I had the great honor and privilege to spend my birthday lunch with three of my favorite people at my favorite oyster bar. The company was none other than my beautiful wife and her delightful parents Jack and Marsha. The restaurant was the old, funky and charming Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station in New York. This institution is a combination old time counter and older time saloon. I prefer the saloon, so we ate at the bar. Don’t let the train station bar atmosphere fool you; this is a fantastic restaurant with the freshest oysters and most delicious clam chowder with a huge list of white wine by the glass to accompany the gems of the sea. I was in hog heaven.
Oysters are very good for you and, although a textural challenge at first, really good for the relationship (if you know what I mean). If you have never indulged, I suggest you find your earliest opportunity to do so. You and your significant other will both thank me.
Summer is not the ideal time for oysters, but they are always available and always delicious. September starts their long season, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about these delicacies. Having oysters at home requires three things: a REALLY GOOD fishmonger, an oyster knife and the courage to learn to shuck. I avoided the latter for years. There are several videos online to teach you, but here is a quick tutorial. Using a thick towel or oven mitt, firmly grasp the oyster with the “hinge” sticking out. Slide your knife into the hinge and work it back and forth until that baby pops open. Remove the top half completely and run your knife under the oyster to separate it from the bottom. Shake it gently to make sure it is completely unstuck.
- 1 Dozen Fresh Oysters (whichever your fishmonger says are the best raw)
- 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Shallot, minced
- Lemon Wedges
- Tabasco Sauce (optional)
- Crushed Ice
- Oyster Knife (thick, sharp, double edged short knife)
- Chef’s Knife
- Mixing Bowl
- Make a mignonette for the oysters by combining the vinegar, shallots and a good turn or two of black pepper. Whisk together in a bowl and pour into a small serving bowl with small spoon for application to the oyster.
- Shuck the oysters as described above.
- Serve on a bed of crushed ice with a few wedges of lemon, the mignonette and optional tabasco sauce. Some like cocktail sauce but I think it masks too much of the oyster taste.
Make sure to slurp up the liquor that surrounds the oyster. That’s the good stuff.