Monday, April 30, 2012

Shucked author Erin Byers Murray talks about her year of living cold, sore and wet in her memoir Shucked...

In early 2009, Erin Byers Murray turned her back on her sophisticated, technology oriented journalism career & lifestyle to work with the mostly male crew at Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  Needless to say, Ms. Murray was completely unfamiliar with the Oyster business and fully unprepared for the physical grind of day to day Oyster farming.  The result of this experience is her account of her year Oystering; Shucked :Life on  New England Oyster Farm (St. Martin's Press).   Ms. Murray was nice enough to talk to Mark and Lynn about Shucked, Oysters and what what she  likes to drink when enjoying Oysters...

Ms. Murray was nice enough to correspond with Mark and Lynn about her book,
M & L: While writing Shucked what kind of reader did you think would be interested in reading this book?

EBM: "I expected the reader to be a food lover who was also excited about personal narratives. I imagined the book would speak to females, mostly, but also to anyone who has ever wanted to change tracks and try something new.

M & LWhen you speak to or hear from readers what kinds of things are you surprised to hear about their experience reading Shucked?

EBM:  "What I'm most surprised by is how many people have a personal connection to Duxbury. Every reading and appearance draws someone who has a tie to the area, whether it be the beach, the bay, or with someone else from the town. It's incredible how many people have been touched by that place and the beauty there. "

Shucked Author Erin Byers Murray

M & L: In your mind what sets the process of working with Oysters apart from say working with grapes or traditional farming?

EBM: "Working on the water adds many layers to the farming process. As with most farming, the weather has such a huge impact on our day to day work - wind, rain, ice... it dictates everything from planting and harvesting to processing. But the waterway itself adds a barrier between you and the product so navigating that extra step requires an inherent understanding of something that can be unpredictable and ever changing."
M & L: Is there any wine or cocktail that you feel goes particularly well with Oysters?

EBM: "A classic pilsner always works well; a dry martini is even better. 

M & L: Was there anything that you left out of Shucked?  Was there anything you put in the book that you wish you hadn't?

M & L: "Writing a personal narrative requires an enormous amount of self control. I have thousands of pages of notes and journal entries that weren't used because a) i only had so much space and b) they wouldn't have added much to the overall story. Editing that much content was the biggest challenge. As for the second question, no."

M & L: Do you feel like you have gotten this kind of experience out of your system?  Is there something else along these lines you would like to do?

EBM: "I will always be drawn to stories that I can immerse myself in. When it comes to food, I want to know everything -- farming, food production, cooking. How deep into it I get or how far I go will all depend on where that fits in with the rest of my life at that moment. My family is my highest priority right now--if I come across a story or experience that will work for me as well as my family, I would love to make it happen again."  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bedford Cheese in Williamsburg brings a curator's touch to cheese...

Lynn and I ducked into the Bedford Cheese shop in the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn last week which was lucky for us since it was the best cheese purveyor that we had seen since we had been to Montreal.  It was a crowded Sunday so we did not have the benefit of being able to casually check out the (seemingly) thousands of thoughtfully curated cheeses.  We did zero in on a supremely exotic cheese in the blue cheese spectrum called Gorgonzola Cremisicato which was displayed on one of the store counters and seemed to be melting like ice cream.  Apparently, this cheese is enriched with heavy cream which helps explain the soft texture and sweet flavoring.  We got it and noted that it would be a great alternative dessert to serve at a party and would be great with a flavorful wine or port.

The store's associate who helped us was a sweet natured young woman with avant garde glasses and a few discreet tattoos.  This place in on our list for another visit where we hopefully will be able to have a more casual experience...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mark and Lynn love Trix in Brooklyn...


After a long Easter Lynn and I treated ourselves to some R & R in Brooklyn , purusing the Brooklyn Flea and areas around the general Williamsburg area.  We had a tough time finding a place to eat around 2 pm when many of the restaraunts we saw either served a hefty brunch (which we weren’t in the mood for) or were closed. 

Luckily, we managed to stumble upon Trix, a charming bistro with outdoor seating on this unseasonably hot April day. The menu had more variety than some of the other places we considered with some particularly great seafood selections like Razor clams (which I had). 

I had two Manhattans that were so light they almost tasted “summery.” 

The place seemingly had one server; a sweet natured raven haired young woman with an armful of tattoos.  She was great, very accomadating and helpful with her suggestions and great at anticipating our needs which were few since everything was so perfect...

M& L

145 Bedford Ave
(between 10th St & 9th St)
BrooklynNY 11211
Neighborhood: Williamsburg - North Side
(347) 599-0702

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lynn pays tribute to the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck in Brooklyn...

Lynn indulged herself (despite her considerable discipline) and had a brilliant cone of Artisan Ice Cream at the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck in Brooklyn.   It was in the flavor of Earl Grey and, according to Lynn, the flavor was so perfect and intense it made her forget she was eating anything as regular as Ice Cream...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mark and Lynn love 21st Amendment Brewery's IPA

Neither I nor Lynn are into beer all that much; however, we have become fond of the beers of San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery.  Over Easter we tried the Brew Free or Die IPA and were pleasantly surprised with a beer that was light on its feet but packed a flavorful punch (probably due to the blend of several hops).  Needless to say we love the great graphics which attracted us to the brews in the first place...

M & L

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mark and Lynn believe Charles Smith Wines are touched by witchcraft...

We rarely pay more than 10.00 for a bottle of wine in most liquor stores on Long Island and when we go to Trader Joe's in Boston we load up on "Two Buck Chuck" (really "Three Buck Chuck" these days).  And, truth be told there are many very good wines in the 10.00 range (Smoking Loon, Rex Goliath, Toasted Head and so on) and we are serious wine drinkers so it behooves us to find good wines with favorable price points.  However, when we want to treat ourselves we go to Down the Rabbit Hole where we are more than willing to push our limits price wise since the wines there are so thoughtfully curated.  Most recently, Lynn and I have been buzzed on Washington State's  Charles Smith wines like the Velvet Devil (which has strong hints of cocoa and goes down like chocolate milk) and Boom Boom Syrah (which is a crowd pleaser with a hint of red velvet cake).  Most of all these wines seem to be touched by witchcraft which is more than enough for us (and the price point is just at 20.00); or, as the iconoclastic Mr. Smith says "It's just booze-drink it."


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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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