A plate of creamy Sydney rock oysters (SROs) paired with an icy bottle of white wine or a glass of champagne is an unbeatable dining-out experience. Sadly, we can’t share that joy with our mates at a pretty seaside restaurant right now, but we can do the next best thing: get fresh NSW oysters delivered directly to our homes by East 33, one of Australia’s largest producers and suppliers of premium SROs.
For many oyster fans, SROs (which, despite the name, are found across Australia and in New Zealand) are the pinnacle – regarded by some as the best in the world. They’re smaller than Pacific oysters, and are characterised by a rich sweetness and a mineral intensity with an astringent, copper-like finish.
East 33, a collective of Australian oyster farmers, was founded in 2019 to service the restaurant industry more efficiently, and to share knowledge and technology. (It gets its name from the latitude at which the bivalves are commonly grown.) Prior to Covid-19, it supplied SROs from a network of farms along the NSW coast (from areas such as Wallis Lake, Port Stephens and the Manning River) to more than 500 Australian restaurants, and it exported oysters overseas too.
For the first time – and for a limited time – East 33 is offering its oysters direct to the public for next-day delivery (except Sunday) to selected Melbourne suburbs, shucked or unshucked. Prices start at $59 (delivery is $10) for the two-dozen packs, which showcase a range of harvesting regions and local flavour profiles.
For example, the 154 series covers a stretch of farms in northern NSW from Nambucca to Camden; the 152 highlights the central NSW region; and the 149 represents the most southerly farms, located at Lake Wapengo, Pambula and Merimbula.
“Sydney rock oysters take on the properties of their environment,” says Kali Austin, a spokesperson for the collective. “As such, their taste can vary greatly from region to region.”
Some are saltier with more pronounced minerality, others are sweeter, or richer in umami. If you want to try the lot get the Tasting Kit, which has eight oysters from each of East 33’s three regions, with tasting notes to guide you through this waiter-less period. Or there's one that comes with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
And if you don’t have the right instrument to ply open your oysters, you can also pick up a shucking knife for $8.
Want to know more about oysters? Read our Explainer here.