Sunday, December 03, 2006

Half Shell Happiness

Half Shell Happiness
©Devany Vickery-Davidson 2006

I am sitting at the dining room table with an early morning (4 am) cup of Indian Tea I brought from Chicago. I don’t add milk, but I do add Tea Masala. I savor the crisp flavors of ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, green cardamom, nutmeg and cloves with my tea.

Yesterday was our first Saturday since the big move to our new home in Northern California. While Chicago had a record snow fall yesterday, we enjoyed a bright sunny day and a walk through the Danville Farmer’s Market. Our area of California has an amazing network of farmer’s markets. Many are year-round markets and some are seasonal. The Danville Farmer’s Market at the bottom of the mountain we live on is year-round on Saturdays and there is an evening market in the warm weather on Thursdays. During previous visits to the area I had checked out the farmer’s markets because of course it is something I have a great passion for. You can see a complete list of the available markets that I will be exploring at I’ve already been to a couple of others, but I would like to feature each in a separate post, and fresh with the appropriate seasonality.

My little jaunt through the farmer’s market had a purpose other than foraging for whatever seasonal items were available. There is a “fish guy” there that sells wonderful fresh local fish and most Saturdays he has a few little crates of some very special oysters. I bought some last September when we had nothing but an oyster knife and a few plates here. They were so spectacular that I had been back to the market in search of them two other times only to find that they were not available. Yesterday, I was in luck! I got the last little crate of the La Maison Beausoleil Oysters. They are not local oysters, though they came from Seafood Suppliers, Inc. at Pier 33 in San Francisco (YES~ I am going to check them out directly one of these days). The nice thing about oysters (and other shellfish) is that our lovely government mandates certification on each package and because these are sold in an adorable little wooden crate of their own, I also got the certificate along with the oysters, so I know a little bit about them. They were harvested on November 29th and I bought them on December 2nd. They were farmed in Canada and the Harvest Location was NB-3F (that is still a mystery to me, but I am sure with a little digging I can figure out where in Canada that might be).

These little gems are truly what I would call “the perfect oyster” for eating on the half shell. As their name implies, Beausolei (beautiful sun) they are fresh and beautiful in their sunny taste. Their flavor was consistently sweet, briny and crisp. Size-wise these are small, but not the smallest oysters I have ever had. They are about 2-2.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, somewhat flat but with a nice enough bowl to nest the lovely meat in it’s liquor after opening. The texture was also perfect, just enough meaty chew to let you know that you were eating an oyster and not the sometimes slimy feel that some larger oysters can present. The size is also perfect in my estimation; the sweet morsel fits on a seafood fork and also sits nicely on the tongue, not too much for a single bite. Just enough liquor remains in the shell for a nice sip too. We ate them with some cocktail sauce and home made horseradish root. I had a few with just a drizzle of Meyer lemon as well. Our little crate had two dozen oysters and paired with a couple of chunks of San Francisco Sour Dough bread, it was all we needed for a light supper, though if I had bought two crates, I am sure we would have finished them too. The bottle of 2005 Plumpjack Sauvignon Blanc that accompanied our meal was perfect, though I love Champagne with oysters, it is not Wes’ beverage of choice.

What else did I buy at the farmer's market? An armload of tube roses (my house smells great!). Two bunches of golden baby beets, a bunch of French breakfast radishes, about 2 dozen beautiful roma tomatoes on the vine, 2 # of red shallots ( I use them like most cooks use onions), beautiful onion sprouts for sandwiches and salads, 2 big bags of herb salad mix & some beautiful little French pears from the Delta. 3/4 of a pound of Chantrelle mushrooms. Everything is organic.

Next post… Field Trip to Milpitas for Asian shopping wonders with Steve and Mary-Anne. Meanwhile, I DO have boxes to unpack!

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From the kitchen with a view of Mt. Diablo,
Devany Vickery-Davidson
Dinner Party Cooking School

Taste buds are neither conservative nor liberal, and, though it may be impossible to change the world, one should at least be able to change the menu. - Slow Food Revolution

1 comment:

foodiesleuth said...

I love oysters on the half-shell! These sound lovely....I think the little crate would have sold me too!!!