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Ode to oysters and eggs.

Local shellfish, spinach, and bacon fill classic omelets at southern Washington's Shelburne Inn

For the grand breakfasts served at the Victorian-era Shelburne Inn, local ingredients are the byword. And here in Seaview, on southern Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, you can't get more local than oysters.

Oysters built the area's first towns during California's Gold Rush, when new wealth to the south fueled an appetite for Washington's native bivalves. Today, the peninsula's pristine waters nurture some of the country's most productive beds of cultured oysters.

David Campiche and Laurie Anderson, co-owners of the Shelburne, serve oysters dozens of ways, but their Hangtown Fry, prepared as either an omelet or a frittata, marks the area's historical connection with California's goldfields.

The story goes that a Hangtown Fry, a scramble of eggs, oysters, and bacon, was created in Placerville, California (then called Hangtown because of three famous hangings). Campiche's version has it that the miners who struck gold simply ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, the Hangtown Fry. In Old San Francisco, Doris Muscatine traces the fry to a condemned prisoner's last request, one whose rare ingredients would delay the proceedings.

Whatever the origin, this version of the Shelburne's recipe makes a simple but extravagant meal. For information on staying at the inn (rooms cost $99 to $169 per night), call (800) 466-1896.

Shelburne Inn's Hangtown Omelets

Prep and cook time: About 35 minutes

Notes: To sliver an onion, halve lengthwise, then cut into thin lengthwise slices.

Makes: 2 servings

6 large eggs

1/4 cup half-and-half or whipping cream

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 cup silvered red onion

1 jar (10 oz.) shucked small raw Pacific oysters

1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded spinach leaves (1/4- by 3-in. strips)

Salt and pepper

1. In a bowl, beat eggs and half-and-half to blend; set aside. In an 8- to 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, stir bacon often until brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon out all but 1 tablespoon fat and set aside. Add onion to pan and stir often until limp and brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove onion and bacon from pan and set aside. Measure reserved bacon fat; if needed, add salad oil to equal 1 tablespoon.

2. Meanwhile, in a 1- to 2-quart pan over high heat, bring oysters and their liquid to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let stand until oysters' edges curl, 2 to 3 minutes. Lift out the oysters with a slotted spoon (discard liquid), add to onion-bacon mixture, and keep warm.

3. Return half of bacon fat to frying pan over medium heat. Add half of egg mixture. As eggs begin to set, lift edges from pan bottom to let uncooked egg flow underneath. When eggs no longer flow when pan is tipped, scatter with half the parmesan; then on half of omelet, scatter half of oyster mixture and half of spinach leaves.

4. Tip pan; with a spatula, fold uncovered half of omelet over filling. Hold pan over a plate and shake omelet onto dish. Keep warm while making second omelet. Season with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 696 cal., 59% (414 cal.) from fat; 49 g protein; 46 g fat (18 g sat.); 20 g (2.4 g fiber); 1,114 mg sodium; 766 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:oyster omelet cooking
Author:Johnson, Elaine
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1997
Words:556
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