There’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 can dim the brilliance of any chef’s invention by comparison.

An oyster’s 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, a flinty cold-climate Chardonnay, or a 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.

Broiled oysters are also delectable. Chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s version of Oysters Rockefeller called Oysters Bingo are served at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. Here the beautiful bivalves are topped with spinach, Asiago cheese, garlic, and cognac and then briefly flash-broiled in order to arrive at your table golden browned and seething in cheesy good spirits.


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