We’ll never know who plucked that first craggy oyster from the sea to eat, but we do know that he or she had this stroke of genius a very, very long time ago. The ancient Romans so prized the briny bivalves that they created the world’s first man-made oyster beds.
Like wine, oysters take on the terroir of where they were grown: the higher the salinity of the water, the more briny the oyster; creamy sweetness, on the other hand, comes from fresh water. Oysters that hail from warmer climes tend to be soft and plush, with a mineral flavor.
In the Lowcountry, coastal Carolina’s briny oysters are celebrated at oyster roasts, casual fall affairs that take place around plywood tables groaning with piles of hot steamed oysters.
At Montage Palmetto Bluff, oyster roasts are held at Moreland Landing, an outdoor venue set on the banks of the May River. The landing is part of Moreland Village, a village within Palmetto Bluff that was designed using centuries-old building techniques and materials. One is tabby, a concrete-like material made from oyster shells and lime that was first used in South Carolina in the 17th century by English colonists as a way to utilize the shells of the region’s delicious oysters.
May River oysters are so flavorful that from the 1800’s until just after World War II, the tiny town of Bluffton, South Carolina was one of the country’s main oyster suppliers. Of the five shucking houses that once lined the streets, just one, the Bluffton Oyster Company, remains today.
Owned by the Toomer family for three generations, the Bluffton Oyster Company hand-shucks oysters from September until May. It’s the last operation of its kind in the U.S. and is open to the public all year long. In town is the restaurant, which, in addition to raw and steamed oysters, serves local fish, shrimp and crab alongside mac and cheese, coleslaw and other southern sides.
Returning for its “11th helping,” Music to Your Mouth, a weeklong marathon of mouthwatering events filled with some of the best Southern chefs, vintners, mixologists and musicians, is taking place Nov. 16-19, surrounded by the majestic landscape and soulful sounds of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
That week, Montage Palmetto Bluff’s Whole Hog + A Bed weekend package offers two nights accommodations and a host of culinary experiences to fill your weekend (and your belly), while still allowing time to explore all that the Bluff has to offer.
The package includes all events, such as the Nov. 18 Kiss the Pig Oyster Roast, a traditional oyster roast and Southern feast set along the banks of the May River from 7-10 p.m. at Moreland Landing. Chefs will roast May River oysters (the sweetest and saltiest oysters you’ve ever tasted) and cook up some Southern comfort food. Moreland Landing is a spectacular outdoor venue made for an oyster roast, complete with a custom-built oyster pit and tables, handcrafted furniture and a five-story tree house with stunning views of the surrounding marshlands. After you get your fill of oysters, it’s time for The Pig Event, the annual surprise private concert that starts at 10 p.m.
General ticket sales have sold out but you can still attend by purchasing the Whole Hog and a Bed for Your Head package here.