Farmer: Skip Bennett
Location: Saquish Neck, MA
Size: Selects: 2.5-3”
How they’re grown: The Tumblecans are a true “tumbled” East Coast oyster. They spend their infancy out at Saquish in trays in the nutrient-rich waters adjacent to the Aunt Dotty farm. Once they reach about an inch and a half, they’re transferred to the surface and into SEAPA gear: small cylindrical baskets designed to facilitate tumbling. Consistent tumbling encourages growth; shell edges will break off but the oyster will grow deeper and stronger (think pruning a plant, the more you trim, the more robust it will grow). It also helps develop a rounder, well-cupped oyster with a hard, clean shell.
How they taste: These oysters have an outrageous toothy texture and a clean, mellow sweetness. The constant tumbling creates some of the deepest, strongest, meatiest gems you can imagine. To us...they’re basically perfect.
Why they’re unique: Tumblecans are a rare breed! They’re only harvested for a few months in the late fall/early winter when the winds are blowing and the waves are really rocking at the farm.
Story: The Tumblecan is Island Creek’s fourth signature oyster. The idea for these oysters was conceived on the back deck of a Miami Beach hotel after the South Beach Food & Wine Fest. We’d just become fast friends with a fellow shellfish fanatic, Paul Kahan, the rockstar chef who sits atop Chicago’s most beloved restaurant empire. Skip had been rambling on about his latest obsession of producing his first truly tumbled East Coast oyster, and Paul and his team were hooked on making it happen.
A few months later, Paul and his crew joined us knee-deep on the mudflats of Saquish to plant the seed that two years later would become our first crop of tumbled oysters. The experimental first batch produced only 2,000 pieces (to put things in perspective a busy raw bar can easily shuck through 2,000 oysters in one night). Paul took them all and put them on the menu at his flagship restaurant, The Publican. They sold out that night, the name Tumblecan was born, and the rest is history.