Hungry for More: Inside Carlsbad Aquafarm
In the waters of North County’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Carlsbad Aquafarm has been sustainably cultivating shellfish, including mussels and oysters, for 20 years. The 5-acre farm works with scientists from local institutions to ensure it has minimal impact on the lagoon’s natural environment, the shellfish is harvested in a manner that prevents accidental by-catch, and nothing artificial is added to the water they’re raised in. The farm is also collaborating with marine ecologists to revive the fishery of a slow-growing, near-extinct native Californian species called Olympia.
Carlsbad Aquafarm’s shellfish are available in fish markets and restaurants primarily in California. Local spots include The Oceanaire’s oyster bar, which often shucks one or two types of Carlsbad oysters, such as the petite Lunas, which have a clean, briny flavor and slight metallic finish, or the sweet and delicate Del Sols. Ritual Tavern in North Park highlights Carlsbad oysters every Thursday night, and Sea Rocket Bistro and Ritual both feature the aquafarm’s buttery-textured mussels on their regular menus.
The farm operates a booth at the Santa Monica and Hollywood farmers’ markets, and in October, began selling directly to shoppers at the Hillcrest farmers’ market, with hopes to expand into other local markets. At the Carlsbad Aquafarm stand, you can take home a dozen oysters or 2 pounds of mussels for $10, or slurp freshly shucked oysters for $2 each. 760-438-2444, carlsbadaquafarm.com.