Virtuoso Life - November/December 2017 - 125
Tomales Bay bounty at
Saltwater Oyster Depot.
Ryan Prewitt, chef-partner of Donald Link's sterling seafood house,
Pêche, in New Orleans (800 Magazine Street; pecherestaurant.com),
breaks down how to break open an oyster.
1. Grab an oyster knife. "When dealing with Gulf oysters, which
tend to be large, you want one with some heft," Prewitt says. "A little leverage doesn't hurt."
2. Holding the oyster hinge side up, work the blade carefully
into its shell.
3. Twist the knife slightly
so its torque pops open the shell -
"don't freak out on it, or you'll cut yourself," Prewitt says. "Move with
finesse, not power."
Farmed versus Wild
"Few oysters are truly wild in
America," Ben Crispin says, but
the term is typically used to describe oysters planted directly
into the sea bottom and left to
grow without human intervention, which demands very clean
water and a hard, rocky bottom.
"If the bottom is muddy, the
baby oysters can't breathe and
they die," he explains. Farmed
oysters are seeded in bags and
cages, suspended off buoys and
docks, and are fair game for
techniques such as tumbling,
in which oysters are rolled or
shaken to chip off their edges.
"This causes what's called 'cupping up,' " Crispin says. "Instead
of growing longer, they'll grow
deeper and have more even and
La Saint Simon (small)
Shippagan, New Brunswick
"Briny, with a sweet,
Mermaid Cove (small)
Prince Edward Island
"Delicate umami, clean
4. Once it's open, slide your knife over the oyster to slice off
the top shell. "Be careful not to cut into the meat," he cautions. "A cut-up
oyster is a disgrace."
5. Slip your knife under the oyster to slice it off the bottom shell.
A well-shucked oyster moves freely and floats in a pool of its liquor. "It
looks like God came down from on high and plucked the top shell free,"
Get hands-on shucking lessons at the 155-room Thompson Seattle.
Held at the hotel restaurant, Scout PNW, the November 6 and December 4
installments of the hotel's new culinary class series focus on oyster opening (and eating) with chef Josh Henderson. Doubles from $239, including
breakfast daily, a cocktail at the rooftop lounge, and a one-way airport transfer
or complimentary parking for two nights. Oyster-shucking class from $60.
Glidden Point (large)
Maine's Damariscotta River
"Briny, crunchy, plump,
Spring Creek (medium)
Barnstable Harbor in
Cape Cod Bay
"Great seaweed notes and greenness from algae in the water."
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