“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
The quote above represents two things I love: oysters and Ernest Hemingway…and wine. Make that three things I love.
(FYI, I do not quote Hemingway while eating oysters – that would just be pretentious. )
Lest you assume I hail from some sophisticated coastal upbringing that influenced my palate, let me assure you that I most certainly do NOT. I hail from the landlocked, blue-collar, Midwestern town of Ypsilanti, Michigan, and am the offspring of a man who eats well-done hamburgers with no cheese or condiments.
My interest in oysters admittedly was sparked during a three-year stint of living in Connecticut. I was fortunate enough to attend a farm-to-table dinner at a local restaurant – the “farm” portion being an oyster farm. The oyster farmer was in attendance, and the talented James Wayman prepared oysters in a variety of ways (both cooked and raw) that I never even fathomed to be possible.
Though all the preparations were delicious, my favorite way to enjoy oysters remains on the half-shell. I unabashedly proclaim my love for east coast oysters over west – some may say I’m biased from living on the CT/RI coast; however, I honestly do prefer their saltier, more minerally taste.
I order fresh oysters whenever I get the chance. In Michigan, those chances are harder to come by – though I’ve found a few reliable sources. Whenever I’m on vacation or a work trip and I get the opportunity to dine at a good restaurant, I order a plate of oysters (usually on someone else’s tab – those babies aren’t cheap).
When I eat oysters, I don’t use cocktail sauce – I prefer them plain and salty, though I occasionally squeeze some fresh lemon (and the Common Grill in Chelsea serves theirs up with a little garlic-y concoction that is absolutely divine on a Connecticut Blue Point).
I also usually (though not always) take a photo, because apparently the novel of eating something raw that comes in a seashell never wears off). Here are some (but most definitely not all!) of the oysters that I enjoyed in 2011 – pour yourself a glass of Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc (my two faves with these shellfish) and take a gander:
Where’s your favorite place to get oysters? Anywhere – you never know where I’ll end up!