When you live by the sea, nothing rings in a new year like oysters and some bubbles.
Doesn't that look delicious? The first oyster is always the best because you get the full impact of an unlikely combination of rich and delicate flavor of the sea. It's the original sweet and savory "have your cake and eat it too" experience.
Look closely at the construction of an oyster. Both the shell and the creature appear wavy, like the ebb and flow of where they live at the wave break of the shoreline. We really are a product of our environment, aren't we?
Like any shellfish, an oyster must still be alive when it is either eaten on the half shell, or placed in boiling water. Make sure you have faith in your fish monger. The best ones will tap the oysters together before they go in the bag. A solid sound means the oyster is alive. A hollow sound implies it is dead or on the way out.
A dead oyster will give up it's shell easily. You want one that puts up a good fight when you try to open it.
The very freshest ones will have a lot of juice, or liqueur, in the shell. You can still eat it if it doesn't, it just means its been sitting on ice at the fish store for awhile.
Many people place so much sauce, scallions, horseradish and other items on the oyster that they can't taste the oyster anymore. I believe these people don't really like oysters, they like the "idea" of eating them when out with friends.
In my opinion, a true oyster lover takes them straight. And you finish by slurping the salt water left behind in the shell. That is bliss.
Today oysters are flown all over the country. You can get Eastern oysters on the west coast, and Pacific oysters in the east.
But oysters do have a season. Traditionally, oysters were harvested in the months with the letter "R" in them-- September through April.
Cold weather makes the meat fatter so the tastiest oysters come out of the water from November through March, before warming waters thin the flesh again.
Interestingly, although the oysters aren't as plump in the summer, people vacationing at the shore associate oysters with summer fare.
Here is a terrific guide to the various types of oysters, each with the nuanced flavor of the waters in which they grow.
The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station offers oysters from coast to coast for the best way to compare the flavor of different regions.
However you chose to ring in 2014 tonight, may you have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
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Dennis Oysters: So Special you can see them from Space
Stonewood Products and the Oyster with the Picasso Face
The Biggest Oyster Ever and I Ate It.