Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Pourhouse Points': a house oyster at Growlers

Growlers Pourhouse now has its own "house oyster": It's called a Pourhouse Point, it's what's called a triploid, and it's being grown just outside Harker's Island in floating baskets, one of several techniques used to bring young oysters (called spat) to edible maturity.
Paul Manley (left), partner in the restaurant, says he has relied on Gulf oysters for years in various ventures, and found them inconsistent (for lots of reasons, including weather and diminished amounts of product). He pursued the idea of working with someone to come up with a particular oyster to be served on the half shell: He wanted a deep (shell) cup with a sturdy top shell that wouldn't sliver or flake when you open it, medium body and a medium-high salt finish. (Oyster lovers can rival wine geeks in descriptive terms, but Manley keeps it pretty simple.)
He says he worked with James Morris Jr., a scientist who does research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to choose the strain and develop the process. Triploid oysters are sterile, so they don't get "spawny" (milky) in summer or "spawned out" (reduced in size) in fall the way reproducing diploids do.
They are Crassostrea virginicus (the Eastern oyster) and are spawned in a Virginia hatchery, then planted at the N.C. coast spot.
"It's the best N.C. oyster I've had," says Manley. On the half shell at Growlers, they're $10 for six, $17 per dozen (cheaper than the Bluepoints and Beausoleils that go for $19 a dozen). The sibling Crepe Cellar is also using them, in a Rockefeller-like appetizer using brie, spinach and Coppa Americana that's six for $12.
Growlers: 3120 N. Davidson St.; 704-910-6566.