Fall has arrived here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia – which means, oyster harvests are in full swing in the waters surrounding our little peninsula. From the salts on the seaside, to the sweeter guys harvested out of the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers on the western shore – we have such an amazing variety of oysters in Virginia.

A couple of weeks ago the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival – an event that’s anticipated all year long. Fried oysters, steamed oysters, raw oysters…a true celebration of the briny bivalve.

I was running around taking photos to earn my keep, in exchange for my ticket. But, I managed to tote over my little portable grill and snag a few oysters to throw on it, to get some photos to share of this super easy way to prepare them with you guys.

Oysters on the half, brushed with a simple garlic-herb butter while on the grill. Couldn’t get easier, delicious, or more impressive. If shucking isn’t your thing, you can steam them until they pop open, and then pry off the top shell – the garlic butter will still keep them plump and juicy.

If you’re really lucky, like I was on this particular day, you may find a tiny friend lurking inside your oyster. Pea crabs are considered a delicacy by many around here, tender yet slightly crunchy little crustacean parasites that like to set up shop inside our oysters. We eat them, but if it’s not your thing – by all means, serve them their final eviction notice before enjoying.

A few minutes on the grill is all you need, just until you see the butter start to sizzle. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish.  Enjoy them hot, and be prepared to reload the grill. You can’t eat just one!

Summer is winding down to a close here in our little beach town. We’ve been out and about in the boat and on the beach quite a bit this summer. So, there hasn’t been a ton of time for blogging. But, with the changing of the seasons I find myself wanting to be in the kitchen more. My pantry is seriously depleted, I’ll no doubt be taking a trip to the big city to restock soon. Winter is coming!

Perry’s Ice Cream reached out to me earlier this summer, about teaming up to spread the word that their ice cream is now available in Virginia Wegman’s locations – which, is always one of my favorite locations to stock the pantry…

I’ve had this frozen Mocha Mud Pie in my head for a long time, an homage to the dessert found at TGI Friday’s in the 90’s. When I tried their Cold Brew Coffee & Cream variety, I knew it would be the perfect fit for this cool & creamy dessert!

So many of the recipes I’d come across used instant pudding mixes and Cool Whip, and you guys know homey don’t play that. So, I kinda did my own thing. I went with an Oreo crust, then the coffee ice cream, and sealed the deal with a layer of mocha mousse. A quick refreeze, slice, and top with hot fudge and sliced almonds – for a little crunch.

Little squares of Heaven, I tell ya…the perfect sweet treat to send off summer!

Mocha Mud Pie

For the mocha mousse:
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the pie:
18 Oreo cookies, pulsed in food processor until crumbs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1.5 quarts coffee ice cream (softened)
hot fudge sauce, for topping
sliced almonds, for topping

Line a 11×7 glass pan with aluminum foil, and a layer of non-stick spray. Combine cookie crumbs and butter in food processor until combined. Press evenly into the bottom of the baking dish to form the crust. Set aside.

To make the mousse, beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar.

Heat 1 cup whipping cream in small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually pour half of the hot cream into egg yolk mixture, whisking well; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil).

Combine espresso powder with 1 tablespoon hot tap water and add to mixture, as well as the chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until chilled but still soft. Towards the end of the cooling, take out our ice cream to let it get soft and easily spreadable.

Finish up the mousse by 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in bowl of electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Add 1/3 of whipped cream to the chilled chocolate mixture, whisking to combine and lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined.

Assemble the pie by spreading a thick ice cream layer evenly over the crust, then topping with the mousse mixture and spreading evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours before serving.

To serve, slice into squares (using a hot knife helps), and top with a generous portion of hot fudge and sliced almonds.

Makes around 16 squares.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Perry’s Ice Cream. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Living on the Eastern Shore, and Chincoteague in particular, we spend alot of time out on the boat in the summertime. It’s not flashy or fancy, a 23-foot Carolina Skiff – but the vessel we’ve dubbed the “Flat Bottomed Girl” always gets us where we need to go safely. We usually keep to the waters around the island – either hanging at Little Beach (the locals spot on Assateague Island, only accessible by boat), fishing a few miles offshore (bagging some keeper flounder), or finding a new secluded beach for some beachcombing (#teamchesapeake for life). Needless to say, it’s been a great summer for our family!

This past weekend we hooked up the boat, and trailered her over to the Chesapeake Bay side of the shore to drop in for a day of exploration on the bayside. Our destination? Tangier Island. A tiny dot on the map, smack dab in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve lived here 20 years now, and growing up reading books like “Beautiful Swimmers” by William Warner, and it’s always been at the top of my list. So, my heart was so full to finally make the voyage across the Pocomoke Sound!

