What is Merroir?

Place Matters

You’ve heard of terroir as a descriptor of wine, cheese and honey. The land, water and climate contribute to the distinct qualities of the produce. There’s a similar term in shellfish, merroir, from the French word mer which means sea.

So place matters. It’s an essential component of a shellfish’s flavor. The temperature of the water, the currents, the runoff from the land – all contribute to the type of plankton, trace minerals and elements of the water column. This in turn, creates the unique flavor-profile of an oyster, scallop, clam, mussel and lobster.

Maine is home to a diverse and interesting landscape of growing areas and tastes within its 3,500 miles of coastline. Understanding the local “merroir” of a bay and the fresh water river that feeds it, is a key to appreciating the essence of her shellfish. The waters of Maine give each species its own merroir, or taste of Maine.

The pristine waters of the Gulf of Maine boast well managed, sustainable fisheries and seafarms for hard and soft shell clams, rope grown mussels, dayboat scallops, farmed and wild scallops, oysters, Jonah and Peekytoe crab, kelp, a wide variety of ground fish, Atlantic salmon, Bluefin tuna and of course lobster. Each is a leading example of modern stewardship. 

Oysters

Oysters, like us, are mostly defined by where they were raised. 

Maine is home to over 150 individual oyster farms which collectively produce more than 3 million bivalves annually. Dozens of oyster varietievs exist. Each is defined from one another by location where it was harvested and the characteristics passed along from the environment. Things like water temperature, currents, and runoff from the land—they all are paints on the canvas that is a part of an oyster’s flavor profile.

The pure and pristine waters of Maine

Did you know that Maine has some of the cleanest water in the world?

Maine is 89 percent forested, more than any other state in the U.S. That means our rivers run through these vast forested watersheds, not industrial parks. The water that arrives at the Gulf of Maine is crystalline, clean, and full of nutrients. How lucky are we?

Steamer Clams

Steamer clams are one of Maine’s finest exports. 

Every day, hundreds of hardworking diggers harvest steamers from up and down the Maine coast. These live clams, born in the constantly refreshing ebbs and flows of the fresh and saltwater estuaries, are delivered directly to your local fishmonger in Fairfield County.

Close to Shore

In most coastal areas along the east coast, inshore temperatures are too warm to harvest shellfish. Not in Maine.

Our deep crenelated bays and colder water closer to shore provide a habitat for shellfish that is unlike anywhere else on the east coast. Characteristics like salinities, acidities, and runoffs from the lands inland all play a role in the life of the shellfish.  The flavor profiles that result are exquisite.

Changing Tides

It’s not just the proximity to shore that creates such a beautiful bounty. The Gulf of Maine’s comparatively high tides act like a pool that constantly empties and refreshes itself. The water column over our scallops, oysters, claims and mussels is ever-changing, full of new nutrients and crystalline ocean water.  It’s refreshed hourly by constantly moving waters from the sea and rivers. Nutrients are brought in and flushed thoroughly twice each day. That environment is ideal for growing and harvesting shellfish. From the Gulf of Maine to your plate.

Where shellfish grows contributes greatly to its taste

A particular body of water imbues its character and microclimate on the plants and animals who live and grow within it. What minerals are present in the water? Is the water briny and oceanic or is it less salty from its proximity to river flow? What are the plants on the surrounding shore? Are there pine forests or plains or rocky coasts which carry their unique character into the water as land meets sea? All these elements significantly affect the water and create a unique flavor in the seafood harvested from them.

Scallops

Maine’s cold and rich inshore water produce the best-tasting scallops in the world. Strict regulations and limits ensure they are landed within hours of harvest, and each of the many unique bays imparts a distinctive flavor profile to the scallops that grow there. A Cobscook Bay scallop will taste different from a Casco Bay scallop, which in turn is quite different from a Gouldsboro Bay scallop. They’re all good—just different!

Maine scallops are gathered by fishermen working in dayboats, not by the large industrial ships that stay at sea for weeks at a time.  We have a short harvest season during the cold winter months to help these mollusks thrive over time.  We flash freeze them immediately off the boat, so that they can be served up all year round. Each bag of frozen scallops is labeled with its place of harvest, harvest, the Captain’s name and the vessel which harvested it. 

Maine is also the only place in the US where scallops are still collected by divers.  A diver scallop is hand-picked from the bottom of the sea – one at a time which is good for the health of the seabed. 

So true diver scallops only come from Maine and be sure to buy them from a trusted fishmonger who can verify the sourcing.

We’re bringing the most authentic scallops anywhere straight to you in Connecticut. We want to show you what scallops are supposed to taste like.

Lobster

Maine lobster is sustainably harvested by fishermen who operate their small businesses year-round in the cold waters of the Gulf of Maine. Some might argue that Maine lobster is the perfect food. It is sweet, tender, high in protein, and contains immune system supporting vitamins and nutrients like selenium, zinc, and Vitamin D.

Lobster, or Homarus Americanus, can be found live, or fresh or frozen picked meat is also available. No matter what form you purchase your lobster, it is fast, versatile, and easy to cook. Enjoy lobster in rolls or in a dip, cook with lobster in a risotto or on a pasta, or add lobster to a cobb salad.

Maine lobster is special because of where it comes from and how it gets to shore. Maine lobstermen operate small businesses and that means they are involved in every aspect of bringing the boat from the ocean floor to market. They take care in harvesting the product and are advocates for a healthy ecosystem because they know a healthy environment is key to producing the best tasting lobsters in the world. 

Maine lobster is an icon for a reason. Ask your fishmonger for Maine live or picked lobster meat year round!