The summer season is finally upon us, and you know what that means; time to plan travel and getaways while the weather is nice. As a Brooklyn girl, I have been spoiled over the years with all the free summer programming NYC has to offer throughout the season, but sometimes, you just need to get away. A getaway does not necessarily have to be a flight or week away, but even a day or two in different scenery right here on the East Coast.
Just last week I was invited by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation for an exclusive day trip for press to explore the attractions in the South County district. Focused on food, shopping, and luxury accommodations, the itinerary was filled with great attractions that were just on time for me as I was in need of a getaway. I was really excited that it was a small group of four bloggers in total, along with our guides Alexa and Jennifer from Havas PR.
I took the Amtrak train into Westerly, RI from Penn Station and was greeted by the crew in a black sprinter van. It was there that I met Alexa and Jennifer, as well as fellow bloggers Asha of Fork Spoon Knife, Martha of A Family Feast, and Richard of The Passionate Foodie. We chatted a bit and were right off to our first destination of the day, Matunuck Oyster Bar.
Located in South Kingstown, Matunuck is special as it is not solely an oyster bar & restaurant, but an oyster farm as well. Upon our arrival, we met with Perry Raso, an oyster farmer for decades and owner of the establishment. He took us on a tour of the restaurant and gave us the history of the land and the oyster farming industry as a whole.
On the boat with Perry
After our mini-tour of the restaurant’s interior, we headed back outside to Perry’s boat that he takes out on the water to farm and catch oysters. The weather was pristine, sunny and in the low 80s, making the temperature on the water somewhere in the mid to high 70s. We set out and got a firsthand glance of all the different types of oysters that the farm raises, as well as a select few scallops.
The water itself was quite shallow, with Perry jumping in every few minutes to show us the different types of oysters, along with the method in which they are raised. We were able to hold oysters in our hand, which I thought was really cool, before we put them back in the water.
On our tour of the oyster farm, Perry informed us that the grounds had a vegetable farm as well, making Matunuck not only pond to plate, but farm to table as well.
We took approximately a ten-minute ride up the pond to the vegetable farm, enduring a few splashes en route to our destination. Once off the boat, we took a short walk up the hill to be greeted with a sprawling green pasture of fresh, organic vegetables. The farm was so serene, and I snapped away to capture the moment.
Rows of greens
There were rows and rows of greens, including spinach, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, and edible flowers. Walking around in awe as one day I hope to have my own farm, Perry gave us a sample of a variety of purple asparagus straight from the Earth. I took a bite and was immediately wowed. It was so fresh with a bit of sweetness towards the root, unlike the normally bitter green asparagus.
I could have personally ended the tour after the farm, but you know what was up next, LUNCH!
Like it raw?
We took the boat back to the pier and were seated shortly after our arrival on the outdoor deck for dining al fresco. The restaurant is very popular and had filled up while we were on our tours, on a weekday afternoon at that. Our waitress poured us all glasses of water, and Perry informed us that he would send out a few appetizers for us to try.
We started off with the oyster sampler, which included twelve raw local oysters. The freshness was exquisite and the brininess of the salt water was just perfect.
Next up was a trio, including from the left, the Clams Casino (eight littlenecks with a buttery bacon & bread crumb topping), Oysters Rockefeller (six oysters baked with Pernod, spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs & fresh herbs), and Bourbon Oysters (six broiled Matunuck oysters with a Bourbon chipotle sauce). The flavors of all three were quite enjoyable, but the Bourbon oysters were by far my favorite as they were a bit lighter than the others, and had a unique, smoky and sweet aftertaste.
Rosé all day
A meal is not complete without a good wine. As we were eating mainly seafood, I felt a rosé would pair well with all the offerings. The rosé was a dryer variety, not too sweet, similar to the varieties of Provence, and paired very nicely with my appetizers.
Now it was time to place our individual orders. I didn’t want to get too crazy, so I figured an appetizer, salad, and a main would suffice, and would save me from a food coma. Up first was the Scallop Ceviche. Being Belizean-American, I am a ceviche snob as my family makes shrimp or conch ceviche when it is in season. When I tell you this scallop ceviche was OUT OF BOUNDS, I mean it.
A generous portion of scallop was served atop a clam shell, paired with mango salsa that included cilantro, lime, and peppers, and crispy wonton chips. The scallop melted in your mouth as you ate it, and the chips provided a perfect textural mashup.
Arugula Strawberry Salad
Up next for me was the Arugula Strawberry Salad, comprised of some of my favorite things: Matunuck Farm’s arugula, fresh sliced strawberries, sherry black pepper vinaigrette, balsamic reduction and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The flavors were splendid and refreshing. As it was a bit breezy out, some of my Parmigiano flew off my plate. I laughed, and continued eating.
I went back and forth deciding on a main because the normal menu and specials menu had so many incredible offerings. As I was in New England for the day, I decided to keep it local and go for the Lobster Roll. The meal consisted of chilled lobster meat, lightly dressed with mayonnaise and chopped celery on a grilled buttery split top roll. My eyes widened when I was served as the amount of lobster in the roll was astounding. I took a bite and it was like a lobster explosion; chunks falling onto my side salad and hand-cut fries.
For my first lobster roll in New England, this was off the chain! The lobster was so fresh, and the accompanying flavors were incredibly light, making the lobster the star of the show.
My experience at Matunuck Oyster Bar was just lovely, from Perry and staff, down to every offering on a plate. This will be hard to top! When in Rhode Island, definitely stop by. You won’t regret it!
629 Succotash Road
*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life in the Day of Andrea
I received a complimentary trip and meals for my review