Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oyster Obsession Part 1: Raw

A couple of weeks ago, I ate oysters for the first time in probably ten years.  For some reason, I was of the firm opinion that they weren't anything special.  Well that opinion changed with a visit to Merchant's Oyster Bar on the Drive where I enjoyed four different varieties of icy, on-the-half-shell oysters.  Delicious and salty and slippery with just a touch of lemon.

Merchant's does buck-a-shuck after 9:00 pm, which is when we went.  When the oysters arrived at the table I was quite disappointed that they were already shucked!  I thought we were shucking them ourselves and because I had never shucked an oyster before I was quite excited.  Needless to say my girlfriends made a lot of fun of me when I mentioned this.  Now that I have shucked my own, I can see why "shuck your own oysters" might not work as a restaurant concept.

My oyster adventure started with a trip to The Daily Catch on Commerical Drive.  Last October I took part in a Social Bites cooking competition and as part of the chef goodie bag I got a $25 gift certificate to The Daily Catch.  Being out of town and then caught up in the craziness of Christmas, it took me until now to make my way into the store.

The oysters are a great deal ranging in price from $1 to $2 bucks.  I bought a selection because, as you will see, this is just the first in a series of oyster obsession posts.

For my raw experience, I ate the $2 oysters.  I can't remember the name so you'll have to go in and ask yourself or give the store a call at 604-253-3474.  The oysters are a small size and are quite easy to open yourself.  As most sources will say, make sure your oyster shells are closed or that they close when poked.  This means your little oyster is alive and won't kill you with rottenness.

I didn't buy an oyster shucking knife because I don't know how often I'll be shucking and, quite frankly, it seems unnecessary.  I just used a knife with a good point and a blade that I don't care about.  The key is to find the oysters weak spot.  Once you can get a little bit of the knife in, jiggle it around until it slides all the way in and then twist.  The top shell should pop off.  Don't get discouraged, it takes a few oysters to get good.  Be careful not to spill the liquor.  That is the best part.

Once your oyster is popped open, settle it onto a bed of ice to get it nice and cold.  Get a little piece of lemon and squeeze it into the waiting shell.  Pick it up and inhale deeply.  Mmmm, the smell of the ocean.  Then open wide and let it slip, slide down your throat.  It is a wonderfully sensual food and with valentine's day coming up, is an excellent choice for a celebration with your lover.

Up Next? Oyster Obsession Part 2: Meat

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Shonagh explores the guts of food in An Offal Experiment.

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