species is most commonly found in environments with high nitrogen levels.

In the last year, both Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister and Dr. Christopher Gobler, an associate professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, have presented findings showing that the increased density of residential development across Long Island has spiked nitrogen levels in waters leading to both red and brown tides.

Earlier in April, DEC closed areas in western Shinnecock Bay as well as Northport Harbor and parts of Northport Bay for the harvesting of shellfish for the same reason. Those bodies of water remain closed.

According to Montalvo, the DEC will test shellfish in the coves sometime this week. Following guidelines from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP), Montalvo said the DEC will need to produce three clean tests on shellfish in Sag Harbor Cove over a two week period before it can open the area to shellfish harvesting again.

Areas that have tested positive for toxins, added Montalvo, are sampled weekly by the DEC. Currently, said Montalvo, the DEC has 18 monitoring sites around Long Island set up each early spring before algae blooms are expected to occur. Those stations are tested weekly until the blooms decline, which usually happens in late June or early July depending on the temperature of the water.

The DEC also receives oyster samples from two aquaculture facilities for regular testing, said Montalvo.

For the many families raising oysters in Sag Harbor Cove, Montalvo said that during the closure residents should be mindful that shellfish that take in the algae can accumulate enough toxin in their flesh to be harmful if consumed with the potential to cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. However, she added that being filter feeders, once the algae bloom dissipates the shellfish will filter the toxin out of its flesh as it takes in clean water and will be safe for consumption over time.

In its news release last week, the DEC said it would re-open areas to shellfishing as soon as possible based on the results of further testing. For updates on the closure, call the DEC’s hotline at 444-0480 or contact the DEC’s main shellfishing office at 444-0475.

The Oyster Club Comes to Sag Harbor

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When summer wanes and the winter chill sets in, Bay Burger proprietor Joe Tremblay always finds he has more time on his hands. Instead of spending these months unwinding, though, Tremblay can be found researching eco-friendly septic tanks, participating in 725 GREEN meetings or visiting up-island waste management sites.
Now, with help from the Cornell Cooperative’s Southold Project on Aquaculture Training (SPAT), Tremblay is starting an Oyster Club for waterfront property owners on Sag Harbor Cove in the hopes of helping them farm their own oysters. The club isn’t solely focused on the culinary aspect of raising and feasting upon this shellfish delicacy. Tremblay hopes the group will change residents’ attitudes toward the Peconic Estuary.
“I think this is a great way to engage waterfront property owners in the water that they live on,” opined Tremblay. “The water is degraded because everyone is polluting it just a little bit, so we can only fix the problem by having everyone work on it.”
“If I can get the majority of waterfront homeowners ‘tending a garden’ in the cove or eating seafood from the cove, then it’s in their own personal best interest to care about how they and their neighbors might negatively impact the cove,” added Tremblay.
East End waters are subject to a host of environmental problems, said Tremblay, including the recent brown tides. Everything from lawn pesticides to storm water runoff can harm the delicate ecosystem of the cove. Tremblay says these problems may be to blame for the water’s murky quality in the summer and a substantial loss of eelgrass, which shellfish like scallops depend on for their survival.
Will Kirchoff, who attended the club’s introductory meeting at Bay Burger on Sunday, May 3, noted that water quality has drastically declined since his youth.
“I remember as a kid coming out here and the water was crystal clear. You could see eight feet down, even in the summer,” Kirchoff remembers. “We need to try and bring the harbor back … a lot of people are taking this beauty for granted but we can’t just take, take, take.”
Revitalizing the oyster population is one piece, albeit an important one, in the puzzle of clarifying the cove’s waters. Because oysters are filter feeders, they often digest pollutants and thus help purify the water. Kim Tetrault, who runs the Southold Cooperative, told Tremblay that all the water in the Chesapeake Bay was filtered through the guts of oysters at least once a day when the estuary was at its peak, but it now takes almost 135 days for the water to be fully filtered. The depopulation of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as in Sag Harbor Cove, can be attributed in part to over harvesting. Tremblay said sightings of wild oysters in the cove today is a rarity akin to spotting a whale from the beach.
With the support of the Oyster Club’s 22 members, Tremblay hopes to reverse this trend. Each member will receive 1,000 seed oysters. The gear, mainly consisting of a cage to house the oysters, the necessary training and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permits are all included in the annual dues: $250 for the first year and $150 each additional year.
These oyster-growing accoutrements are all provided by SPAT, though Tremblay has offered to make a run up to Southold and pick up gear and oyster seeds for everyone involved. For now, the DEC is issuing permits only to waterfront property owners. Members without access to the water can harvest their oysters at the Southold station. A few cove property owners have stepped forward and will allow members to attach oyster cages to their docks. Tremblay said members should expect to yield between 75 to 80 percent of their total seed, which translates into a sizable number of oysters.
Tremblay maintains, however, that most members aren’t joining for the pleasure of noshing on the fruits of their labor. He referenced a survey conducted by SPAT which noted, on average, that eating oysters was only the eighth most popular reason to join the cooperative.
“I actually don’t eat oysters,” said Kirchoff at the meeting on Sunday. “I wanted to help the local environment.”
Southampton Town also jumped on this initiative and will allow 40 town residents to place oyster cages off a dock in Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.
Tremblay’s club will host monthly educational lectures, including “Water Quality, Brown Tides and Harmful Algae” in July and “Configuring and Maintaining Oyster Gardens” in June. On Sunday, members asked questions on how to open oysters. Tremblay said a cooking class could be scheduled down the line and hosted at his restaurant.
In the upcoming summer months, as the club learns to deep fry these shellfish treats or winterize their oyster garden, Tremblay hopes the group will have a positive impact on the local environment.
“This kind of environmentalism speaks to me,” he said. “You can see results in my lifetime. If we can act locally and improve water quality in Sag Harbor Cove, then maybe other sub-estuaries will see us as a model.”