Guest Article by Sparkling Cindy
Ah, oysters, how I love thee. Bivalve molluscs are an excellent source of key vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and B12, zinc, iron, selenium and calcium, plus:
~ Oysters are good for your waistline. A dozen raw oysters clock in at only 110 calories
~ These little gems serve as magical H2O filters. They are able to clean the water source in which they live
~ Wonderful, lustrous pearls (a Sparkling Cindy favorite) are a big gift from the oyster
~ Oysters are considered to be an aphrodisiac. Oysters are rumored to have earned that status because they are said to resemble female sex organs, and the high zinc content aids in the production of testosterone (Oh gosh, my parents are reading this. Cringe. Huge cringe)
How can I further educate myself on oysters?
In the States, one of the foremost authorities on oysters is Rowan Jacobson. Rowan’s book entitled A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America
is passionate and playful—the first comprehensive guide to identifying, serving, and savoring one of America’s original and most delicious foods:
“Considered one of the great sensual foods since the time of ancient Rome, eaten in the United States since its earliest human habitation, oysters are now seeing an American renaissance. Like wine and cheese, they owe much of their flavor to terroir, or the specific environment in which they grow—indeed; oysters are the food that tastes most like the sea. Today, there are at least two hundred unique oyster “appellations” in North America, each producing oysters with a distinct and consistent flavor—some merely passable, others dazzling.”
At a restaurant, how do I choose oysters that fit my flavor profile preference?
Much like wine, the flavors of oysters change based on weather, region and method of cultivation. Oysterpedia, created by The Mermaid Inn restaurants in NYC, was designed to take the guesswork out of ordering oysters as well as to provide a reference tool for the oysters you have already tried. Oysterpedia is an app, available at iTunes, and can be your quick-pick reference for identifying your oyster of choice for slipping and slurping.
“As most die-hard oyster enthusiasts will tell you no oyster is alike. From texture and flavor, to the smoothness of its shell, each type of oyster has distinctly unique characteristics. Comparable to the complexities of wine, oysters have a range of flavors from spicy and briny to fruity and musky. In making sense of these subtleties, the region an oyster originates from, namely the East or West coast, can largely explain the difference in flavor, texture, and appearance.”
What wine should I pair with oysters?
If you live in or travel to Boston, here are a few of my fave oyster haunts, in no particular order:
- B&G Oyster, 550 Tremont Street. The pearl (pun intended) of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo. Pair with Cuvee Cat, a Gruner Veltliner. This proprietary wine is the result of a collaboration between their acclaimed sommelier Cat Silierie and Austrian winemaker Fred Loimer. Still hungry? The fried oysters and lobster BLT are great, but my favorite dish is the lobster orecchiette, which pairs homemade pasta, fava beans, roasted red peppers, pearl onions, and chunks of sweet lobster.
- Neptune Oyster, 63 Salem Street. Be sure to order some of the crudo, which is so fresh that it may bring tears to your eyes.
- Union Oyster House, 14 Union Street. It may feel staid—but hat’s the appeal! U.O.H is America’s oldest restaurant, and is steeped in history.
- Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Avenue. Ultra crisp and briny oysters. Pair them with the Raventos 1 Blanc “De Nit” Brut Rose Cava. Bubbles and oysters – does it get any better my dears? Well, yes, because of the lobster dishes. All are prepared with lobster from York Harbor, Maine, which is where my family has summered forever, so I stop in when feeling a wee bit homesick.
Outside of Boston, here are a few other favorite spots for oysters—raw or cooked—in the United States:
- Chatham, MA: Chatham Squire
- Chicago, IL: The Publican
- Kennebunkport, ME: Hurricane
- Nantucket, MA: Cru Nantucket
- New York City: Café Luxembourg
- Oak Park, IL: Hemmingways Bistro
- Ogunquit, ME: Arrows Restaurant
- Ojai, CA: Maravilla at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa
- San Francisco, CA: The Slanted Door
- Palm Springs, CA: Melvyn’s Restaurant
- Portland, ME: Hot Suppa!
- Provincetown, MA: Victor’s
- Washington, DC area: Gadsby’s Tavern
- Woodstock, VT: The Red Rooster at The Woodstock Inn
- York Harbor, Maine: 1637 at York Harbor Inn
Until next time . . . happy sipping and slurping,