Oysters: My Favorite Bivalve

“He was a bold man who first ate an oyster” – Jonathan Swift

I don’t know what it is, but there is something distinctly Southern about oysters.  Rough on the outside, a beauty all their own, tough to get into, but great at the core.  There isn’t much grey area in terms of oysters as a delicacy – you either love them or hate them.  I fall into the ‘love’ category.

I picked up my love of oysters from my dad.  He ate them all the time.  While there was some serious skepticism because of how they looked, he loaded one up on a cracker with some horseradish and cocktail sauce and I was hooked.  I’ve evolved to eating them raw the vast majority of the time, but I’m not that picky – nor a snob about it.  Put ’em in front of me, and I’ll eat them.  While there are some great places for oysters around here, I always make it a point to stop at New York’s Grand Central Oyster Bar every time I’m in the city.  It’s a great experience.

Getting to the goods is a talent in itself.  I have tried to shuck an oyster, but came to the quick conclusion that if my life depended on it – I would starve.  There are some that really know what they are doing:

Our friends at Garden & Gun picked Williams Knife Co. as the overall winner for their ‘Best of the South’.  They produce some of the most beautiful oyster knives you’ve ever seen.  This is the ‘Edisto’:

Back in college, I was down on the Gulf Coast for a Fraternity Formal.  A few of my fraternity brothers and I found a place that did a happy hour: $20 for all the cheap beer you can drink and all the raw oysters you can eat between 3-5PM…something like that.  We put a serious dent in the beer and the oysters…but that’s not the story.  The in-house shucker was a show himself.  Dressed in overalls and a steel mesh glove, he shucked the oysters as fast as we could eat them.  It was amazing – he was a machine.

How I like ’em (in no particular order.  Well, I do eat them raw 90% of the time):

  • Raw: Don’t be scared.  
  • On a cracker with horseradish and/or cocktail sauce: The ‘California Roll’ for entry into oyster eating.  It’s still good.
  • Oysters Rockefeller: Good and rich.
  • Angels on Horseback: Bacon wrapped.  Enough said.  (I prefer cheddar rather than pepper jack) 
  • Fried on a Po Boy: Exactly what you think…good bread is a must.

Want to show off a little oyster pride?  Here you go:

The oyster buckle (bottom right) from Narragansett Leather – So cool.  Placed my order today.

Silver Oyster Shell Cufflinks from Mark Lexton

‘Oyster Shooter’ from Knot Belt Co.  My favorite from their entire line.

Painting Credit: Triple Oyster by Bellamy Murphy

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11 Comments

  1. Sam in Charleston
    12/12/2011 / 9:34 AM

    Not steamed?? The oyster roast is as much a social event as it is an excuse to gather around a table of hot oysters, cheap beer, and good friends–doesn’t get much better than that on a cool winter night in the South.

    Though I’m definitely spoiled by the huge oysters pull off the marsh here in Charleston, the little guys you shell out $3+ a piece for in restaurants don’t even compare.

  2. Mitch Myers
    12/12/2011 / 12:10 PM

    I have a whole photo album on my fb page dedicated to oysters called “My favorite thing on earth”.

  3. Ryan R
    12/13/2011 / 1:43 AM

    The best oysters I have ever had in all my years and countless trips to the Gulf have got to be the charbroiled oysters at Drago’s in the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, at the end of Poydras. Partially burned around the edges, smothered in butter, parmesan, and garlic. Absolute perfection. Worth every penny and I will never make another trip to New Orleans without making this stop. At the end, after using a fork to scrape all the cooked on love, a puddle of oyster juice and melted butter goodness is there to soak your bread in. my mouth waters just thinkin about it

  4. 12/18/2011 / 9:07 PM

    RCS, very happy to discover your blog on a quiet Sunday night (both my NY teams lost today). Anyway, I also share your passion for the oyster, though razor clams are a close second in my book. Next time you’re in the city, New York that is, I can recommend two places for you…the John Dory Bar at the Ace Hotel just south of Midtown. Hell, might as well stay at the ace while you’re at it.

    The second location is a bit further, but oh so worth it. Take the L from Union Sq into Williamsburg and try Maison Premiere. You will find more than thirty oysters you’ve never tried before, promise, and a fine julep selection. While you’re at it, look me up and I’ll join you.

    Cheers!

  5. 01/12/2012 / 11:02 AM

    Ah yes, we love oysters too, especially on a cracker with horseradish and cocktail sauce. This is a great post… breakfast anyone? And big thanks for mentioning The Edisto, we sincerely appreciate it.

  6. 02/14/2012 / 11:27 AM

    Cellar Leather Has six Oyster Buckles available on capecodbelts.com or at 578 Main St in Downtown Hyannis on Cape Cod. For over 30 years offering Shell Buckles of Cape Cod. By far the best selection of Oyster Buckles Handmade on Cape Cod.

  7. 02/21/2012 / 3:33 PM

    Huge oyster fan. Love the painting at the top… do you know who the artist is?

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