Saturday, March 31, 2007

Aw shucks...or: Hunting oysters in the city!

A call a few minutes ago from my sister, who I reckon is preparing paella for dinner as I type this...and yes, I will be joyously and gratefully partaking...that led to a discussion of where to get fresh oysters here in Portland put to mind a suggestion for all you PDX oyster aficionados who may be wondering where to get the freshest, briniest mouthwatering mollusks. I always go to one of two places. First, I always check Newman's Fish Company (503.227.2700) in Citymarket at 735 NW 21st Avenue. In the last year they have installed circulating water tanks so you know they care about the quality. They also usually have at least 4-6 different varieties available, plus clams and mussels if ya need 'em. Last weekend we picked up some tiny, creamylicious Kumamotos and twelve superb Fanny Bays. My second choice is the venerable Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, which has been around Portland seemingly forever. While their food also tends to taste like it has been around forever, it is a great source for fresh oysters, either to go or washed down with a drink in their cozy bar. Both Newman's and D&L are about the same price, usually $12-$15 a dozen give or take. A fresh oyster always reminds me of tasting the sea, and not in a spitting out mouthfuls of saltwater way, but in a "oh my god, I think I am tasting the freshest thing I possibly can" way.

So now that you know where, the only question is how. The guys at Newman's will be happy to tell you. It is so much easier than you'd think, and I promise if you're even marginally nimble with your digits, you won't stab yourself with proper precaution. My tool of choice is the OXO Good Grips Shucker. Not too scarily pointy, and works better than any other opener I've tried.

Lastly, but certainly not leastly (?) is what to drink. Many people consider Champagne a great match, and while I've done this numerous times, I have to say it isn't my favorite pairing. The oceany oyster tends to bring out steely flavor in the Champagne that i can live without. Give me a dry, racy Loire Valley sauvignon blanc, say a bottle of spectacular Sancerre, or the all-time French bistro classic, a super chilled bottle of minerally Muscadet, which are usually very reasonably priced and really are about the best thing you could drink with the o's. Lately I have also been pleasing my palate by pairing a dry, slightly peppery Gruner-Veltliner from Austria. w and I enjoyed this particularly pleasing combo with a couple of dozen delights we were wolfing down a few months ago on a trip to the magical Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
Shuck away'll be well rewarded!

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