I remember envoking my father’s wrath as a small child when I made repeated gagging sounds at the sight of him consuming a plate full of oysters. I think he employed the phrase “Young lady” as he explained that my facial expressions (coupled with the distasteful noises I was making) were inhibiting him from fully enjoying his meal. I think he ended with, “Knock it off,” and one of those looks (the one that silently lets you know that you are being protected from a full assault of his irritation only because you are in public, so you better tread lightly).
In my early twenties, I tried to like oysters, but usually found that I could only consume them after slathering them in cocktail sauce. I don’t know when the change came about, exactly, but one day it happened: ice-cold oysters with a squeeze of lemon juice, maybe an herb mignonette sprinkled lightly on top or freshly grated horseradish, with nothing else to hide the flavor, were suddenly more than palatable. They were delicious.
Last week, I was in NYC for the annual Frederick Wildman Portfolio Wine Tasting (once I get through my notes, I’ll be posting on that . . . soon) and had the chance to have oysters at both Mermaid Oyster Bar (the one on MacDougal Street) and at Eataly. Both times I paired them with a bubbly. A light, crisp (and very cold) beer also works well. Either way, it was a treat to kick back while someone else did the shucking. When we serve them at barVino, my brother insists that I shuck my own. Which is dangerous (I’m a born klutz) and takes entirely too long. There’s a reason I work the front of the house.