Yesterday we celebrated our third annual Oysterfest. It’s a special thing when the stars align to bring together group of people whose shared love of raw mollusks is so steadfast that they are compelled to purchase 200 oysters and eat them all, sitting on a back porch in the San Francisco sunshine*. To repeat this celebration of the ocean’s bounty on the regular, now that’s how you know you’ve stumbled upon an exceptional group of folks—25+ oysters a person is nothing to scoff at. It’s on days like Oysterfest that I can’t believe my luck. To live in this beautiful city with such wonderful friends and exceptional food, I’m living the dream.
If you happen to have a group of friends similarly dedicated to the celebration of oysters and live in the Bay Area, it is easy (and surprisingly affordable) to secure a few bushels of oysters for your enjoyment at the Alemany Farmer’s Market from Point Reyes Oyster Company. Throw your bushels of oysters in a cooler, pour a few bags of ice on top, and get ready to shuck.
The best way to shuck an oyster (and minimize the amount of shell shrapnel you ingest) is to insert the tip of the oyster knife in the hinge of the oyster, apply firm pressure downwards at a 45 degree angle until the knife tip goes into the oyster and the oyster releases the suction holding it’s shell shut. The two halves of its shell will loosen and you can more easily run your knife around the edges to free the oyster from the shell. Detach the oyster foot from the shell, apply your condiments and enjoy!
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl or jar, mix together the shallot, vinegar and salt and pepper. Let sit for the flavors to combine. Serve a small spoonful over a raw oyster.
1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.75 oz lapsang simple syrup
4 – 5 basil leaves (or mint)
2 strawberries, sliced
For the lapsang simple syrup, make 2 cups strong lapsang tea and mix with 2 cups turbinado sugar. Stir to dissolve and keep refrigerated. In a cocktail shaker, place sliced strawberries, lemon juice, simple syrup and basil leaves (slapped). Muddle. Add whiskey. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 8 – 10 seconds. Double strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with sliced strawberries and a slapped basil leaf.
So make yourself a cocktail, grab an oyster knife and shuck your friend an oyster … or twenty.
*The day usually starts off sunny and 65° F, but come 4 pm, the fog is rolling in thick and it’s time to bust out the jackets and blankets.
Ps. Last year’s Oysterfest and several phenomenal hot sauce recipes to accompany your oysters.