Oysters: we just can't get enough it wasn't a fluke.
WE JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH IT WASN'T A FLUKE
In the same manner as wine, cheese, or so many other culinary delights we covet most, an oyster's flavor is not determined by the oyster itself but deftly shaped by the world around it. The venerated bivalve's identity conforms to the nuances of the sea it spends a lifetime filtering through its velvety slip of flesh. The oyster shelters itself in its brackish universe with a stalwart shell that snaps shut in defiance of the starfish, whelks, slipper limpets, sea otters and even raccoons who pine for the saline-kissed treasure within.
Milky beige to faintest gray, the oyster was once the most cultivated shellfish on the planet. The mussel now claims this title, but only by default: our insatiable appetite for the shellfish that Venus deemed a worthy silken footrest for her ethereal feet has resulted in severe oyster deficits the world over. As is frequently the case with beloved things, its absence has only made our fervid lust grow stronger.
Jonathan Swift famously said: "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." Who was that first courageous soul? One myth tells of a Neolithic man mistaking an oyster for a stone until the recalcitrant shell snapped closed on his finger. There was no return the instant he wiggled his appendage free and tasted the briny liquor clinging to it. Humanity was hooked ... and the oyster's fate was sealed.
A quirk of nature
Oysters emerge by the millions in a cloud of "spat"(similar to larvae) from their parent. The oyster has the ability to switch genders at will throughout its lifetime and, if necessity dictates, fertilize its own eggs. A spat's first priority is to find something to cling to. Once it attaches to its home base, the wild oyster will remain stationary throughout a lifetime that lasts up to eight years if absent of predators, pollution or natural disasters such as hurricanes or tidal waves.
As enticing as the wild oyster might be, nature has its quirks and one would certainly be that oysters do not necessarily reproduce effectively in the waters where they originate. This disparity necessitated an early need for aquaculture. In the oyster's case, human intervention began in Greece as early as the fourth century BC, with some evidence suggesting the practice began even earlier in China.
Oysters are cultivated either vertically or horizontally. In ancient times, the horizontal method employed shards of broken pottery, a practice recorded by Aristotle in his writings. Plastic tiles are the modern alternative to clay, just as rope has replaced branches as the traditional vertical cultivation method.
In France, the cultivated oyster lives out its days in three stages, each more luxurious than the next. Spat are first given something to attach to before being transferred after approximately eight months to "parks" or "basins" that provide increased protection from predators. They thrive in this elevage stage for several years until they are moved to the affinage or "finishing" stage to mature to one of the culinary world's most venerated oyster species.
Ostrea and Crassostrea are the primary oyster genera, and within each category thrive approximately 50 species of which there are hundreds of subspecies. Of the most important species are Asian oysters [C. angulata), a giant Pacific oyster that grows up to ten inches in length and is seldom consumed raw but instead is cooked, sun-dried or made into oyster sauce, its primary use. In the same geographic neighborhood are Australasian oysters (C. commercialis), some of the most coveted seafood in Australia.
Two other species In the same region are the Pinctada maxima and P. margaritifera. These species ore not considered true oysters but their meat is highly prized, flavorful and expensive. As they mature, their yellowish shells morph to exotic purplish-black and they nurture something even more valuable than meat. The more common name for these one-inch-long beauties that lie on their right side (as opposed to the standard left of other oysters) is the pearl oyster.
Another important species is the Portuguese oyster [C. angulata). Native to Portugal, Spain and Morocco, it's abundant in England and dominates the marketplace as the huitres creuses in France.
The considerable size of American oysters (C. virginica) flourishing off the Atlantic coast from New Brunswick to the Gulf of Mexico repulsed early explorers. Thackeray said that eating one of these up-to-seven-inch behemoths was like swallowing a baby. Much more diminutive, at less than one inch in length, is the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) off of America's Pacific coast.
The Olympia is a subspecies of the French Ostrea (O. edulis) or "flat oyster." The Ostrea is one of the most revered oysters with its round, elegantly contoured shell and exceptional flavor. They are referred to as "natives" in England and as "belons" in France. Those from Brittany are the most coveted of all Ostrea.
Losing the empty feeling
Cooks have devised clever uses for whatever oyster species is at their disposal for centuries. An ancient recipe from Apicius entitled Baian Casserole consisted of a decadent mixture of minced oysters, mushrooms and sea urchin tongues. A more contemporary shucked oyster recipe is Angels on Horseback, an appetizer consisting of broiled or baked bacon-sheathed oysters served on buttered toast, which is transformed to Devils on Horseback when spiked with red pepper and a splash of Tabasco[TM]. The shucked oyster's versatility has also made it a darling of stews, soups, fritters, dressings and even poultry stuffing.
Most hardcore oyster aficionados prefer to consume their bivalve freshly plucked from the sea, slurped directly off its pearly shell in all its briny, raw glory. Hemingway was so inspired by the experience that he penned one of his most famous passages in honor of it: "As I ate the oysters, with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."
Science provides at least a partial explanation to explain the compelling allure of raw oysters. Oysters and other shellfish store energy as amino acids rather than as fat. Over time, the amino acid molecules are converted to sugar phosphates that infuse the oyster in its raw form with a delicate sweetness. When the amino acids encounter heat, the coagulated protein traps some of these molecules, inhibiting the tongue from tasting them. Heat also encourages the release of the substance dimethyl sulfide, which intensifies an oyster's aroma when cooked. Warm milk and canned corn also contain the same compound, which explains why there ingredients pair so well with oysters.
With the invention of refrigeration, the rule that oysters should not be consumed during a month not containing an R is irrelevant for safety concerns but still applies from a culinary perspective. Oysters taste best in the fall and early winter because they spawn in warmer months-which makes them flabby and limp.
When purchasing oysters, avoid those with shells that are not lightly closed or do not snap shut when tapped. The smaller an oyster within its species, the more flavorful and tender it will be. Shucked oysters should be plump with the vigor of the sea. They should smell of the freshest ocean breeze and be stored in their own translucent liquor. Store them swimming in their liquor in the refrigerator for up to two days. Live oysters still in their shells should be stacked in the refrigerator, covered with a damp cloth, where they will keep for up to three days.
