If you don't know the difference in taste between a Beausoleil oyster and a Malpeque, a Pemaquid vs. a Katama Bay, or you can't distinguish between a Washington State Kumamoto and a California Kumamoto, there's an app for that. Pearl, which is free, offers users a list of 319 varieties and photos, with flavor notes (buttery, sweet, mossy, etc.), and other attributes (brininess, size, cultivation method). Some profiles offer a Web link to the oyster farm. Founder Sam Asher, who launched Pearl in June, says it's possible the app may one day list more than 500 oysters. Pearl also has a drop-down menu that lets users browse oysters on 300 menus in 11 cities, including Boston. These are updated regularly to reflect varieties on offer (neither restaurants nor oyster farms are charged for this).
Asher, whose family has roots in the Boston area, traces his obsession with oysters to summers on Martha's Vineyard. The New York resident began working on Pearl when he decided that oysters were a growing market with few apps. "There are 14,000 restaurants and thousands of places serving oysters," Asher says. "There are hundreds of oyster farmers and each oyster is unique, and farmers want to share their story." He is diplomatic about his own favorite bivalves. He offers the Shigoku from Washington State, but admits his bias trends East Coast. "I do love Wellfleets, Island Creeks [from Duxbury], and East Beach Blondes [Rhode Island]." Pearl is available only for iPhones, but an Android version will be released soon. www.pearlapp.co