Food trucks are awesome…it’s been scientifically proven. Food+Fast+Fun=Major Noms. See? And, when it comes to food trucks, we’ve seen so many: meatballs, crepes, lobster rolls, grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast food, burritos, waffles, and oysters. Oysters?
Yes, oysters. But, we’re not talking about your regular kind of food experience here. We’re talking about an oyster bar aboard Laurel, America’s oldest oyster boat. She was built in 1891 and was about to be destroyed when her savior, Jean Paul Vellotti, came along. He was on assignment, taking photos for Whole Foods when he climbed on board Laurel to capture that perfect shot. Instantly, he felt a connection with her and felt how sad it would be if this boat was destroyed. Not too long after this, Jean Paul (born in East Norwalk, now in Westport) made an offer on the boat and saved over 100 years of history from being written off the earth.
Since purchasing Laurel, Jean Paul continues extensive work at a New Haven dock to ensure that his ship can make the same legendary trips that she used to make. Years ago, The Laurel harvested countless oysters and took them to ports along Long Island Sound, the Great Peconic Bay, the Great South Bay, New York Harbor, and even Delaware Bay. While there are no plans right now to take Laurel on oyster bar trips to Maryland, there are definitely plans to hit up lots of spots locally. Here’s their current schedule:
June 28-30: The Wooden Boat Show, Mystic, CT
July 12-14: Sailfest, New London, CT
August: Sage Oyster Bar, New Haven
Sept. 6-8: Norwalk Oyster Festival
Sept. 21-23: Greenport, Long Island, NY Maritime Festival
Don’t worry, though. There are plans to hit up more spots, so keep up with them on Facebook. They’ll take suggestions, too. Now, in terms of what kind of oysters they’ll be serving, it’s all local, all freshly caught, all awesome. Here are the oyster varieties that you can expect to slurp away on:
- Connecticut Bluepoints (Norm Bloom and Sons)
- Oysters from Brendan Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company
- Oysters from Noak Oyster Cooperative
- Oysters from Howard Pickerell of Sag Harbor
- East Point Delaware Bay oysters
- West Coast oysters
Before they can go harvesting and open up Laurel for business, Jean Paul and crew still have lots of work to do. The biggest priority is replacing the worn away and damaged deck that is over 100 years old. This is no easy task and the cost is more than Jean Paul can afford at this point after already making so many fixes to Laurel to make her seaworthy. So, he had a great idea…create crafts, fun experiences, and special gifts from the old wood of the boat and give it to people in exchange for monetary contributions. His campaign on Kickstarter has already raised $1,840 and goes until 9 pm on April 21. Some of the rewards for helping are:
- Tour of Laurel with a tasting of some oysters and clams ($5)
- A reclaimed vintage mahogany wooden bookmark ($12)
- Half a dozen oysters or clams plus a cold drink on Laurel when she swings into port ($15)
- Limited edition and numbered vintage mahogany 5×7 photo frame ($35)
- Your own oyster shucking knife made from reclaimed Laurel mahogany deck planks ($90)
And, the rewards keep getting more awesome as you contribute more to Laurel. You could get a chance to go out on the sea, learn how to harvest oysters, then come home with a bag of 200 bivalves! Or, you could even have your name or company engraved into one of the new deck beams for all the world to see.
So, definitely make sure to keep up to date with Laurel and make sure to hit them up when they anchor away at a dock near you. The oysters on board will probably be some of the freshest that you’ve ever tasted in your life…straight from the water, to the half shell, then to your mouth.
The Laurel Oyster Boat Oyster Bar