Southern Agenda

The More, the Merroir

“You can eat oysters 365 days a year,” says Anthony Ricciardone, who, as a co-owner of Admiral Shellfish Company on Mobile Bay, has a vested interest in dispelling the only-in-months-with-an-r myth. “April and May are honestly the sweet spot to visit down here to me.” Ricciardone farms oysters around historical Fort Morgan, and he worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, various state agencies, and even archaeologists to secure a site that gets a daily push of clean, salty water. “If we’re gonna do this right,” he says, “and we’re gonna be in award-winning restaurants and let the product speak for itself, we’ve gotta pick the best water.” (Bon Secour Fisheries and Ahi Seafood Market in Fairhope keep Admiral’s oysters in stock for local buyers.) To coincide with the statewide Year of Alabama Food initiative, Ricciardone hosts group beachside walking tours of the oyster farm on Mondays and Thursdays, to orient people to the bounty of the Gulf Shores peninsula. “We aren’t allowed to actually shuck oysters and feed people, but we can point them at some local places to get them,” Ricciardone says. “And everybody goes home with a coozie.”