We docked in town at the ferry dock to try to figure out where we could tie up to disembark on the island. Next time we’ll go to Parks Marina and dock there  – $5 buys you a slip all day. But the gentleman who were with the Steven Thomas, (the ferry that departs Crisfield to Tangier daily) and  own the dock we tied to, were so friendly and told us to just stay docked right where we were. We took them up on their offer. Good people, I tell you!

We walked around town for a bit. The island is 3 miles long, by 2 miles wide. A good amount of that space is taken up by vast, lush green marshlands. You’ll find narrow alleyways adorned with tiny coastal cottages, little shops, a local history museum, and large pathways cutting through the heart of the marsh that connect the three main clusters of communities to each other.

And of course crab houses and workboats, as far as the eye can see. Canals also connect parts of the town, lots of folks were zipping around in little skiffs and jonboats. The Venice of the Chesapeake!

We went into a couple of the little shops (I’m always a sucker for a local cookbook), treated ourselves to slushies and ice cream at Four Brothers Crabhouse – a great spot to grab a quick bite,   and moseyed around town soaking it all in. Next time dinner and sunset are definitely on the agenda. I’d also like to take a tour by golf cart. Lots of locals offer this service right when you get off the ferry. It’s a great way to see the town and learn some local history from those who know it best!

Speaking of those locals, they speak a form of Old English dialect. Many of the settlers came from the Cornwall region of England hundreds of years ago, and since the island is so isolated – the accent has remained. I couldn’t help but listen to conversations, just to hear them “cut up” in their native tongue. I love to hear an old Chincoteaguer talk, but a Tanigerman? Could listen to words, quirky sayings and  their legendary “backtalk” all day long…

Afterwards we hopped back in the boat to head home, but not before we did a little bit more exploring. Went a bit to the north and anchored off of Uppards, the northernmost portion of the island. It was once inhabited 50 years ago, but erosion has taken it’s toll. Now it’s nothing but sandy beach and marshland.

I did a little beachcombing while the Jon and the boys enjoyed some time off the boat in the water and on the beach. You may have seen Tangier in the news recently, in national media reports. But, it’s another thing to see a headstone laying in the shoreline for yourself. The folks on Tangier have always been good at making due with what they have, and not relying on help – from anyone. But, they really need help from the outside to help combat the erosion problem. It’s a serious time-sensitive issue. Hopefully all this attention in the media lately will help on that front. I want my little ones to be able to bring their little ones to this special and unique place, in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, and share it with them one day.

Afterwards we took the 20 minute ride home across the sound. It was dinnertime, so we docked at Capt E’s Hurricane Bar & Grill in Saxis and enjoyed dinner. That’s such a fun little spot – good eats, drinks, and atmosphere. It’s also very convenient to dock and eat. Always alot of griping trying to get the boat on the trailer with hungry kiddos…

After a dinner of soft shell sandwiches (washed down by a Grapefruit Crush) we pulled the boat out and headed home.  It was a great day visiting our neighbors in the Bay, so different than my little coastal community, yet so much the same. You could say that for most of the towns here on the Eastern Shore, I guess. They all weave together to create the special fabric that is life here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. And for that, I’m so thankful that I get to call this place home!

It was only our first time, but most definitely won’t be our last. Thanks for giving the Davis family such a memorable day, Tangier! We will be back soon.

Summer is in full swing here on Chincoteague Island, officially. During the week the boys and I spend alot of time in the pool, or at the beach…but on the weekends we’re usually found on the boat. With the 4th of July weekend upon us, I thought it appropriate to share this mermaid-inspired margarita.

Mermaids happen to be crazy popular right now. But for a girl who’s had saltwater running through her veins since birth – I’ve always felt a kindship to them. Even more so now that I’ve gotten into sea-glassing and beachcombing. I can’t help but feel like those salty sirens sent up those pieces from the depths just for me to find…

Incidentally, I’ve always felt a kinship to tequila too. So, it was only natural to  combine those two things here on the blog eventually. Fresh margarita mix, combined with tequila and triple sec, and the addition of Blue Curacao to give it it’s signature blue hue. Don’t be lazy and buy the store-bought mixer, it takes all of three minutes to make your own. And once you do, you’ll never go back. Trust me.

I did a sugar-salt combination on the rim, I love the salty/sweet combo – much like the attitudes of my homegirls under the waves. Added some fresh lime zest too, loved the pop of color and flavor that it lent.

Garnished with a lime wedge skewered onto a dinglehopper , it’s a cocktail that I’d be proud to serve to any mermaid. Maybe I’ll come across one in our boat journeys this weekend…will make sure to have all the ingredients on hand, just in case one shows up.