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Celebrating Oysters

The biggest faux-pas is not chewing the oyster: “It brings out the sweetness and brininess, and of course the umami. You’ll miss out on a lot of that if you’re swallowing them whole. Another mistake is pouring out the juice – or the liquor – from the oyster: “The liquor gives you a great indication of what’s to come. So take a sip, process the taste.

Different oysters have different flavours and textures

A Carlingford oyster (a sweet meaty oyster from the Irish coast), through to the Lindisfarne (a seaweed munching little guy with the fresh taste of cucumber), and on to the Gillardeau (The ‘Rolls-Royce’ of oysters with a rich buttery texture.)

An oyster’s origin has a big effect on the taste, and it seems quite obvious – river oysters feed from water that’s run off fields and farmland, giving it an earthy minerality.

Those that are found out at sea, meanwhile, have less of that minerality, with a sharper, brinier taste.

Oysters from Morecambe Bay

Some of the tastiest oysters come from less-than-glamorous locations – Morecambe Bay may be a faded tourist resort, but the pristine shellfish water that laps its salt marshes make for delicious oysters.

And while some see oysters as a luxury food that should be served up with a glass of bubbles, Some people prefer a crisp coastal white wine, or a glass of stout, like Guinness. It’s a pairing which goes back almost 200 years.

Enjoy them any way you want – they’re on our menu most days.

Joy of Oysters

Eating raw oysters is a uniquely invigorating experience; a bit like battery-licking for grown-ups. It seems that we can taste the elements they contain: zinc, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium.

Served as a starter on our À la carte Menu OYSTERS on  ice with shallots, red wine vinegar and sweet chilli dip.

And no other food conjures up a physical feature of the Earth as strongly as a bracing, salty, tangy oyster: the essence of the sea in edible form.

Oysters should be stored at a low temperature and smell briny-fresh. The shells should be clean, bright, tightly-closed and unbroken.

Size, shape and flavour vary considerably. The best from British and Irish waters are considered to be those from Colchester, Whitstable, the Helford and Galway. Natives are pricier and generally thought of as the superior oyster. Pacific or rock oysters tend to have a frillier shell and smaller, milder meat.

Shells found on archaeological sites indicate that people were eating oysters 6,000 years ago (how did they open them without an oyster knife?).

For much of recorded history they have been regarded a simple form of sustenance, punctuated by occasional periods in which they reached the status of delicacy. In Britain they shifted from stomach-filler to luxury food with the arrival of the Romans, largely disappeared from the diet after they left, before returning to favour sometime around the eight century.

By Victorian times, pickled oysters were a common food of the poor in London (and in the American South in the early twentieth century the Po-Boy, a type of sandwich featuring oysters in a baguette, fuelled blue collar workers). The era of cheap oysters came to an end quite abruptly after oyster beds became exhausted due to overfishing and pollution.