Give a Shuck

There are two reasons to go to the New Amsterdam Market fundraiser tomorrow night: You want to support efforts to establish a sustainable and permanent market in the city. The other is that you really like fresh oysters and craft-brewed beer.

The event, dubbed "Founded on Oyster Shells," will feature samplings from local oyster purveyors including Blue Points and Peconics from Long Island ($50 for a sampling, $100 gets you unlimited pick, but tickets must be purchased in advance are now sold out), with accompanying beers selected and paired by the Beer Table's Justin Long. In addition to the oysters, there'll also be chowders, stews and winter root vegetables galore, and butter from the Cooperstown Cheese Company just to give you a taste of what the Market might have in store. A live jazz trio will provide background music, Robert LaValva, director of the New Amsterdam Market will fill you in its plans and Mike Osinski of the Widow's Hole Oyster Company in Greenport, Long Island, will be on had to talk about the shellfish.

The benefit's historic moniker is a nod to early Dutch markets. "The name was inspired by the fact that the first markets in New Amsterdam were, quite literally, paved with oyster shells," says LaValva.  "This is because when the Dutch began settling the city, they found huge mounds of shells along the East River shoreline, the remnants of 3,000 years of Native American oyster feasts. The shells were spread out to form Pearl Street, which at that time marked the city's edge. This is where farm boats alighted from then rural Brooklyn, and where the city residents came to buy their food."

In addition the the event, there is an online auction, which runs though Tuesday. Among the items up for auction are a private pig roast for you and twenty of your closest friends, a Sunday lunch and farm tour at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a private barrel tasting at Red Hook Winery, and a meal with Alice Waters (she picks the place though).

Of course all proceeds will go to support the efforts to develop the New Amsterdam which seeks to create a permanent home for artisans and the region's agricultural goods. So whichever you look at, as a bargain for tasting and education, or a filling way to support a good cause, you're sure to leave better off than you arrived.

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