One of the things I love about living on the edge of cold northern waters in Massachusetts is succelent, salty, lovely, always ready-to-eat oysters.
And here on the final day of the “months with R” run we’ve had since September, I’m celebrating the arrival of a weekend guest with local varieties: Duxbury, Wellfleet, Wianno.
These cold water northern oysters are perfect for eating raw. (As opposed to, say, Gulf oysters which really shine when deep fried and mounded in a Po’ Boy or left in the shell and topped with the anything your heart desires before a quick toast under the broiler.)
Because we can get really gorgeous ones at a grocery store like Whole Foods for 99 cents a piece, we bring them home and shuck them ourselves instead of paying double or triple at a raw bar. And it also means we can get just as many as we want for 2 or 4 or 6 rather than having to do a whole platter. Best, we’re learning a lot about DIY oysters as well as really getting to taste and understand regional and seasonal flavors at our own pace. No, actually, “best” is just picking up a few when we don’t intend to, bringing them right home and having them for a lunch appetizer before the groceries are even unpacked. We just aren’t that fancy about them. Nor should you be.
I’m a squeeze of lemon person but my husband goes either way with lemon or malt vinegar. Even our daughter likes to lick the shells. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a foodie’s child.
Today we have the rather unorthodox pairing of gin and tonics with our oysters. Just because we have excellent organic gin burning a hole in our curious cabinet of cocktails. Traditionally stout is a great companion to oysters, which we tend to abide in colder months. And on other days, we either just grab whatever sparkly bubbly thing is on sale or use Natalie Maclean’s Food and Wine Matcher when we want to be really by-the-book.
If you want to learn a bit more about oysters in your area, check out one of my favorite online oyster resources the Oyster Guide or a previous In Season podcast on oysters.
Coincidentally, as I type this, I just received word from the Harvard Farmers’ Market, where I did a cooking demo last fall, on a CSA for fish: Cape Ann Fresh Catch. This is my favorite part of the email: “In traditional markets, fishermen are forced to chase whatever species is fetching the highest price that week. By taking a mix of these species at the same price week-to-week (about $3/lb), fishermen are able to fish areas that are not stressed by the rest of the fleet and give species and ecosystems time to recover.” So while I’m excited about the idea of fresh, local fish that has never been frozen and comes from right around the corner, I think it’s this bit that appeals to me most.