Bullying the sated stomach
The oyster has infatuated humans for millennia and was abundant in the ancient world. One of the most legendary oyster banks commenced in Scandinavia, wove its way along the Atlantic coast and turned into the Mediterranean to grace the fringes of Italy and southern France before precipitously ending at Greece. So abrupt was its finale that ancient cultures just south of Greece, such as the Assyrians and Babylonians, did not know of the shellfish that its neighbors to the north were feverishly gorging on. The only remnants of this abundant ribbon of crustacean nirvana are three gaunt islands in the Atlantic and two stubborn holdouts in the Mediterranean.
Romans, who introduced oyster cultivation to Britain in AD 407, discovered the "Breton" oyster over 2,000 years ago and devised en elaborate system of ice houses to transport it successfully along the Channel Canal from Britain to Rome. Some historians debate the successful transport of on oyster over such a long distance and believe instead that the oysters were packed in earthenware jars or barrels and preserved in brine before setting out on their long journey to the population of Rome, who consumed them with impassioned zeal.
The Roman Stoic Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger) said, "Oysters are not really food, but are relished to bully the sated stomach into further eating." It can be assumed then that Senaca's actual meals were gargantuan, since it is rumored that the philosopher consumed 1,200 oysters per week until he gave them up completely with his adoption of vegetarianism and asceticism.
They even grew on trees
The citizens of ancient Rome are not the only culture to blame for our current oyster deficit. The discovery of seven million bushels of oyster shells off the coast of Maine supports the theory that Native Americans on both coasts of America consumed oysters with relish. They preferred to boil them for five to seven hours before consumption in an early predecessor to oyster stew. American colonists in the 1600s adopted this method of preparation to word off hunger, although later Pilgrims deemed oysters only worthy as fodder for their farm animals. In 1610, colonists at Jamestown consumed massive amounts of oysters at the mouth of the James River to avoid starvation.
Dutch explorers Discovered such an abundance of oysters at Ellis Island that the landmass was originally named Oyster Island. Sir Walter Raleigh reported to Queen Elizabeth, much to her bemusement, that he saw oysters growing on trees. He didn't fabricate the story. Along the Carolina coasts and southward, C. frons oysters attach themselves to the roots of mangrove tees suspended above the water. The colloquial term for them is "coon oysters" because at low tide, raccoons gather at the tree bases to feast on the crustaceans.
Fortune's bad joke
History's famous (and sometimes infamous) personalities have surrendered to the oyster's spell. Casanova's consumption of 50 oysters each evening pales in comparison to Henry IV's orgy of 300 before dinner. Louis XIV maintained an entire "park" at Versailles to satisfy his fixation. A friend of the French gastronome Brillat-Savarin told him that he could eat oysters indefinitely and never get his fill. He stopped after 32 dozen oysters only because he was tired of waiting for dinner. The spectacle led Brillat-Savarin to write to another friend: "Oysters seem to be losing ground this year. It can't be more than a breathing spell, a bad joke of fortune." He was wrong. The universal oyster fixation had severely depleted the planet's oyster stocks.
Americans certainly contributed to the oyster shortage. By the 1840s, oyster shipments from the Chesapeake Bay to Philadelphia reached 4,000 tons. The oyster population of the Chesapeake was once so abundant it filtered the entire bay every three to four days, a process that today would take over one year to complete. It wasn't just the Chesapeake that suffered under the weight of human desire. In 1859, New Yorkers spent more on oysters than on butchered meat. The oyster population off the Virginia coast has been cut in half and in the Delaware Bay, 15 times as many oysters were harvested in 1880 as are today.
Lincoln's oyster royster
Oyster cellars flourished throughout America's coastal cities in the 18th and 19th centuries. These male-only establishments were initially rudimentary cellars where beer flowed freely and patrons gathered to discuss politics over a seemingly endless supply of oysters. A telltale red muslin balloon lit from within by a flickering candle enticed passersby to the cellar to gratify their oyster cravings.
Beer flowed as freely as the conversation and soon oyster cellars were primary gathering places for politicians and public officials. Even Abraham Lincoln hosted oyster roasts during his political campaign. A popular invitation tagline of he era was "Let us royster with the oyster in the shorter days and moister." By 1874, over 850 oyster establishments existed in New York City and hundreds of others in most coastal cities. With the expansion of the rail system and opening of the Erie Canal, oyster bars soon began sprouting up in inland cities, too.
By the 19th century, these rustic bars morphed into luxurious establishments glittering with gilded mirrors, ornate gaslights, crystal chandeliers and plush carpeting, as oyster cellars evolved into above ground oyster houses that flourished throughout the United States. In 1826, Boston's Union Oyster House, which is thought to be the country's oldest surviving restaurant, installed a horseshoe-shaped bar where patrons continue to gather today for a pint and plate of oysters on the half shell. Iconic recipes were developed in some of these houses, including the Hangtown Fry, an omelet from Placerville, California, a town famous for its Gold Rush-era hangings. The dish is still on the menu at Mae's Oyster House in San Francisco.
With the advent of more efficient and sophisticated aquaculture systems, the crisis has been somewhat alleviated, but it is doubtful that oyster stocks will ever be as abundant as they once were. Long gone are the days of the oyster cellar with its red muslin balloon beckoning us to come inside for on endless supply of oysters. Yet even without a flickering red light for enticement, its quite certain that our obsession with the ocean's most tantalizing gastronomic gift will never wane.
In 1882, Henry Villard financed construction of what is arguably one of New York City's most opulent buildings. Nearly 130 years later, the regal structure with its original mosaics, gilded ceilings and unrivaled elegance is the home of GILT Restaurant and Lounge at The New York Palace Hotel. The contemporary flourishes of French architect Patrick Jouin illuminate the sumptuous space that spills into a spacious elevated kitchen helmed by Philadelphia native Justin Bogle.
