The Dalmatian coast has a very long history of mariculture. Traces of primitive oyster farming-petrified oak branches with attached oyster shells-were noted by Roman chroniclers. The first written documents date from the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. Records from the 17th century provide details on the collection and sale of oysters.
The development of modern mariculture began at the end of 19th century with the establishment of oyster cultivation companies. Perhaps the high-point of this era was the 1936 World Exposition in London: The Grand Prix and Gold Medal for oysters from Mali Ston Bay were awarded to a Dubrovnik-based company, “Bistrina-cultivation and sale of oysters and other shellfish”. If you take one of our self-guided or guided bike tours from Split to Dubrovnik, you can see the medal (and taste some good oysters) in Restaurant Vila Koruna located in Mali Ston.
In rough terms, the approximate present level of shellfish production in the area is around 1 000 tons of mussels and 500 000 pieces of oysters annually.
Oysters are fullest and most delicious in March, when St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated. Gastro expert’s claim that oysters are best served when freshly opened with some lemon juice. You will have the opportunity to taste freshly opened oysters that carry the smell of the sea around St. Joseph’s Day (19th March) at the restaurants in Ston and Mali Ston. The Festival of Oysters is a gastro event which offers oysters and oyster dishes (oyster soup, oyster fritters, roasted oysters, fried or baked oysters in various ways) along with Dalmatian songs and a glass of supreme Pelješac wine.
During the Oyster festival, you will have the opportunity to taste great local wines from the Pelješac peninsula on the waterfront in Mali Ston, since many wine makers bring their wine to this festival. Of course, oysters and wine are available at more affordable prices than usual during the festival.
Locals mainly consume the oyster fresh, on ice as a cold hors-d’oeuvre, i.e. as an introductory dish in a gastronomically well-composed menu. As a cold dish it can be served as a cocktail, oyster salad, various oyster mignons, oysters in fish jelly, canapé sandwiches, etc.
See you in Ston this March!!