Oysters in New Mexico

January 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

As followers of HG know all too well, HG loves oysters. When on PEI, HG devours scores from Malpeque and Rollo Bays. In Paris, favorite venue is Le Stella, the delightful brasserie in the staid 16th. Plenitude of riches in New York: Grand Central Oyster Bar; Daughter Victoria’s Cookshop Restaurant on 10th Avenue in Chelsea; a plateau de fruits de mer at Balthazar (a feast shared with Victoria); In Rhode Island, there’s the great Bristol Oyster Bar plus Hemenway’s in Providence. So, where does HG indulge oyster craving in landlocked New Mexico? Oysters are served at some Mexican seafood restaurants. They are on the menu at a few upscale places. Best of all, Friday is oyster night at the cafe in Santa Fe’s Whole Foods market. (Sometimes, there’s a “buck a shuck” offering). There are four varieties of oysters (including Malpeques) at the fish counter. Happily, there are well priced containers of shucked Pacific oysters. These are big, juicy specimens which BSK uses in oyster pan roast (mentioned in previous post) and congee made in the Instant Pot. BSK adds chopped oysters to robust congee flavored with clam juice, garlic, onions and Vietnamese Fish Sauce. Steaming bowls are topped with chopped scallions and salted peanuts after getting a dash of sesame oil and sriracha. Yes, the delightful bivalve is alive and well in The Land of Enchantment.

Rhode Island Culinary Epic

December 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG doesn’t want to exaggerate. However, HG wishes to state, without reservation, that last night was the ultimate culinary highlight of HG’s long and greedy life. It began at Bristol Oyster Bar, a beautiful restaurant on Hope Street in Bristol, Rhode Island. It is owned by Peter Sebring, a man who has spent his life fishing and farming oysters in Narragansett Bay. His salt water passion and knowledge is evident in the fresh shucked oyster platters at his restaurant. HG/BSK, Gifted Daughter Lesley R. and Brilliant Granddaughter Arianna R., arrived at the oyster bar at 5PM to take advantage of the “buck a shuck” offering. That’s right. Dollar an oyster. The hungry quartet knocked off dozens of oysters on ice lined platters. Plus excellent scallop ceviche. Bottle of very good Muscadet. HG was astonished. The oysters, especially the East Beach Blondes, were the best HG ever tasted. Better than Prince Edward Island’s Malpeques or the Rollo Bay gems. Better than the Normandy oysters at Le Stella brasserie in Paris. Back to the R. home in Riverside. A bit of Tito’s Vodka for HG and then a wonderful pasta. Pappardelle with porcini and cremini mushrooms. A Lesley triumph. Lush and balanced. Drank Beaujolais Nouveau. Then came superb taleggio and pecorino. Slices of ripe pear. Fig jam. A robust Cotes du Rhone red. HG sipped an after dinner grappa. Had a Face Time visit with birthday boy SJ and adorable Teru. Food. Family. Love. A shining night during a dark period of history.

Food and Drink Saviors

October 15th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Like The Lone Ranger, parmigiano rides to the rescue of modest Italian cooking. Sour cream does the same for Russian cuisine: Borscht and pelmeny are unthinkable without big dollops of sour cream. Ditto blini and red salmon caviar. Most folks find hamburgers inedible without a pour of ketchup. Hot dogs are sad and lonely without a smear of yellow mustard. HG likes shucked oysters au naturel, the better to inhale their briny goodness. This choice is not shared by many people who blunt the oyster taste with lemon juice, horseradish and unspeakable red sauce. Even the French, devout oyster lovers, serve the bivalves with a shallot vinaigrette. Go figure. HG likes rare steak the Tuscan way. Crushed garlic and olive oil atop the blood rare meat. During the PEI summer, BSK serves many a pot of steamed mussels and bowls of seafood chowders. HG enhances them with scoops of a mayonnaise and sriracha mix. At the cocktail hour, HG gives vodka on the rocks a few drops of Regan’s Orange bitters. BSK always adds a splash of Aperol to BSK’s pre-dinner glass of white wine. After dinner, HG makes a snifter of insipid brandy sing with an addition of Peychaud Bitters. When teetotalers are present, HG gives their glasses of sparkling water vibrant life with a few drops of Angostura bitters.

