By Gianna Volpe
Greenport Village’s annual “Shellabration” is finding focus in its fourth year.
The North Fork’s ever-evolving weekend walk-about — a high quality locavore-laced food and beverage event that began as a shared fundraiser benefitting efforts to both re-populate local waters with shellfish and resurrect Greenport’s rolling rink — will now exclusively support the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s 30-year-old Marine Program.
“We’re kind of adopting [the Shellabration] and making it our own for a long-term commitment,” said outreach manager Kimberly Barbour of how this year Cornell Cooperative Extension took the reigns of Greenport’s growing promotional event to become the Shellabration’s administrative manager and sole beneficiary.
Eighteen restaurants have all been paired with a unique local winery or brewery for this weekend — Save Noah’s and Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill, who are both be pairing with Kontokosta Winery, as well as Industry Standard and The Rhumbline, who are both paired with the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company — to provide those wearing $20 Shellabration wristbands with a small plate and paired beverage for $8 on December 5 and 6 between noon and 4 p.m.
According to the event’s website, wristband wearers are also entitled to “a free glass of Greenport Harbor Ale and a SPAT-sponsored raw bar tasting of clams and oysters” at the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company on Carpenter Street or at Little Creek Oyster Company down Bootleg Alley where shellabrators can find a map pinpointing all participating restaurant locations.
“I’ve been working so hard to get a format that finally works because this event can be great if it’s organized and done right,” said CCE’s Ms. Barbour. “I’ve got big goals for [Shellabration] — Maybe even to duplicate it in Sag Harbor and points West — So if we own it [this year], hopefully it will be a Cornell event from the fifth annual to all the years that come after it.”
The Marine Program’s coup brings the Shellabration’s story full circle when one considers Cornell’s SPAT Program — the Southold Project in Aquaculture Training — has been the special event’s only consistent fund recipient since its 2012 inauguration. This year both SPAT and CCE’s “Back to the Bays” initiative will financially benefit from Greenport’s Shellabration.
SPAT bolsters the region’s shellfish numbers not only by hatching, raising and locally releasing, say, bay scallops or oysters, but also through educating others how to do the same, making the program a natural partner to “Back to the Bays” as both are aimed at increasing the community’s involvement in the actual environmental stewarship of the East End’s waters annually provided by the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“I think it’s important Cornell took the reigns this year because I have seen how much work they do for the North Fork,” said Macari Vineyard’s Gibson Campbell, who has not only worked extensively in the local restaurant and wine industry, but who both volunteered and worked for CCE’s Marine Program in 2008 and 2009. “It’s great to see the restaurants supporting them, who in turn support the wineries; it’s a beautiful cycle where everyone helps each other out and that’s what makes the Shellabration so great. Everyone’s in this together, which makes for a fun and casual, but important event.”
Mr. Campbell said his tri-fold experience has made seeing “the three facets of the North Fork come together” an especially rewarding experience for him.
“I used to work on the scallop barge, so we were part of the team that replenished the bays with bay scallops…and it’s just so cool to see that some of the people walking around town and meandering to all the restaurants are the scientists and the people who worked on the boat with me.”
Mr. Campbell, who has represented Macari Vineyards for each Shellabration thus far, said this year the 2014 New York Food and Wine Classic “Winery of the Year” is pairing up with the cozy village haunt, First and South. The restaurant — whose name matches their location within the Village — will kick off this year’s Shellabration with their annual Prohibition-themed event at 5 p.m. this Friday, December 4.
“I’m thinking this year we’re going to use our Sauvignon Blanc — our 2014 Katherine’s Field,” Mr. Campbell. “It’s a natural fit for any shellfish, but I’m also thinking of bringing one of our sparkling wines to pair with one of the dishes. Sarah [Phillips of First and South] and I have been bouncing ideas off each other and [Chef Scott Leventhal]. We don’t have a menu made up yet, but talking with the chef and deciding together what we’re going to do is another thing that’s always fun about this event.”
Macari Vineyards partnered with the hot hipster hide-out, Brix & Rye, for last year’s Shellabration, but they’re not the only ones with a reputation for partnering with burgeoning businesses.
This year, Riverhead’s Moustache Brewery joins forces with the explosively successful double-wide version of the village’s taco and tequila bar known as Lucharitos. It may sound strange that a business known for margaritas would pair with a local brewer, but those aware of the truly scarce nature of Moustache’s brews and Lucharitos’ sales strength straight through this past season, may have a clue as to why their partnering for this Shellabration is an honor on either side.
“I knew Matt and Lauri [Spitz of Moustache Brewery] personally, but when they came in, they offered us their beer, so we’ve been selling it since May,” Lucharitos bartender, Sterling Smiley said, when asked how Lucharitos was able to pair with the small-batch brewery for this year’s Shellabration.
“We’re doing our chipotle mayo-topped scallop tacos with Moustache’s Franco American Pale Ale, which will pair perfectly because the hoppiness from the pale ale will complement the saltiness of the Peconic Bay Scallops.”
For more information about this weekend’s Shellabration event, visit shellabration.li or ccesuffolk.org.