Bring Oysters Home for the Holidays:
Day Trip Idea to Virginia’s River Realm
Oysters have been a staple during the holiday season for hundreds of years here. When settlers first arrived during the 16th and 17th centuries, our river beds were so full of oysters that many boats couldn’t pass through specific areas. Once explorers stepped off the boats, they quickly discovered Native Americans roasting oysters. The sustainable, nutritious, and delicious food source has graced plates and palettes ever since.
Oysters continue to thrive here, especially with the introduction of aquaculture. Today, our region is home to 31 oyster farmers, seafood markets, and dozens of incredible restaurants. As you plan out your holiday gatherings, we invite you to fill your tables and tummies with the freshest oysters you can find. Take a day trip to enjoy them prepared at one of our restaurants and pick up oysters to bring home to your kitchen. We’re just a short drive from anywhere in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. Indulge yourself in fresh air, seafood, and views you can’t find anywhere else.
Where To Eat When You’re Here
Fuel your adventures during your trip to the River Realm. Enjoy small plates and full meals featuring oysters from our region’s waters. While you’re at it, indulge in locally sourced fish, crab, mussels, scallops, and other seafood.
World-class chefs make their homes here so they can work with the freshest of ingredients. Each eatery features one-of-a-kind culinary creations inspired by their diverse backgrounds. We’re talking dishes like oyster tacos from Dredge, an Oyster Fritter Burger from Portside Grill in Urbanna, and buffalo oysters from Willaby’s Cafe in White Stone.
For all the foodie ideas, visit our Foodie section of the blog. We have dining ideas for any traveler.
Where To Get Oysters To Go
Locally own and operated family oyster companies have been fueling our restaurants and riverside cookouts with oysters for decades. For example, Ellery Kellum opened Kellum Seafood in 1948. Today, it’s led by Ellery’s great-grandson Tommy as well as his brothers. Recently, the Kellum family opened a market in Irvington called Kellum Farms Produce & Seafood. The market is one of many in the area that carry locally sourced oysters. You can also find sauces, prepared foods, craft beer, local wine, crafts, decor, and more. They’re experts, too! Ask your storage, preparation, and serving questions while you’re there.
Visit the websites of seafood companies like J & W Seafood, Rappahannock Oyster Company, White Stone Oysters, Chesapeake Bay Oysters to pick out what you’re craving and have it shipped to you to prepare in your kitchen. To see a full list of seafood markets, click here.
How To Shuck Your Oysters
You can take home pre-shucked oysters that are ready for cooking. Of course, if your oysters are still in the shell, you’ll have to get them out! For many, it’s part of the fun. Lucky for us, we’re home to oyster shucking pros like Deborah Pratt. She’s an international champ. She broke down how to shuck an oyster in this blog post. You’ll see that you need tools like a shucking knife and gloves to get started. Begin by entering your knife at the “hinge” of the oyster and then wriggle it around the opening. Eventually, use your knife as a lever to pop it open! Be sure to detach the oyster from the shell before plating them if you are serving raw.
How To Prepare Your Oysters
Raw, roasted, baked, fried, stewed, and stuffed–oysters are a versatile protein. This Virginia Living article outlined some recipes from some of our local chefs, including oyster pot pie, oyster stew, and stuffin muffins! We have more recipes where these came from. Three local chefs and oyster farmers shared comforting holiday recipes in this blog post.
Share Your Oyster Finds + Creations
You’ll have a hard time not wanting to snap photos of our oysters and the meals they inspire. We want to see your holiday snacks and feasts. Tag us using @virginiasriverrealm, and we’ll share your photos of your favorite foodie shots.
Virginia’s River Realm is an enchanting travel destination along the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay. We invite visitors to explore delicious delicacies, seductive views, and luxurious experiences served with a side of friendly, small-town spirit. Drive, boat, or bike along 465 miles of shoreline as you discover eight colorful small towns and hundreds of one-of-a-kind attractions. Get to know the wonder and history behind our most cherished resource: the oyster. Bring your friends and family along on the adventure as you catch your breath, calm your mind, and live your dreams.