It wasn't the enviable ingredients Bogle incorporates into his Michelin two-star dishes at GILT or the dream of working each day in such a wondrous place that first lured the chef to the kitchen life: "I started cooking because I fell in love with the heat of the moment type of thing. I didn't really know what fine dining was as a kid. A lot of the ingredients that I cook with now I didn't have up until five or six years ago. First I fell in love with the action of cooking and the hours and the adrenaline. And then it became about the food and they just married at some point where I realized that what I do is fun and I'm working with amazing products. The kitchen is awesome. It's beautiful. I can't complain."
Before relocating to New York, Bogle attended The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia because: "I thought, 'Well, since I'm going to do this [become a chef], I should get a piece of paper that says so.'" While he's satisfied with his decision, it's not something he would recommend to everyone: "I don't necessarily hire based upon what school you went to. I'm definitely going to hire on experience more than anything. You could get a guy that never went to culinary school and could be a high school dropout, but has worked at the top restaurants in New York or even the world. I'm going to hire that guy over somebody that has a 4.0 GPA at The Culinary Institute of America. I want to know that you can cook. It says on paper that you butchered a beef tenderloin once, but how many times can you do it in a day. It's definitely more about experience."
After graduation, Bogle worked his way up to sous chef under the tutelage of Douglas Rodriguez at Stephen Starr's Alma de Cuba. What followed for Bogle upon his return from a month-long gastronomic extravaganza in Spain was a fortuitous meeting that would shift his career into hyperdrive: "I poked my head in the door of Striped Bass just looking for a line cook position. But Chris [Lee] was like, 'Nope, we only have a sous chef position.' So I stepped on up and took the sous chef position there." After working side by side for two years, Lee was offered the Executive Chef position of GILT in 2006 and said to Bogle, "We need to be up there in a week, are you ready to go?" Bogle reflects: "I always wanted to cook up here [New York], but just never had the balls to do it, but the whole thing with Chris just really panned out."
It certainly did. GILT earned two Michelin stars in 2008. Although Bogle appreciates the accolades, the chef suffered a brief confidence crisis following Lee's departure in 2008: "The pressure is always there. Chris left and then last year I was a nervous wreck. I probably didn't sleep this entire week before the Michelin guide came out. [The Michelin Guide New York was released the same week as Art Culinaire's visit to GILT.] There was a lot of pressure from outside and also internally. You've got to maintain it. So we did. Before this week there was that question of, 'Was it a fluke?' Chris has been gone a year. Two right off the bat in my first chef position, but this year we retained them again and finally I could say, Thank god. It wasn't a fluke.'"
Another thing Bogle doesn't think should be a fluke is a cook's decision to enter the profession: "Really understand what you're getting yourself into before you do it." He continues: "It's a big undertaking. It's your life. Understand that and once you understand that and you're still willing to dive in, you've got to immerse yourself in it. It's got to be everything about you. You've got to be at the markets talking to the farmers. You've got to be reading every single cookbook, whether you buy it or not or you're just sitting in [Manhattan's] Kitchen Arts and Letters for 13 hours a day just reading cookbooks, that's fine also. Dine out. Eat everything you see. I know it's hard on a cook's salary sometimes to eat at these restaurants but do as much as you can."
GILT's accolades reflect Bogle's commitment to doing as much as he can in his kitchen, but for the amiable chef, this doesn't equate to instilling fear in his charges: "It's a fun kitchen. For me, I didn't grow up cooking in that hardcore head-down screaming-all-the-time kind of kitchen. It's just not my style. It's nurturing. What's the point of yelling at somebody and throwing a pot at them? It doesn't get anything done. They may keep quiet I've seen it happen in the middle of service just goes to shit. What did they accomplish? Nothing."
There's something else the chef feels accomplishes nothing: "Trends in general kind of drive me nuts. It seems like a trend starts and it bleeds everywhere and people pick up on [it] and they're trying to do it and they don't really know how to do it or they're doing it half ass. Do what you do. Do what you love. Do what you know. Don't do it just because it's a trend." Bogle's accomplished career so early in the game illustrate the chef's embrace of his own philosophy.
Oyster with pumpernickel Crumble
For the beet dots: 1/3 cup water 1 ounce granulated sugar 2 ounces dextrose 1/4 cup glucose 1 teaspoon sorbet stabilizer 1 large red beet roasted, peeled and chopped 1/3 cup freshly squeezed beet juice 2 teaspoons Minus 8 wine vinegar * 1 teaspoon salt Liquid nitrogen, as needed For the horseradish dots: 7 ounces creme fraiche 2 1/2 ounces preserved white horseradish 1 teaspoon salt liquid nitrogen, as needed For the pumpernickel crumble: 3 tablespoons caraway seeds 2 teaspoons dill seed 2 ounces rye flour 1 ounce almond flour 1/2 ounce granulated sugar 1 ounce cocoa powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 ounces melted butter To serve: 4 Drunken Kiss oysters ** For the garnish: Finely ground toasted buckwheat Caviar Nasturtium leaves Dill * available from www.minus8vinegar.com or(877) 209-7634 ** available from www.georgeondsonsseofoodmarket.com or (302) 239-7204 For the beet dots: In saucepan, bring water; sugar, dextrose, glucose and stabilizer to a simmer. Set aside in ice water bath until chilled. In blender, puree sugar mixture, beet, beet juice, vinegar and salt five minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and transfer to squeeze bottle. In container, place liquid nitrogen. Squeeze 1/4-inch dots of beet mixture into liquid nitrogen. Using slotted spoon, remove dots from liquid nitrogen and set aside in freezer until frozen. For the horseradish dots: In bowl, place creme fraiche, horseradish and salt and whisk to combine. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and transfer to a squeeze bottle. In container, place liquid nitrogen. Squeeze 1/4-inch dots of horseradish mixture into liquid nitrogen. Using slotted spoon, remove dots from liquid nitrogen and set aside in freezer until frozen. For the pumpernickel crumble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In spice grinder, combine caraway and dill and blend until finely ground. In bowl, sift together rye and almond flours. Add sugar, cocoa powder, caraway mixture and salt and stir until well blended. Add melted butter and stir until incorporated. On Silpat[R]-lined sheet tray, spread mixture in an even layer. Bake 10 minutes. Set aside until cooled to room temperature Break into small pieces. To serve: Plate as shown. Garnish with toasted buckwheat, caviar, nasturtium leaf and dill.