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PEI Bivalves

August 25th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Among the pleasures of summer on Prince Edward Island is the abundance of excellent bivalves–oysters, clams, scallops and mussels. Prices of these good things are much lower than in the United Sates. And, they are just-caught, right-off-the-boat fresh. While two of SJ and EM’s Brooklyn pals (with three lively kids) were visiting PEI, a festive dinner of bivalves fed the group. First course was Malpeque oysters shucked by HG. These were a revelation. They tasted like the very best Fines de Claire HG had consumed at Paris brasseries. HG usually favors Colville Bay oysters in the fall and late summer (they are a bit milky from spawning during mid-summer) or Savage Bay oysters, plump and mild. Malpeques are now first choice. They have long been the oyster most exported from PEI. At a 1900 food exhibition in Paris, they were awarded a prize as the world’s best tasting oyster (the flavorful guys haven’t gone downhill since then). BSK grilled some of the oysters on the barbecue (Modest disagreement. BSK and EM love grilled oysters. HG demurs). Earlier in the day, there was clamming on the shore of St. Mary’s Bay. The Brooklyn group learned fast and some 54 quahog were dug. They were steamed with four pounds of mussels. All of the bivalve juices enhanced BSK’s savory sauce of olive oil, garlic, onions, herbs, etc. Mussels, clams and sauce topped perfectly al dente Garofalo linguine. A caveat from HG. The mussels were disappointing. The flavor was pleasant but the mussels were tiny, a far cry from the plump juicy mussels that have long been a PEI signature. What has happened? The long, harsh winter? Ecological changes in St. Peters Bay and other mussel farming locales? HG hopes conditions change so the mussels return to their former splendor.

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Cooling Down

July 20th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

HG/BSK were at the lovely St. Peters Harbor Beach (A.K.A. The Bad Boy Beach according to grandson Haru) yesterday. Powdery white sand. Towering sand dunes and beach grass tossed by the breezes. Would have been perfect except for broiling heat. Hottest day HG/BSK ever encountered on Prince Edward Island. Even a plunge in the cold surf couldn’t cool HG sufficiently. HG/BSK’s home on the Island’s northeast shore proved to be an oasis. Shade, insulation and architecture that places windows to strategically pick up breezes and ventilation from every direction. After showering, HG listened to Scarlatti concertos and sipped Pernod (Pernod with lots of ice, cold water and a dash of Angostura Bitters) while watching gulls and herons skim over the sea. HG/BSK then proceed to a leisurely, deeply satisfying hot weather meal. Savage Harbor oysters on the half shell with shallot/vinegar condiment; grilled oysters with a dab of butter and lemon; grilled local asparagus dressed with garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Main dish was a platter of simply dressed garden lettuce topped with gently browned sea scallops. Drank some cold Pinot Grigio and finished with glasses of Argentine Trapiche and slivers of Oka cheese. Delightful dining on a rare scorcher in PEI.

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Oyster Pancake A La Exquisite Maiko

February 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Whole Foods is now carrying containers of shucked East Coast oysters (better than those big, tasteless oysters from the Pacific). Provided the impetus for a nice light dinner of Japanese oyster pancakes (Okonomiyaki) . EM, HG/BSK’s lovely Japanese daughter-in-law, is a talented chef and caterer. Efforts to emulate her cuisine often fall short, but the flavors are so great that it is still worthwhile to try. BSK followed EM’s recipe and made a batter of egg, Wondra flour and milk. Mixed it with slivers of cabbage, scallions, carrots and plenty of chopped oysters. Turned out splendidly. Crisp, lacy, greaseless pancakes with plenty of sea flavor and crunch. BSK likes these pancakes with a squirt of Japanese Bull Dog Sauce, a semi- sweet condiment. HG sticks to a light dusting of truffle salt and a squeeze of lemon. Thank you, Maiko.

