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Farm fresh oysters at the Naked Oyster restaurant in Hyannis

Naked Oyster restaurant Hyannis

Photo by Jennifer Dow

Pristine waters, a good back and a big heart produce award-winning oysters for Hyannis’ Naked Oyster restaurant

Chef Florence Lowell rolls up her sleeves to prepare memorable meals for diners at her Hyannis restaurant, Naked Oyster. But her process starts long before she puts on her chef’s coat and picks up a knife. Lowell is a farmer—a farmer of the unique mollusk for which her restaurant is named. Oysters, perhaps because they are simple and sophisticated at the same time, enjoy a global fascination rooted in the same vernacular reserved for fine wine. While wine often attributes its subtle distinctions to the ‘terroir,’ the soil in which the vines thrive and derive the characteristics found in wine varietals, oysters are also influenced by their environment, the ‘merroir,’ or the flowing waters and sands of the various harbors that give names to their varieties.

Growing up on the other side of our Atlantic waters, on the coast of France, Lowell sees similarities between her childhood home and the seaside inlets and coves of the Cape. In 2010, after stints in Texas restaurants, she moved to the Cape and started farming oysters in Barnstable Harbor. Her beds are located not far from Sandy Neck and being the hands-on chef/farmer she is, she can more often than not be found in waist-high waders, tending and harvesting her beds of sublime delicacies.

A warm, winsome June morning found Lowell motoring out to the flats, as the pristine shallows softly receded to expose the sandbar designated for oyster aquaculture. As the seagulls soared, floated and investigated any opportunity for a morning snack on the back side of Sandy Neck’s barrier dunes, Lowell set about her work of checking her agronomy.

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