A piece of folk wisdom concerning oysters is that they are best to eat in months containing the letter r, as illustrated by the famous phrase: “OYSTERS IN THE “R” MONTHS.” In the past, it was said that one should refrain from eating oysters during the warmer months and have-at-em during colder months, or the months with an “R” in the name. The reasoning behind this was two-fold.
One reason was that, because heat encourages the growth of bacteria, balmy summer waters were a breeding ground for disease. Limiting harvests to “R” months was the answer.
The other reason, more an issue of quality, was that, because oysters spawn during the summer months, their meat weighed less and was of poorer quality than the sugar-rich meat of an oyster that was bulking up for the cold, dormant winter that lay ahead. Who would you rather snuggle up with: Marilyn Monroe or Mary Kate Olsen? A sweet, plump oyster or an anorexic oyster? My money’s on Marilyn. And the Delicious Naked Cowboy & Shabumi.
Because of spawning and safety issues, some varieties of oyster are still only available during “R” months. But, with today’s farm-raising regulations and technology, many varieties of oyster can be enjoyed year-round.
Noah Grant’s supplier is going to try their very best to provide a safe product, because what happens if they don’t? People get sick, the supplier gets slapped with a lawsuit and, suddenly, the money formerly set aside for that flashy new speed-boat is going to pay for someone else’s medical bills. Actually, oysters plucked, legally, of course, from farms are raised in strictly monitored and regulated waters making bacteria outbreaks pretty rare.
Wild oysters and farmed oysters generally taste the same, but it’s the regulating that makes a difference. Wild oysters are eaten safely and with pleasure all the time, but farmed oysters are babysat to ensure safety.
Oysters are sometimes cited as an APHRODISIAC. It is disputed whether this is true. According to the Telegraph of London a team of “American and Italian researchers analyzed bivalve mollusks – a group of shellfish that includes oysters – and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.” If there is such an effect, it may be due to the soft, moist texture and appearance of the oyster; it may also be due to their high zinc content. So, try a dozen on your next anniversary!
Customers buy hundereds of Blue Points weekly for their large size, clean, briney flavour & value. These are always a safe choice, but my favorite, along with our best Oyster Customer, Mr. Trexler, would agree that Kusshi, Cup of Angels, & Malpeque top the exquisite list!
PAIRING WINE WITH OYSTERS A very dry white wine—a French Chablis, Pouilly Fuisse, or Champagne—are the “safest” match for oysters, especially when the two are served at the same chilly temperatures. The interesting thing about Chablis, Pouilly Fuisse and Champagne is that all these wines are made from the same grape varietal; Chardonnay (although Champagne, is usually blended from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and smatterings of Pinot Meunier). Knowing this, it might stand to reason that one could substitute Chardonnay made from more readily available sources such as California or Australia, but here is where logic gets screwy. Since the grape growing regions of California and Australia are so much warmer than those of France, Chardonnays from these areas generally lack the lemony tartness and sense of lightness that make the French wines so appropriate for oysters. By the same token, the same can be said about most other white varietals associated with the warmer (Southern) parts of France—such as Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne—which tend to make lower acid, fuller alcohol wines, less than optimal matches for the blue-grey oyster. My personal 3 favorites to date: Huber Hugo Gruner Veltliner, any French Sancerre & Steele Black Bubbles Sparkling Syrah. DELICIOUS!
OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER is a famous oyster dish created at the New Orleans institution Antoine’s. Antoine’s was founded in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore, who moved to New Orleans after two frustrating years in New York to open a restaurant of his own. The dish was named Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time. Jules Alciatore, Antoine’s son, developed Oysters Rockefeller based on another of his recipes in the face of a shortage of French snails and diners’ declining taste for them, substituting oysters for snails. Antoine’s has been serving the original recipe dish since 1899. Oysters Rockefeller has been described as a combination of oysters, parsley, and parmesan cheese, topped with a rich sauce of butter, herbs and breadcrumbs. A customer or 10, have personally told me our Oysters Rockefeller, available by the each, are the BEST in town. Don’t tell Oceannaire!
HOW DO YOU SHUCK OYSTERS? I say to leave it to the professionals. However; if you must… http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?p=how+to+shuck+oysters
OYSTERS- MALE OR FEMALE? There is no way of telling male oysters from females by examining their shells. While oysters have separate sexes, they may change sex one or more times during their life span. The gonads, organs responsible for producing both eggs and sperm, surround the digestive organs and are made up of sex cells, branching tubules and connective tissue.
IS THAT A TINY CRAB IN MY OYSTER? It is a species of crab (Pinnotheres ostreum) that has evolved to live harmoniously inside an oyster’s shell. These dime-sized crabs, much sought after by gourmands, are not abundant. Ask your server about the crabs we find at times! They are fun to watch, catch & dump in your child’s bathtub! Ask my son, Noah; he thinks it’s not very funny, though.
HOW DO PEARLS END UP INSIDE? An oyster produces a pearl when foreign material becomes trapped inside the shell. The oyster responds to the irritation by producing nacre, a combination of calcium and protein. The nacre coats the foreign material and over time produces a pearl.
Not very romantic, I know.
Health Tip: Because raw foods including oysters may carry bacteria, persons with chronic liver disease, impaired immune systems or cancer should avoid eating raw oysters.