My forgotten oyster tasting

Malpeques on ice

East Coast Malpeques, the world’s finest oyster

There is a story about Robert Benchley, or maybe it was James Thurber, in which he was awakened in the middle of the night by a brilliant story idea, scribbled furiously on the note pad at his bedside, then fell back into a blissful sleep. In the morning he looked at the notepad and it bore two words: “write book.”

I feel the same way about my oyster tasting hosted by Finn the Fishmonger a few weeks back, a Yelp event where we tried what were allegedly 3 of the 5 oyster species in the world and washed them down with rare beverages from Remarkable Liquids. I dictated madly into Evernote, was amused at the voice-to-text mistakes (Google’s voice capture app really does have a potty mouth) and then sat down to write this post and for whatever reason it was all gone. But I’ve still got the photos so let’s go from there.

Our host and purveyors

Eric from the Cheese Traveler, Dora from Finn the Fishmonger and Jeremy from Remarkable Liquids… thanks guys.

  1. There are probably way more than 5 oyster species in the world but it doesn’t really matter because oysters are total shape shifters depending on growing conditions. Take the same species and cushion it in a hanging net vs let the waves wash over it and you’ll get a totally different result.

  2. I finally found an objective reason to be glad to be on the East Coast: Malpeque oysters, AKA Bluepoints. These good sized morsels in tear drop shaped shells are universally said to have the best balance of taste and quantity of meat, and after comparative tasting I totally agree. In the 19th century they were so plentiful that they were eaten like potato chips and if you were in New York you could get them right out of the Hudson; their numbers have declined dramatically through overfishing and environmental factors but good marine husbandry has ensured a continuing supply.

  3. For something different, try the Belon. This Is the plate shaped oyster that appears in all your Renaissance still lifes. (Sadly, I failed to take a picture of it.) It’s hard to find and not particularly popular because of an unattractive brown layer and a coppery taste, but it’s worth pursuing if only to try something distinctively different with a history behind it.

Two Roads Workers Comp

Two Roads Workers Comp, one of several appropriately paired Belgians.

  1. Though I am an unrepentant IPA drinker, I have to agree with Jeremy of Remarkable Liquids that Belgians with their funky farmhouse yeast are the right beer to drink with oysters.

  2. According to our hostess, Finn co-owner Dora, the proper way to taste an oyster is to a/enjoy the initial taste and mouth feel; b/consume it in two bites and see what develops as the outer surface is breached to discover what’s inside; c/watch for an after taste, a few seconds after the second bite has slithered down your throat.

  3. If you happen to be in Guilderland, NY (a suburb not far from the state capitol offices) be sure to check out Finn the Fishmonger. The store has that briny but not fishy smell of a good fishmonger. A great selection of seafoods at fair prices, including cook-at-home dinners to take out and eat fresh. And oysters!

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2 Responses to My forgotten oyster tasting

  1. That sounds like my kind of night.

    I’d buy oysters and bring them home, but I’m a bit skittish about the prospect of prying them open. Maybe I should watch a few YouTube videos; that’s how I learn to do most things these days.

    • We got an oyster shucking lesson too… part of my notes that I lost. The most useful tip was that when you insert the shucking knife you should keep it pointed up, or at least flat, rather than down which damages the oyster. I find that when I bring some home to shuck I’m getting proficient just about the time I get to the last oyster. If you do want to experiment, be sure to wear a glove or hold a thick towel over the hand holding the oyster so you don’t stab yourself.

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