Chablis 1 er Cru, "Foret"
Francois Raveneau Burgunay, France 2007
Oysters with Foie Gras Gelee and Green Apple Snow
For the foie gras consomme: 2 onions, peeled and halved 1 whole Grade A foie gras, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch slices 1 tablespoon green peppercorns 1/2 gallon water 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed in water, excess water squeezed out Salt to taste For the foie gras gelee: 2 cups foie gras consomme, from above 1/2 teaspoon Kelcogel[R] F * 1/4 teaspoon Gellan LT 100 * For the green apple snow: 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid To serve: 4 Chincoteague oysters ** For the garnish: Thinly sliced Burgundy truffles, cut into 1/4-inch discs 4 hazelnuts, blanched and grated on Microplane[R] Small celery leaves * available from www.le-sanctuaire.com or (415) 986-4216 ** available from www.franksseafood.com or (410) 799 5960 For the foie gras consomme; In cast-iron pan, place onions cut side down, and sear until surface is blackened. In saute pan, sear foie gras slices until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and reserve on paper towels. Add peppercorns to pan and saute two minutes. Add water, onions, carrot celery, reserved foie gras and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce by one-quarter, skimming fat as necessary throughout process. Strain through triple-cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. In nonreactive container, pour mixture, cover and set aside in freezer 12 hours. In cheesecloth-lined perforated-hole pan set over nonperforated hotel pan, place frozen consomme. Cover and set aside in refrigerator 24 hours. Reserve drained consomme and discord solids. For the foie gras gelee: In bowl of Thermomix[R], place reserved consomme and heat to 194 degrees Add Kelcogel[R] F and Gellan LT 100 and stir until dissolved. Skim surface. On Silpat[R]-lined sheet tray pour mixture into a thin layer and refrigerate until chilled and set. Using 3-inch ring mold, punch circles; discards scraps. For the green apple snow: In bowl, toss together apples and ascorbic acid and pass through juicer. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to Pacojet[R] container and set aside in freezer 12 hours. Process in Pacojet[R] machine according to manufacturers instructions and set aside in freezer until frozen, scraping with fork throughout process. To serve On chilled plate, arrange oyster and lop with fole grads gelee. Spoon green apple snow and garnish with truffles, grated hazelnuts and celery leaves.
Riesling "Rudesheimer Berg Rottland" Spatlase
Leitz Ehingau, Germany 2008
Oysters and Fried Bone Marrow with Charred Leek Puree
For the bone marrow: Four 2-inch marrow bones 8 ounces all-purpose flour 4 eggs, beaten 8 ounces panko For the dehydrated red onion: 1 red onion, peeled, quartered, thinly sliced and blanched For the charred leek puree: 3 leeks, halved lengthwise 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons glucose 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon BliS[R] sherry vinegar * 1/2 teaspoon squid ink 1/2 teaspoon Kelcogel[R] F * Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the grilled bread: 1 loaf sourdough bread Olive oil, as needed Salt to taste For the potato confit: 8 La Ratte fingerling potatoes 1/2 cup olive oil 2 sprigs thyme 1 clove garlic, peeled For the whipped malt vinegar: 1 teaspoon Granulated sugar 1/2 cup malt vinegar 1/2 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt Pinch xanthan gum 1 tablespoon Versawhip[R] *** To serve: 1 gallon canola oil 1 cup Champagne 12 Wellfleet oysters 1 ounce butter Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste For the garnish: Chive batons * available from www.blisgourmet com ** available from www.le sanctuaire.com or (415) 986 4216 *** available from www.willpowder.net or (866) 249-0400 For the bone marrow: Place marrow bones in ice water and refrigerate 24 hours, changing ice water twice. Remove marrow from bones and discard bones. Using 3/4 inch ring mold, cut marrow into cylinders and slice each in half. In bowl, place flour; in second bowl, place eggs; in third bowl, place panko. Dredge marrow in flour, then eggs, then panko, shaking between each stage to remove excess. Refrigerate until chilled. For the dehydrated red onion: Preheat dehydrator to 135 degrees. On dehydrator tray, arrange onion slices in an overlapping layer. Dehydrate until dry, about eight hours. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Break into desired shapes. For the charred leek puree: Preheat grill. In bowl, toss leeks with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill leeks, exterior-side down, until charred on the outside but still green on the inside. In saucepan, bring leeks, honey, glucose and water to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes. In bowl, whisk together vinegar and squid ink. In blender, puree leek mixture while adding vinegar mixture in a slow, steady stream. Blend five minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve. Weigh 10 ounces of puree and transfer to Thermomix[R] bowl. Heat to 194 degrees. Add Kelcogel[R] F and blend two minutes In container, pour mixture and refrigerate until chilled and set. In blender, puree mixture until smooth Strain through fine-mesh sieve and transfer to piping bag fitted with flat tip. Refrigerate until chilled. For the grilled bread: Wrap sourdough in plastic wrap and set aside in freezer until frozen. Preheat grill. On meat slicer, thinly cut into eight slices. Brush with olive oil and season with salt. Grill until golden brown and crisp. For the potato confit: In plastic bag, combine all ingredients and seal at highest setting in commercial vacuum sealing machine. In pot with thermal circulator, heat water to 185 degrees, add bag and cook 45 minutes Reserve at room temperature. For the whipped malt vinegar: In blender, combine sugar, vinegar, water, salt and xanthan gum. Puree two minutes, until smooth. Add Versawhip[R] and puree until smooth. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whip, on high speed whip mixture to stiff peaks. Transfer to piping bag fitted with smooth tip and reserve in refrigerator. To serve: In pot, heat oil to 350 degrees and fry marrow until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. In saucepan, place Champagne and reduce by half. Add oysters and cook one minute. Add butter and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat back of a wooden spoon. Drain oysters and season with salt and pepper. Remove potatoes from plastic bag and discord remaining ingredients Slice each potato in half and season with salt. On plate, pipe a leek puree ribbon. Plate as shown and garnish with chives.
