There’s no more exquisite fruit of the sea than the oyster. Served in its own little cup of sea essence, its raw delicacy outshines the brilliance of any chef’s invention. Oysters scintillate best when paired with wines that also boast a bright mineral-tinged edge. Good choices include a steely Sancerre, flinty cold-climate Chardonnay, or sparkling wine produced in the méthode traditionnelle (fermented in the bottle). Other good oyster-pairings include a  dry Rosé or even a Belgian-style Saison (farmhouse-style) beer with a spicy-citrusy character.

The oyster’s complex salinity is nicely highlighted by the acidity in certain sauces. The most famous of which is the mignonette. This classic oyster condiment is simply a combination of minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar.

For great Bay Area cooked oysters, seek out the Oysters Bingo served at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. Chef Pawlcyn’s riff on Oysters Rockefeller is truly inspired, topping the boysterously beautiful bivalves with spinach, asiago cheese, garlic, and cognac and then broiling them ever-so-briefly so they arrive all golden-browned and bubbling to your table.

raw-oysterWhat can awaken less consciousness
of warm affection than an oyster?
Who would press an oyster to his heart,
or pat it, and want to kiss it?
Yet nothing short of its complete absorption
into our own being can in the least satisfy.
No merely superficial temporary contact
of exterior form to exterior form will serve.
The embrace must be consummate…
then we become made one with what we love
-not heart to heart, but protoplasm to protoplasm,
and this is far more to the purpose.
-Samuel Butler