North Carolina Oysters

During the late 1880’s, North Carolina oysters were being harvested as an alarming rate and shipped out all over the country. At it’s peak in 1902, 800,000 bushels of oysters were harvested, exhausting the supply and threatening the future of the species [information from NC Oysters]. Thank goodness that efforts have been made to rectify this and increase the population.

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Like I’ve said before, I have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by fresh seafood. Oysters aren’t a delicacy to me but are simply another reason to gather around at my grandparent’s house. We’ve had oyster roasts for as far back as I can remember, though when I was younger, the oysters were heated on top of a wood stove until they popped open. Now we steam them over a cooker but they taste just the same – delicious. Typically we wait until January to cook oysters the first oysters of the season(sometimes we will have them on Christmas Eve) though the recreational harvest season runs from October 15 through March 31.

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I tend to like my oysters a bit firmer than most (otherwise it tends to look like snot). I also  chew my oysters (unlike most of my family). Once I’ve waited as long as I can wait, I snatch the oyster from the cooker, careful to avoid the steam. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned to open an oyster with moderate success. You lay the blade of your oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist until it pops apart.

If there is any juice, I sip it. The salter the better and where/when your oyster was harvested sometimes dictates the saltiness. I slather the meat in homemade cocktail sauce (a mixture of horseradish and ketchup, though I’m a bit heavy handed on the former) and eat it.

When we get fresh oysters, we always eat them steamed. If we are wanting to fry oysters, we usually will pick up a jar of already shelled oysters from Quality Seafood.

This wouldn’t be a post on oysters if I didn’t highlight the oyster knife of my dreams. Made by Carolina Suckers from an old railroad spike, this oyster knife is practically a work of art to me.

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The Mother Shucker

Maybe one day I’ll get my hand of one of these beauties. For now, I’ll just keep using the crusty – well, let’s call them vintage – oysters knives rummaged from drawers at my grandparent’s house.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them (steamed, fried, make into an oyster stuffing)?

Barley’s Pizza [Elizabeth City]

Barley’s Pizza opened up last fall in Elizabeth City but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I was able to get out there (even though it’s located just a few miles from where I work). The restaurant is a good example of re-purposing the space you have. Located in an old Burger King building, Barley’s Pizza still sort of sets off that BK vibe. Little has been done to really impact the interior, which makes sense to me. When you decide to start any business, everyday you are unable to sell to customers is money down the drain. Besides, this is a pizza joint. As long as the food is good, we don’t need white table linens and fancy decor.

So how IS the food? Not too shabby really. After returning from Alaska in October, I compare all of my pizzas to the delicious one we ate at Moose’s Tooth and the pizza I had at Barley’s Pizza was almost there. I tend to like a more unique pizza so we ordered the Capri [Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic Oil , Mushrooms, Tomato, Spinach & Broccoli]. It may sound a little weird but all the flavors melded together nicely. There was a nice saltiness that I enjoyed and though we ate until we were stuffed, we still had plenty of leftovers.

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That’s another thing I noticed about Barley’s Pizza. The portion sizes are huge! A few weeks later, I ventured back and ordered a Reuben. I love Reuben’s but I’m not such a fan of corned beef sometimes, so I typically special order my Reuben with turkey. If you’ve never tried a Reuben with turkey then you are in for a treat. I ate half of my sandwich, a few waffle fries, and was beyond stuffed.

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Robb and I definitely plan to return and hope to someday have the occasion to order the party size pizza. That thing is HUGE!

If you read some of the reviews on the internet, you’ll find that most people say that the food is good but service is slow. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that, I think that in a new place, it can sometimes take a little while for the staff to get their footing. All in all though, definitely check out Barley’s Pizza for a great deal on good food.

Barley Pizza Family Restaurant
1333 N Road Street
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Monday-Thursday 10am -11pm
Friday-Saturday 10am-12am
Sundays 10am-11pm