Champagne "Extra Brut Blac de Noir" Ulysse Collin
Congy, France NV
Salt-Baked Oyster with Celery Root Puree
For the celery root puree: 1 ounce buffer 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon Ultratex 3 * Salt to taste For the sea urchin emulsion: 2 tablespoons soy oil 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1 ounce peeled and finely chopped ginger 1 cup Sercial Madeira 2 cups lobster stock 3/4 cup heavy cream 3 1/2 ounces sea urchin roe Pinch soy lecithin Salt to taste For the oysters: 13 egg whites 9 ounces all-purpose flour 3 pounds salt 1 pound Pelvetia Fastigiala seaweed 4 large James River oysters * available from www.willpowder.net (866) 249-0400 For the celery root puree: In frying pan, melt butter and saute shallot and garlic until shallot is translucent. Add celery root and saute one minute more. Reduce heat and cover with parchment. Cook until celery root is tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream and cook 20 minutes more. In blender, puree mixture while adding Ultratex 3 in a slow, steady stream. Blend five minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. For the sea urchin emulsion: In frying pan, heat oil and saute shallots, garlic and ginger until shallots are translucent. Add Madeira and cook until liquid is evaporated. Add lobster stock and reduce by one-quarter. Add cream and reduce by one-quarter. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. In blender, puree mixture with sea urchin until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and return to blender. Add lecithin and puree until smooth. Season with salt. For the oysters: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whip, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Line small cast-iron pan with seaweed. Top with 1-inch layer of salt mixture and place oyster in center. Fill half-dome mold the circumference of pan with salt mixture and turn onto oyster, pressing firmly to seal salt layers before removing mold. Repeat with remaining oysters. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sot aside five minutes. To serve: In saucepan, heat celery root puree until warmed through. In second saucepan, heat sea urchin emulsion until warmed through. Using handheld immersion blender, blend emulsion until frothy. Using oyster knife, gently crack open top of salt crust to expose oyster. Plate as shown.
Sancerre "Les Monts Damne"
Loire Valley, France 2009
Pork Neck with Oysters and Pears
For the brine: 3 Seckel pears, cored and coarsely chopped * 3 1/4 ounces granulated sugar 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 4 sprigs parsley 4 sprigs thyme 4 sprigs sage 2 bay leaves 1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds 1/2 ounce pink curing salt 6 ounces salt 1 gallon water For the pork: 1 1/2 pound pork neck, trimmed Brine, from above 1 tablespoon canola oil One 12-ounce bottle wheat beer Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the cabbage chips: 4 interior green cabbage leaves, blanched and cut into 8 circles using 2-inch ring mold 3 tablespoons canola oil For the chestnut custard: 8 ounces chestnuts, shelled and peeled 1 cup heavy cream 2 cups pear cider 1/2 teaspoon kappa carrageenan" 1/2 teaspoon iota carrageenan" Salt to taste For the poached pears: 1/2 ounce granulated sugar Zest of 1 lemon 2 pods star anise 2 cloves 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns 1 cup white wine 1/2 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 small Socket pears, peeled * For the mustard vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds 1 tablespoons black mustard seeds 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup mustard oil Salt to taste For the parsley root puree: 1 1/2 ounces butter 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 5 parsley roots, peeled and chopped 3/4 cup heavy cream Ultratex 3 *** Salt to taste For the oysters: 8 Kusshi oysters, shucked **** 4 green cabbage leaves, blanched and cut into eight 3 x 1/2-inch rectangles To serve: Pork cubes, from above Pork cube cooking liquid, from above For the garnish: Toasted ground chestnuts Mustard leaves * Also referred to as a "sugar pear" ** available from www.le-sanctuaire.com or (415) 986-4216 *** available from www.willpowder.net or (866) 249-0400 **** available from www.ilovebluesea.com or (415) 300-0940 For the brine: In pot, bring all ingredients to a simmer. Set aside in ice water both until chilled. For the pork: In nonreactive container, combine pork and brine. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Drain pork and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. In frying pan, heat oil and sear pork until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to container and refrigerate until chilled. In plastic bag, place pork and beer and seal at highest setting in commercial vacuum sealing machine. In pot with thermal circulator, heat water to 180 degrees, add bag and cook 12 hours. In hotel pan, place bag, top with second hotel pan and 10-pound weight. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Remove pork from bag and cut pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Reserve pork and cooking liquid separately. For the cabbage chips: Preheat oven to 180 degrees. On Silpat[R]-lined sheet pan, arrange cabbage circles and brush with oil. Bake until dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Pat with paper towels to remove excess oil and set aside until cooled to room temperature. For the chestnut custard: In plastic bag, place chestnuts, cream and cider and seal at highest setting in commercial vacuum sealing machine. In pot with thermal circulator, heat water to 185 degrees, place bag and cook one hour. In blender, puree mixture five minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. Set aside in ice water bath until chilled. Weigh out 17 2/3 ounces and puree until smooth while adding carrageenans. In saucepan, bring mixture to a simmer. Fill four 1-ounce sphere molds with mixture and refrigerate until set, about one hour. Remove from molds and refrigerate until chilled. For the poached pears: In saucepan, bring all ingredients except pears to a simmer. Add pears and cook until just tender. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Drain, reserving pears and cooking liquid separately. Cut pears in half lengthwise and remove core. Return to cooking liquid until service. For the mustard vinaigrette: In frying pan, toast mustard seeds until aromatic. Add vinegar and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Stir in oil and season with salt. For the parsley root puree: In frying pan, melt butter and saute shallot and garlic until shallot is translucent. Add parsley roots and saute one minute more. Reduce heat and cover with parchment. Cook until parsley roots ore tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream and cook 20 minutes more. In blender, puree mixture while adding Ultratex 3 in a slow, steady stream. Blend five minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. For the oysters: Wrap each oyster in a cabbage rectangle and refrigerate until chilled. To serve: Preheat steamer to 212 degrees. In plastic bag, place reserved pork cubes and cooking liquid and seal at highest salting in commercial vacuum sealing machine. In pot with thermal circulator, heat water to 175 degrees, add bag and cook 10 minutes. Remove from bag. In frying pan, heat pork mixture until warmed through, spooning cooking liquid over pork throughout process. In saucepan, warm parsley root puree. In steamer, arrange cabbage-wrapped oysters and steam two minutes. On plate, sprinkle ground chestnuts and top with chestnut custard. Plate as shown and garnish with mustard leaves.
