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EVENT: Oyster Frenzy

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Belon oysters from Maine. Photo courtesy J.P.
Shellfish.
 

What’s shucking in your town?

In ours, New York City, we’re in the middle of New York Oyster Week—actually two weeks of oyster-centric events, from September 11th through September 28th.

Once, in the waters surrounding us, oysters were so plentiful that anyone could enjoy as much as he chose. Alas, as with the sturgeon that once swam the Hudson River, so plentiful that free caviar was served at pubs (the salty caviar made people drink more beer), we over-fished our bounty by the mid-nineteenth century.

Now, if you crave it—oysters or caviar—you pay dearly (a little less dearly in the case of oysters versus caviar).

You can indulge in oyster excitement on Saturday, September 27th, when the 12th Annual Grand Central Oyster Frenzy takes place at The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal.

Admission is free to view:

  • A shucking competition among top professional oyster shuckers. Seven-time champion Luis “The Mexican Menace” Iglesius will try for yet another title.
  • The Slurp Off Competitive Eating Competition for the public, to see who can slurps 12 oysters in the fastest time.
  • The Beer Shucking competition, crowning the person who “shucks” a case of beer in fastest time—is sponsored by Blue Point Brewing Company.
  • Chef demonstrations of culinary wizardry.
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    There are also tastings, with oysters and beverages priced per item, including:

  • 16 Oyster Pairings! From 12 noon to 4 p.m., Oyster Frenzy will present 16 varieties of oysters—eight each from the East and West coasts—paired six championship wines. We can’t wait!
     
    For information call 1.212.490.6650 or email info@oysterbarnycom…or just show up!
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    OYSTER-WINE PAIRINGS & DUCK ISLAND OYSTERS

    We had never heard of Duck Island, a tiny spot on Long Island Sound (between Long Island, New York and Connecticut) that you can’t even see clearly on a map.

    But yesterday we were treated to Duck Island oysters, plus Kumamotos from Baja, California, along with 23 different wines under consideration for the Oyster Frenzy at the Oyster Bar.

    Our challenge was to select which of the wines went better with the very briny Kumamotos and which went better with the fruity, honeydew-note Duck Island oysters from Long Island Sound.

    Lest anyone think, “Oh boy, 23 different wines,” let us emphasize that this is very tough work! And without going into detail on the 23 wines (kudos to the sommeliers at the Oyster Bar for such an informative challenge), our philosophy is:

  • Go for a classic Chablis or Pinot Blanc with fruity oysters. You don’t want any fruit sweetness from the wine interfering with the subtle notes of the oyster.
  • For briny oysters, a touch of fruit in the wine can offset the salinity. In the blind taste test, we picked a Sauvignon Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay blend and a dry Riesling.
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    As for those Duck Island oysters, we couldn’t get enough of them. We’re heading back to The Oyster Bar this weekend for more!

     

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    Our favorite way to enjoy oysters—apart from naked, as absolutely plain oysters are called—is with salmon caviar. Photo courtesy The Sea Grill | NYC.

     
    HOW TO EAT OYSTERS

    When you’re eating fresh oysters on the half shell, the best way to eat them is naked. That’s how you’ll taste the different flavor notes in different varieties.

    Any addition—lemon juice, cocktail sauce, mignonette sauce, horseradish—just covers up those wonderful flavor notes.

    On the other hand, if the oyster is bland, you need those condiments to add flavor! But that should never be the case at a seafood restaurant or oyster bar.
     
    WHAT ABOUT OYSTER CRACKERS

    Oyster crackers are small, salted, soup crackers, typically hexagonal in shape and molded into two halves, roughy suggestive of an oyster shell. They were so-named because they were commonly served with oyster chowder, oyster stew and similar fish and seafood dishes.

    The best ones we’ve ever had—served at the Oyster Bar—are from Westminster Bakers. We can’t stop eating them!

     
    TYPES OF OYSTERS

    Check out the different types of oysters in our Oyster Glossary.

      




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