South Carolina oyster season kicked off in late September, and in honor of the salty-sweet Crassostrea virginica (or Eastern Oyster) we’re outlining all the ways the crustacean inspires and enlivens beach living on Kiawah Island. From shucking and roasting to interior-design inspiration, this month is all about the mighty South Carolina mollusk—rich in flavor and Lowcountry tradition.
With the start of wild harvest season, 5,000 acres of leased and public beds opened to recreational and commercial cullers, such as Charleston Oyster Farm and Barrier Island Oyster Co., looking to provide the locals’ favorite to nearby establishments. Around 100,000 oyster bushels are harvested from the South Carolina coastline each year.
At the Beach Club at Timbers Kiawah, some portion of that large number will create the opportunity for good, old-fashioned oyster roasts. Chef Teddy has a couple roasts up his sleeve, including one on New Year’s Eve. Stay tuned.
But the oysters are more than a culinary treat. They’ve also inspired our decor. Look no further than the Timbers Kiawah Clubhouse for a contemporary example of the mollusk in decorative and functional action. The oyster-tabby fireplace, accented with local driftwood, has become as much a conversation piece as a vestige of South Carolina’s rich coastal history.
Early settlers of South Carolina relied on oyster tabby for its imperviousness to the elements, and took advantage of the surplus of raw materials on the shoreline to craft it. By baking the shucked shells, they extracted lime, then mixed it with sand, oyster shells and water to create the concrete mixture we call tabby.
“I just feel like the oyster-shell tabby has such Lowcountry flair,” said Joni Vanderslice, president and founder of J. Banks Design Group, who oversaw outfitting of our residences. “I had been in Martha’s Vineyard and had seen a fireplace that was stone and driftwood together, and it was so unique that I thought why wouldn’t we do this with tabby and driftwood and make this truly an art piece.”
Further afield, you can find more expansive examples of our state’s historic oyster tabby structures, as well:
Tabby Ruins, Daufuskie Island
Chapel of Ease, St. Helena
Drayton Plantation, Hilton Head
Tabby Manse, Beaufort
Back home, Adrian Chu Redmond’s oil representations of oysters bedeck the walls of the Penthouse dinette. Interior designers from J. Banks Design were so taken with the work by Redmond, they asked her to replicate the oysters for use in our residences to infuse the spaces with a sense of place.
South Carolina oyster season runs through April, so expect to see the crustacean appear as a special menu item at the Beach Club for months to come. Please call the front desk or concierge to assist with arranging any tours or activities around the Lowcountry staple.
At Timbers Kiawah, the world is your oyster.