Coteaux du Loir "Rouge-Gorge"
Bellivier Loire Valley, France 2008
Pine-Smoked Oysters with Matsutake Congee
For the consomme: Legs of 4 large chickens, "oysters" reserved for service 3 onions, peeled and halved 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped 4 ribs celery coarsely chopped 1 head garlic, halved 1 gallon water 3/4 ounce fresh yeast White soy sauce, as needed 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed in water, excess water squeezed out Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the matsutake stock: 1 tablespoon soy oil 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 8 matsutake mushrooms, quartered 1 1/2 quarts water 1 branch pine For the matsutake congee: 4 1/2 cups matsutake stock, from above 4 ounces jasmine rice Salt to taste For the huckleberry stock: 1 pound huckleberries 1 ounce granulated sugar 1 cup water For the huckleberry pearls: 1 cup huckleberry stock, from above 1/4 teaspoon agar agar powder 1/4 teaspoon locust bean gum * 1/2 gallon canola oil For the smoked oysters: 12 Kumamoto oysters ** Applewood chips, as needed Pine brandies, as needed To serve: Reserved chicken oysters, from above 1 ounce butter 1/2 cup chicken stock 1/4 ounce pine nuts Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the garnish: Matsutake slices Micro sea kress Petite mizuna * available from www.terraspice.com or (574) 586-2600 ** available from www.willapa-oysters.com or (877) 284-6625 For the consomme: Preheat convection oven to 400 degrees Season legs with salt and pepper, On wire rack-lined sheet pan, arrange legs skin side up and roast until cooked through and golden brown, about 45 minutes. In cast-iron pan, place onions, cut side down, and sear until surface is blackened, in pot, combine legs, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce by one-half, skimming fat as necessary throughout process. Strain through cheesecloth-lined fine mesh sieve. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Season with soy sauce. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. In nonreactive container, pour mixture, cover and set aside in freezer 12 hours In cheesecloth-lined perforated hotel pan set over nonperforated hotel pan, place frozen consomme. Cover and set aside in refrigerator 24 hours. Reserve drained consomme and discord solids. For the matsutake stock: In saucepan, heat oil and saute shallot and garlic until shallot is translucent. Add matsutakes and water and bring to a simmer. Cook 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add pine branch. Refrigerate for 12 hours Strain through cheesecloth lined fine-mesh sieve. For the matsutake congee: In pot, bring matsutake stock and rice to a simmer. Cook until thickened and liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Season with salt. For the huckleberry stock: In pot, bring all ingredients to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. For the huckleberry pearls: In saucepan, bring huckleberry stock, agaragar and locust bean gum to a simmer. Cook two minutes. Transfer to a squeeze bottle In bowl, place oil. Squeeze 1/4-inch pearls of huckleberry mixture into oil and set aside until set, about five minutes In bowl, place cold water. Using slotted spoon, gently remove pearls and transfer to cold water. Set aside one minute; gently remove using slotted spoon, transfer to nonreactive container and refrigerate until chilled. For the smoked oysters: In perforated hotel pan, arrange oysters and place in smoker. In hotel pan, place applewood chips and using torch, set on fire. Burn five minutes, top with pine branches and set in bottom of smoker. Smoke oysters five minutes. Refrigerate until chilled. To serve: Season chicken oysters with salt and pepper. In frying pan, melt butter until foaming. Add chicken oysters and saute until golden brown, spooning butter over chicken oysters throughout process. Add stock and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat back of a wooden spoon. In saucepan, bring consomme to a simmer. In second saucepan, place congee and pine nuts and cook until warmed through. Plate as shown. Garnish with matsutake slices, micro sea kress and petite mizuna.
Marcel Lapierre Burgundy, France 2009
THE GIFT OF KIMCHEE IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Scoff Boswell did not enroll at The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in New York until he was 30 years old. Perhaps the urgency of beginning a young man's game so late in life is why the chef has packed a lifetime into the years since graduating with honors in 1995. He says: "The day after I graduated I was on a plane to Paris to catch a train down to Provence where I continued my education with Pascal Morel at the one Michelin star restaurant L'Abbaye de Ste. Croix." He continues, "I figured I was 34 years old and I really needed to do something pretty aggressive. I didn't want to get stuck in the wrong place in the United States and wake up and be 45 and be nowhere. I was there for a year. That year was life changing. I learned there how to be a warrior in the kitchen."
The warrior traveled to the Michelin three-star restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Italy where he continued his aggressive career trajectory. Boswell says the six month experience was "hard and exhausting," but while there he worked alongside a man who would become a lifelong friend, Japanese Iron Chef[R] Masahiko Kobe. Kobe not only introduced Boswell to Tokyo, a city the chef has now traveled to over 20 times, but to another Iron Chef[R], Hiroyuki Sakai. Sakai not only invited Boswell to cook with him in his Tokyo-based restaurant, La Rochelle, but years later, would illuminate an impossibly dark chapter of Boswell's life.
Never one to let a challenge intimidate him, Boswell vowed to open a restaurant by the time he turned 40 and in 2001, just a few weeks shy of his 40th birthday, he says "With nothing but a dream and seven boxes containing 220 pounds of cookbooks, I came to New Orleans and opened Stella! Stella! and his other restaurant, Stanley, are named for characters from Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire and their connection to the theater seems fitting in the context of the drama each place has endured.
In August of 2005, Boswell says: "We decided we were going to do an aggressive renovation [of Stella!] and reopen two months later. Between a Monday through Friday we completely gutted the restaurant. There was nothing left. On Friday night I was thinking, 'Wow, how could there be anything better than this. It's amazing.' It was also my first Friday night off in ten years." The chef went home to relax from an exhausting week and "I turned the TV and here was this big, giant storm and I thought, 'God, you have to be kidding me.'"
