WEST SPRINGFIELDThe prospect of eating an oyster has always really freaked me out. They are not appealing to look at, they’re slimy and were never really on my list of things to try.
Well, oysters have come to the Big E and everyone has been raving about the Matunuck Oyster Bar, the fair’s latest food attraction. So, when brothers John and Scott Ansart of Skip’s Outdoor Accents invited me to try the oysters because they are “the best,” I figured I would give it a shot.
The idea of fish at a fair can make people a little skeptical. How do you keep it fresh? Rest assured Matunuck only serves high quality product and the oysters are driven in fresh from Rhode Island every morning. Owner Perry Raso is committed to the aquaculture industry and only uses the best ingredients. Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, especially fish, shellfish, and seaweed, in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments.
Cook Jeff Anderson was my personal oyster shucker for the afternoon and gave me some tips on how to eat it.
“Some people like to add the hot sauce and lemon. I prefer to eat them fresh, just a bit of lemon, so you can really taste the oyster,” he said. “You can chew it, but most people just eat it in one gulp.”
Initially I opted for the hot sauce and it was not a pleasant experience. I didn’t really taste anything but the sauce. For my second oyster I opted for just a sprinkle of lemon and it was a much better experience. You can taste the sea when you eat these oysters which happen to be really small and pulpy. There was a saltiness and a bit of sweetness that made these little slimy things addictive. I ended up eating about six of them.
Jeff also offered me the fish and chip platter, some fried whole belly clams, cocktail shrimp and lightly fried scallops. All of it was phenomenal.
I am a big fish fan to begin with so I went into this tasting with high expectations, but I was really impressed with the quality of the food and the service, not just to me but every customer that came through.
Jeff said they have had steady business every day so far at the fair and hope to come back next year.
“It’s been a great experience. People have been really nice and they love the food,” he said.
Eastern States Exposition President Eugene Cassidy is a fan of the oyster bar and said he welcomes them back next year.
“We are delighted to have the iconic Matunuck Oyster Bar here on our fairgrounds with the freshest seafood in New England. It doesn’t get any fresher than straight from the sea and their farm to table and pond to plate operation speaks to the Exposition’s agricultural mission,” he said. ” It’s like bringing the sea to The Big E.”
The prices are a little higher than at some of the other booths, but the food is well worth it. I definitely recommend stopping by Matunuck before the fair ends this weekend.