raw-oysterThere’s no more exquisite and mysterious expression of the sea than the oyster. Served in its own little cup of sea essence, its raw delicacy dims the brilliance of any chef’s invention by comparison. Oysters scintillating sea flavors will always sing 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 Cindy Pawlcyn’s version of Oysters Rockefeller is truly inspired. She tops the boysterously beautiful bivalves with spinach, Asiago cheese, garlic, and cognac and then flash-broils them so they arrive all golden-browned and bubbling to your table.



What 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