Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oysters on the Half Shell

The Winter Solstice has always been a time of feasting, excess and indulgence, and one of the most celebrated dishes associated with the Christmas season are oysters. According to folklore, oysters should only be eaten in months with 'R' in them — September, October, November etc. — which we now know is nonsense, and likely due to times when oysters were shipped without adequate refrigeration. These days we enjoy oysters all year round. They're one of the most nutritionally balanced foods and an excellent source of vitamins. So not not only are they delicious, they're good for you too — especially with a glass of champagne or chilled Muscadet! 

Buoyed by this notion of oysters being a health food, we hosted an oyster party recently with some friends who are fellow shucking enthusiasts. The only drawback is that oysters tend to be quite expensive, especially when you need to order a few dozen. That is until we discovered a hidden gem — Diana's Seafood at 2101 Lawrence Avenue East in Toronto. They have the best selection of seafood I've seen in the city, with a spectacular selection of oysters, from Kumamoto, Fanny Bay and Beausoleil to Lambertini and Pacific Rim, available per shell or bound in boxes of 3-dozen, 5-dozen, 10-dozen at prices that will make you weep. We purchased 6-dozen Malepeques for our Oyster-Fest and left with change from $30.00 and Diana's staff even put the boxes on ice for us so the little beauties would keep nicely chilled on their trip back downtown! 

Later that day, the oysters were shucked and served on the half shell with fresh grated horseradish and chilled Muscadet, and the four of us dined like Royalty! In fact, they were so delicious, and affordable, that we've decided to make it a monthly tradition. As Diana says...Eat fish, live longer. Eat oysters, love longer! Heck, some even say they're an aphrodisiac. Hello Fanny Bay!

Diana's Seafood
2101 Lawrence Avenue East
(between Warden & Birchmount)

Oysters with Mignonette Sauce
Sauce for 36 oysters

1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
white pepper to taste

Place wine and vinegar in saucepan and reduce to one-half. Turn off the heat and stir in the shallot and white pepper. Set aside to steep for at least 1 hour. Serve the sauce in small ramekins and let your guests spoon it on top of each chilled, raw oyster on the half shell. A wedge of lemon and fresh grated horseradish are also good accompaniments with raw oysters.