Champagne, Chablis, and white Bordeaux. In the case of Champagne and Chablis, many of the best the vineyards contain copious amounts of limestone. Limestone itself is formed in part from the fossils of marine skeletons; and thus, the wines that come from vines grown in limestone soils often have a minerally, oceanic tang that is exquisite as a counterpoint to oysters. I also love brisk, complex white Bordeaux. Oysters are harvested off the Atlantic coast just west of Bordeaux and so for centuries, the combination of white Bordeaux and oysters has been a classic in the brasseries and bistros of Paris.
There are four common oyster species and dozens of different varieties. Oyster varieties taste different depending on the water in which they’re grown.
Oyster species include Eastern or Atlantic oysters (crisp and salty), European Flat oysters (lemony and metallic), Olympia oysters, and Pacific oysters (mild, meaty, and sweet). Many oyster varieties are named for their place of origin, such as Bluepoints (an Eastern/Atlantic variety) and Belon (a European Flat variety). The only oyster indigenous to the West Coast is the Olympia oyster, which is also the smallest type.
Once shucked, oysters are graded and sold based on size. Selects are the largest and standards are the smallest. Oysters are typically packaged into containers filled with their own liquid. Sizes range from 8-ounce, 12-ounce, pint, or gallon containers.
Moving on to the more enjoyable aspects of oysters, where might be a few places to enjoy oysters? Though we are partial to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle in particular, oysters can be found almost anywhere. A few places on the east coast that I have enjoyed are the famous Acme Oyster House in Boston, Jake’s in Portland, Acme Oyster House in Nawlins, Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami and Vegas, and of course, our favorites, Etta’s, Chandler’s and Seabar in Seattle.
I asked the shucker at Acme in Nawlins how many oysters he has shucked in his life. He said on an average day, he shucks anywhere from 500 to 700 a day, 6 days a week. That totals 4200 a week, times 50 equals 210,000 a year. He has been doing this for 40 years, so his total, at the time we met, was 8.4 million!!!!
Here is a little secret. If you pretend to be rather naïve
about oysters, the waiter may offer a complimentary variety plate, to help you choose a half or full dozen. Please don’t tell them I mentioned this “inside” secret.
The often-asked question, is about what type of sauce to dip your oyster. This is entirely up to you. I prefer the cocktail sauce with a heavy dose of fresh, grated horseradish. Some prefer the champagne mignonette, and still others prefer just plain.
Whichever you choose, it is one of the BEST ways to start a dinner. Pair it with my champagne, and it becomes the IDEAL way to start. Of course, there have been times when the oysters were my dinner!!