What's in Season

What’s in Season: Southern Oysters

For a clean taste of the ocean, look for these Southern selects

Illustration: John Burgoyne

Around Charleston, South Carolina, Dave Belanger is rarely called by his given name. He’s known as Clammer Dave or simply Clammer, thanks to the Caper’s Clams he’s been raising for a decade. But in recent years, the farmer turned businessman turned bivalve aficionado has amassed a huge and hungry following for his Caper’s Blades oysters. Described as cleaner, saltier, and more flavorful than other Southern oysters, Belanger’s Blades are broken from clusters into single selects using a two-hundred-year-old rock-and-chisel technique. Oysters that are sufficiently mature are then placed in special racks in the waters around the Capers Island Wildlife Refuge where, Belanger says, the highly oxygenated water and the algae diet produce a perfectly briny taste. Though Belanger will ship directly to customers, demand means you’ll most likely be put on a waiting list. Luckily, restaurants from Nashville to New York City also stock the Blades (check clammerdave.com for a list). “I just try to respect the oyster,” he says, “and hope people like them.”