Oysters and champagne are an idyllic match, so this New Year’s Eve indulge in these briny delicacies.
Coincidentally, and delightfully, the year end celebration takes place in prime oyster season. The old adage is that oysters should only be eaten from September to April—cool months containing the letter “R”. The molluscs spoil faster in warm weather and are less tasty when spawning from May through August.
Living on the Canadian West Coast as I do, means that fresh, world-class oysters abound. British Columbia has the ideal environment in which to grow oysters: pristine fjords and inlets rich in phytoplankton and fed by clean, glacial streams. According to the British Columbia Shellfish Growers Association, BC oyster farms supply approximately 30,000 dozen oysters to global markets each week.
Each species has their own marine terroir, and thus unique taste. Oyster connoisseurs have coined their own term, Merroir (Mer, the French word for “sea”, and the wine term, Terroir (explained here), to describe the specific flavour profile. With names such as Royal Courtesan, Emerald Cove, Ship’s Point, Chef’s Creek, Little Wing, Kusshi, Whaletown, and Stellar Bay Gold (to list but a few), there is an extravaganza of oysters to enjoy.
It is said that eating an oyster raw tastes like “kissing the sea on the lips”, and if you and your guests are brave enough to do so, you can enticingly nestle the oysters of choice in a bed of crushed ice or wet rock salt and rim with lemon wedges. If unadorned is just too nervy for you, be advised that raw oysters are popularly served with Mignonette Sauce atop (here).
For non-purists like me, there are many wonderful recipes for oysters. To capture the taste of the ocean from whence they came, keep preparation simple. Breaded is traditional and delicious (recipe); French Oyster Stew is sophisticated and divine (recipe).
Oysters have a reputation as an aphrodisiac. I’ll leave that research to you, and move on to more provable science that deems oysters as rich in iron, copper and other minerals, all of which contribute to good health. Yay!
So put on your sparkly little black dress and perhaps some pearls, just in case you don’t find one in an oyster shell, and celebrate the end of the year and the dawning of 2016 in splendid style.
Oysters. Check. Champagne. Check.
The clock is ticking.
Pacific Fanny Bay Oysters (info)