#317, Eat Oysters
I called my friend Nancy and asked if she’d like to join me for a lunch of oysters. I have been drooling over the Instagram photos of the Hungry Cat’s happy-hour oyster selections for a month now. They’re not open for lunch so we decided to go instead to Santa Monica Seafood Market & Cafe.
Known for having the best quality and selection of seafood in Los Angeles, I didn’t worry a bit about eating raw shellfish here. Nancy was sick on raw oysters once, and the experience was enough to put her off them forever.
They have an oyster bar, but we opted for a table in the cafe.
But first we checked out the oysters in the case and read the board to see what they were offering.
I opted to get a half dozen oysters, one of each kind, so that I could discover what I liked best. I’ve only eaten raw oysters a few times in my life, so I was excited to try them. I was fascinated by this piece in Lucky Peach which is a great oyster primer, and tells you most everything you need to know. The author of the article, Rowan Jacobsen, has a book due out later this year called The Essential Oyster, a full-color guide to the world’s best bivalves. Look for it in October.
When my oysters arrived, they looked like this.
Fabulous right? They were served with a container of mignonette sauce and another with cocktail sauce with a dab of horseradish.
From the bottom left, working clockwise, these were the oysters I tried: Kumamoto from California, Kushi from British Columbia, Chelsea Gem from Washington, Beausoleil from New Brunswick, Fanny Bay from British Columbia, and Fat Baby from Long Island, New York.
I worked slowly through the platter, rolling oysters on my tongue and slurping the salty brine. Nancy asked me to describe the oysters. I knew better than to offer the word hated by so many long time food professionals like her, but all I could think was… delicious.
I racked my brain and shook my head. I thought, not for the first time, how Jonathan Gold is King, and how words are his loyal subjects whom he easily beckons from every corner of his realm. They come quickly, bowing and scraping, and prostrating themselves willingly before him.
All I could muster was this thought… my favorite of the oysters, the Fanny Bay, was like sitting with my first boyfriend on a ski lift, snowflakes falling in our hair, where he steals a sweet kiss with a salty tongue, and we are enveloped in mist.
The delight of this oyster selection was not only it’s freshness, much like the boyfriend’s, but also the decadent idea that I was tasting different oceans and places and traveling by palate to their rocky shores.
I could almost feel the sea spray on my face.
After our lunch, we walked next door to Huckleberry. There were too many good things to choose from.
We opted for cookies and coffee and chatted our faces off.
We happily munched our sweets and refilled our cups, and I thought some people and places are totally worth the gridlock.
309 days to go!