God wasn't kidding. Hurricane Katrina was the worst natural disaster in United States history, devastating New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Boswell reflects: "We woke up on Sunday morning and there were 175-mile-per-hour winds, it was a category five and it was headed right at us. I thought, 'Oh God. How are we going to get through this?' You know that primitive feeling that animals have? That sense that danger is coming? I felt it for the first time in my life really. The low pressure was just sucking the air out of New Orleans. I decided we had to get out of there."
Boswell and his wife evacuated to Atlanta, but not before making a pit stop. "We stopped on the way in Birmingham because my mother lives there and I wanted to eat at my favorite Chinese restaurant that was owned by this older Korean lady. I wanted comfort food. Even in the midst of insanity, I was still asking her for her secret kimchee recipe." Much to Boswell's disappointment she said, '"No, I can't give if to you.'"
This was not the worst of Boswell's troubles. "All of my employees were calling me because it was pay day the day of the storm and they didn't have any money. It was a nightmare. I was watching everything that I worked for disappearing. I was losing my mind." Not knowing what else to do, Boswell decided to return to New Orleans to face the devastation. When he got there he says, "I was just staring into space not knowing what to do. My phone rings and if was my sous chef who was supposed to be working as a stagiaire in France. I said, 'Justin, where are you?' and he said, 'I'm on my way to New Orleans.' I said. "For what?' and he said, 'We're going to make hamburgers, right?' I thought, 'Holy shit, what a great sous chef.' He already knew the answer before I did. My mind was too full to find the right answer and he already had it."
With his hamburger mission formulated, Boswell heard through the grapevine that a grocery store had opened back up about 15 minutes from the city. His mother, Justin, Justin's girlfriend and Boswell piled into Boswell's truck and slowly, painfully made their way through the endless military police barricades to the rumored oasis. When they finally arrived Boswell says, "I remember standing there by the meat section and I looked over my shoulder and there it was, a huge display of beautiful red ground beef. I looked at them and said, 'Let's open tomorrow.' I saw the look of excitement on their faces and said, 'I'm going to get all of the meat, go and get all of the hamburger buns you can get. I sent my mom for lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and she comes back with fresh flowers. I looked at her confused and she said, 'We should have fresh flowers for the table' and that was the touch that everyone loved."
Stella!, which is adjacent to the Provincial Hotel in the French Quarter, was too damaged from the storm to function as a working restaurant. The team was quickly learning to make snap decisions and push through exhaustion, and overnight transformed a less damaged wing of the hotel into a functioning restaurant. They secured paper plates and charcoal and bartered with the military police for ice, water and gallons of diesel that powered their oven and air conditioning. They called the restaurant Stanley and it was the first to reopen in New Orleans following the storm. Stanley served nothing but cheeseburgers and chips for five dollars a plate. On the first day they had 82 customers. Within a few weeks, they were serving over 500 police, firemen, volunteers, journalists and cameraman from news stations around the world. The motley crew found air-conditioned respite from the 100 degree heat, and the fellowship of community that many corners of the ravaged city were sorely lacking. A Japanese film crew soon arrived to document the miracle of Stanley and its five-dollar hamburgers.
The surreal experience was made even stranger due to a lack of infrastructure needed to conduct everyday business. Boswell explains: "The money we were taking in for five-dollar cheeseburgers was unreal. I was wrapping these huge bundles of cash and stuffing them into my sofa because none of the banks were open. When the banks opened I brought in around $50,000 worth of cash." The revenue helped Boswell do something he thought for many months might never happen: "There was an article written about how Stanley saved Stella!" The chef pauses. "And it did."
Money was the tangible key that got Stella! back on her feet, but there was also something more spiritual that inspired Boswell to open his restaurant's doors again. "[Hiroyuki] Sakai called and said he wanted to do a dinner at Stella! We were in the middle of renovation and to prepare for his visit I pretty much became a 24-hour flight manager. It was crazy, adrenaline driven, psychotic. We transformed the restaurant in three days. It was pretty much a miracle what we did. We didn't have time to do any dry runs. The restaurant still smelled like wet paint and we were still hanging stuff on the back walls. Sakai seemed a little concerned, but that night we did our first dinner. We had a skeleton crew, the camera crew turned out to be his prep crew. We made it. It was three of the most magical days in my entire life."
Another magical thing to emerge from so much heartache, exhaustion and turmoil was Boswell's fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It didn't happen in New Orleans, but back at his favorite Chinese restaurant in Birmingham. On his way back from Atlanta to New Orleans, Boswell says, "I decided to go back to my favorite Chinese restaurant to eat my favorite meal again. I was about to leave and the Korean woman's son who would not give me her kimchee recipe stopped me and asked when I was leaving for New Orleans. I told him I was leaving tomorrow. He said, 'Someone gave my mother her kimchee recipe and she was waiting for the one person she would give the recipe to. Today she looked into your tired eyes and decided that you are the one." Boswell pauses, takes a deep breath and continues: "It still always brings me to tears. It shows you how great things can come out of tragedy. It was the only thing that kept me going."
Oysters on the Half Shell with Vodka Granitas and Caviars
For the cucumber-dill granita: 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely chopped 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 sprigs dill, finely chopped 2 cups rice vinegar 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup Grey Goose[R] vodka Salt, pepper and granulated sugar to taste For the pickled ginger granita: 4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 8 ounces pickled ginger (including juice) 2 cups rice vinegar 1/4 cup Grey Goose[R] vodka Salt, pepper and granulated sugar to taste For the citrus-mirliton granita: 1 miriliton, seeded and finely chopped 2 cups rice vinegar 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice 1/4 cup orange vodka Salt, pepper and granulated sugar to taste To serve: 12 king Fisher oysters For the garnish: American sturgeon caviar Wasabi fobiko caviar American paddlefish caviar Finely chopped chives Variegated crystal lettuce Liquid nitrogen For the cucumber dill granita: In saucepan, combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Strain through fine mesh sieve and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Transfer to nonreactive container. Set aside in freezer until frozen, scraping with fork throughout process to achieve granita consistency. For the pickled ginger granita: In saucepan, combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Transfer to nonreactive container. Set aside in freezer until frozen, scraping with fork throughout process to achieve granita consistency. For the citrus-mirliton granita: In saucepan, combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Transfer to nonreactive container. Set aside in freezer until frozen, scraping with fork throughout process to achieve granita consistency. To serve: Plate as shown. Garnish cucumber-dill granita with American sturgeon caviar. Garnish pickled ginger granita with wasabi tobiko. Garnish citrus-mirliton granita with American paddlefish caviar. Garnish plate with chives and variegated crystal lettuce. Spoon liquid nitrogen over top for service.
