It’s a weirdly persistent myth that you should only eat oysters in months that have an “R” – in other words, avoiding summer (May-August) when the weather is warmer and seafood is more prone to spoiling. But while might have been true before refrigeration, technology means an oyster can stay as cool as, well, a cucumber, from ocean to plate. Typically, an oyster needs very little to be fully enjoyed—perhaps a squeeze of lemon or a dash of Tabasco, but how about the tipple that accompanies it?
Sparkling wine can create a nice textured contrast, and a glass of Chablis is a time-honored tradition in France, but how about something that brinier, with a quality of the ocean in which oysters live? Try the 12-year old Old Pulteney, from the historic Scottish fishing own of Wick, once the largest herring port in Europe. The pairing is spot-on, with the oceanic tang of Old Pulteney, and its citrus notes, perfectly complimenting the salty-sweetness of oysters.
If you’re feeling ambitious, Oysters are also great fried. Dip them in beer batter to make a crispy fritter, or bread them with cornmeal and pile them on a baguette with lettuce and tomato for a traditional New Orleans po’boy. And wash down with a tumbler of Old Pulteney on ice. Wick may have lost its herring industry, but it has kept its whisky, so much the better for us.
Once you’ve tried this at home, here are three New York stalwarts to let the experts show you how:
1: Upholstery Store Food & Wine, 713 Washington Street, NYC. Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner casts magic on the half shell.
2: MP Taverna, 31-29 Ditmars Boulevard, Ditmas Park, Queens. This Greek taverna has a terrific happy hour, with oysters a dollar-a-piece.
3: Grand Central Oyster Bar, 89 E 42nd St, NYC. Because the classics never go out of fashion, and this is the king of them all.
Grand Central Oyster Bar