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Colville Bay Bigs

September 11th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Bigger is better in oyster land. HG loves a big, plump briny oyster. There are those that fancy the little guys — the west-coast Kumamotos and such. Patricia Wells, the excellent restaurant critic, cooking teacher, food authority is a member of that party. HG is in opposition. This week HG stopped at Colville Bay Oysters in Souris, Prince Edward Island. HG asked the genial proprietor, Johnny Flynn, for a dozen of the biggest oysters in the house. Johnny picked out some bruisers, each between three and four inches in length. Thick oysters, their shells tinted slightly green (a signature of Colville Bay) filled with luscious brine. They were, without question, the best oysters HG ever tasted. Perfectly balanced between sweetness and sea brine. The texture? It was like eating oyster steaks. The dozen cost 14 dollars. HG was curious about the price of oysters and checked out the oysters at some of HG’s favorite Parisian brasseries. Big, high quality oysters sell for five bucks each. Obviously, the inexpensive brasserie-served plateau de fruits de mer is now, like the inexpensive New York apartment, just a fond memory. HG will confine oyster gluttony to Prince Edward Island. Affordable. And, Johnny Flynn’s product is better than anything the French, British or Irish shores can produce. (BSK insists on a positive mention of Colville Bay’s regular sized oysters: They are of the same delicious quality as the bigs, just smaller and will make most oyster aficionados very happy.)

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Oyster Bliss Revisited

July 13th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

Recently, HG posted a paean of praise dedicated to the South Lake oyster, one of Prince Edward Island’s tasty bivalves. A wonderful oyster; indeed, HG called it PEI’s best. Last night, HG/BSK had an experience that put that proposition in doubt. The duo’s generous neighbor, Chuck P., arrived at the door with a bag of a dozen oysters. They were from Johnny Flynn’s Colville Bay Oyster Co.. Although South Lake and Colville Bay are geographically close to each other (in the vicinity of the town of Souris), the oysters have recognizably distinctive tastes. Which is best? HG shucked the dozen Colville Bay plus six big oysters from South Lake. A bottle of chilled New Zealand Marlboro sauvignon blanc was opened and poured. Then, the judicious tasting experience began. Of course, both oyster varieties were delicious, better than anything HG/BSK had experienced in New York, New England, Paris, London and Vancouver. But, the winner of this very close contest was the Colville Bay oyster. Plump and full of brine and juice. A pure distillation of the sea. Is this variety PEI’s best ? HG will not leap to judgment. HG has not yet tasted the lauded Pickle Point or Rasberry Point varieties.

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Oyster Bliss

July 10th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Are you (like HG/BSK) a passionate oyster lover? Then read on and turn bright green with envy. Prince Edward Island has long been famous for its Malpeque oysters and these are the oysters which are exported all around the world. They are splendid bivalves, indeed, but the true king of oysters is PEI’s South Lake oyster. This oyster is big, lush, briny. Incomparable. HG drops by the local fish store (By the Bay Fish Mart) and picks up a half dozen for the evening appetizer. The obliging fish lady picks out the biggest and best for HG, her steadiest customer. The price is $1.10 each. HG gets a modest discount when HG buys in quantity for a family feast. Don’t look for South Lake oysters at your fish monger. They never leave the Island. Too bad, oyster fanatics.

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Generous Guests. Grey Skies.

June 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Little chance for sunburn on Prince Edward Island. Grey skies. North wind. Rain in the future. Friends Peter H. (the distinguished author/journalist/wine authority) and his equally distinguished economist wife, SCH, have arrived . Seem undismayed by the weather as they have left a very steamy New York behind. The generous couple came heavily laden with culinary treats. To wit: Croissants (better than Paris). Bagels. Bialys. Authentic Jewish rye bread. Bonito flakes. Coffee. Nuts. Halvah. Great wine. And, more, much more. Such thoughtfulness should be rewarded so HG/BSK greeted the duo with freshly shucked South Lake oysters (better than Malpeques) and dry smoked salmon. Dinner was BSK’s version of Mapu Tofu with a sauce of ground pork, onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. Plus some room temperature capellini with a dash of sesame oil and sriracha. Peter/SCH were introduced to Canadian butter tarts as dessert. They approved.

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