|Tommy Clark with a shipment being loaded for New York's Fulton Fish Market.|
Within an hour, a truck load was on its way so that diners could enjoy them tonight and tomorrow.
We got to see the lab because the hatchery was inactive. So delicate is this process that if one person wearing perfume enters it can wipe out a whole batch.
|The oyster nursery.|
Oysters are bred here in the lab where microscopically small oyster larva is introduced to sand grain-sized oyster shell in aerated water. The larva attaches itself to the shell and begins life in a tank of water. Later, the youngsters will be taken to deep water to live, grow and be harvested in two years for small oysters, four to five years for large ones. Leave them alone and they can live for up to 23 years.
Hmm, do old oysters get tough? Didn't think to ask.
|Oysters and clams waiting to be harvested.|
Because of their track record for safe growing and harvesting, Tom's has permission to keep a one-week supply on hand in case of bad weather.
The "baskets," kept in waters off the dock, weigh 80 pounds apiece and are moved to the shore as needed for gathering and shipping.
|Harvesting. Photo by Debi Lander.|
|Hopkins & Bros. Store, Onancock.|
After lunch next door it was on to Ker (pronounced "car") Place, headquarters of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society.
A fine Federal period Georgian style home, it was built between 1799 and 1803 by the rich merchant farmer John Shepherd Ker and his wife, Agnes Corbin Ker. It has been restored to its original appearance from the woodwork to the colors of the painted faux finishes.
During the day, Debi managed to continue the oyster theme by trying on the togs of an oysterman,
|Ready to battle bivalves.|
Cape Charles was our final stop. Awaiting us was the brand new, handsomely appointed contemporary Hotel Cape Charles tucked unobtrusively into the downtown facade.
Oh, for a bottle of wine and time to sit on the cozy balcony that comes with each room and watch the inaction on the street, but we pressed on. An amble down the main street was followed by a look at a few of the town's many attractive B & Bs. A brief glance at Cape Charles Beach and it was time to walk over to the bay for dinner at The Shanty.
|Soft shelled crab.|
What a treat and we knew it, having learned from Tom that morning that shuckers, the small-sizes used for cooking, sell for $40 a bushel while the big singles go for $100-$140 a bushel.
We left full of appreciation for the soft, salty bivalves and the generous, welcoming inhabitants of Virginia's Eastern Shore.