"Special Club," Blanc de Blanc, Brut
Margaine Champagne, France NV
Squab and Glazed Oysters with Corn bread
For the squab: 4 whole deboned squab breasts (2 halves still joined together) Transglutaminase, as needed Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the dressing: 1 ounce all-purpose flour 3 ounces cornmeal 1 1/2 ounces granulated sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 egg 1 cup nonfat milk 1/4 cup canola oil, plus 1/2 gallon for frying 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 rib celery, finely chopped 1 small red pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1 small green pepper, seeded and finely chopped 4 ounces panko Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the mustard greens: 3 ounces brown sugar 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup water, plus additional as needed 8 strips bacon, thickly julienned 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 bunch mustard greens, cleaned and sliced Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the oysters: 2 ounces cannellini beans, soaked and drained 1/2 cup squab demi-glace 1 quart veal stock 2 ounces butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 20 Kumamoto oysters, shucked * 1 sprig chervil, finely chopped 1 sprig parsley, finely chopped 1 sprig tarragon, finely chopped 2 chives, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste To serve: 1 ounce butter For the garnish: Cracked black peppercorns Maldon[R] salt Petite mustard greens Petite beet greens * available from www.willapa-oysters.com or (877) 284-6625 For the squab: Season breasts with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Sprinkle flesh side with transglutaminase and fold closed. On work surface, place plastic wrap, top with one breast set and roll into a tight cylinder. Repeat with remaining breasts. In pot with thermal circulator, heat water to 135 degrees and poach breasts one hour. Shock in ice water bath until chilled. Drain and refrigerate until service. For the dressing: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar and baking powder. In second bowl, whisk together egg, milk and oil. Add to flour mixture. Stir to combine and season with salt. Transfer to greased baking pan and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Break cornbread into small pieces. In frying pan, heat 1/4 cup oil and saute onion, celery one peppers until onion is translucent. Add cornbread and stir until incorporated. In bowl, place panko. Form dressing into 2 inch balls and dredge in panko. In heavy pot, heat remaining oil to 350 degrees and fry balls until crispy and golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper Reserve warm. For the mustard greens: In bowl, whisk together sugar, vinegar and 1/2 cup water until sugar dissolves. In frying pan, piece bacon and saute until golden brown and crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Ado onion to pan and saute until translucent. Add mustard greens and sugar mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook until mustard greens are tender, about 20 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent scorching. Stir in bacon and season with salt and pepper. Reserve warm. For the oysters: In saucepan, place beans, demi-glace and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender and sauce is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon Whisk in butter, one cube at a time, adding next cube only after previous one is incorporated. Add oysters and cook until heated through. Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper. To servo Remove plastic wrap from squab breasts. In frying pan, melt butter and saute breasts until warmed through and skin is crisp and golden brown Drain on paper towels Trim ends for a smooth finish. Plate as shown. Sprinkle with cracked peppercorns and Maldon[R] salt and garnish with petite mustard and beet greens.
"Infloresence," Blanc de Noir "Val Vilaine"
Cedric Bouchard Champagne, France NV
Bacon--Wrapped Oysters with Kimchee Condiments
For the kimchee: 3 salt-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped 2 ounces peeled and finely chopped ginger 4 bunches scallions, thinly sliced 10 cloves garlic, pooled and finely chopped 2 ounces granulated sugar 2 ounces kosher salt 1/4 cup fish sauce 4 ounces Korean hot red popper powder 1 1/2 cups water To serve: 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 bunch scallions, left whole 6 strips applewood-smoked bacon 6 Hama Hama[R] oysters, shucked and blanched ** 6 ounces seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes Kimchee liquid, from above fingerling potatoes, blanched, peeled and quartered For the garnish: Chive sprouts Thinly sliced scallions Petite shiso leaves Finely chopped chives Sriracha sauce * Also referred to us gochugaru and available in Asian markets ** available from www.hamahamaoysters.com or (888) 877-0844 For the kimchee: In bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed. Transfer to an airtight container, seal tightly and refrigerate for 72 hours. To serve: In saute pan, heal oil and fry scallions until just crisp. Drain on paper towels. Add bacon to oil and fry until halt-cooked and still pliable. Wrap each oyster with a bacon strip In bowl, toss together watermelon and 1/4 cup kimchee liquid until melon is well coated. Repeat process with potatoes and fried scallions. In individual ceramic barbecue, place wood chips of desired flavor and, using torch, set on fire until smoking. Top barbecue with grate and arrange 3 bacon-wrapped oysters on top. Garnish with chive sprouts. In three bowls, arrange watermelon, potatoes and scallions. Garnish watermelon with scallions and petite shiso leaves and potatoes with scallions and chives. Drizzle remaining scallions with sriracha.
Brut, Chigny-les Rose
J. Lassale Champagne, France NV
Oyster Chowder with Jerusalem Artichokes
For the chowder: 1/2 ounce butter 1/2 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped 8 fingerling potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped 8 ounces Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped 2 cups chicken stock 1 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons Herbsaint[R] 4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the vegetables: 2 cups chicken stock 8 fingerling potatoes, peeled and diced 4 blue potatoes, peeled and diced 4 ounces Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and diced Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the oysters: 2 cups olive oil 20 New Zealand Clevedon oysters, shucked * Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste For the garnish: Iberico ham Parsley Dill blossoms Olive oil * available from www.clevedonoysters.com or 64 (9) 292-8017 For the chowder: In saucepan, melt butter and saute onion until translucent. Add potatoes and artichokes and saute one minute. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook 25 minutes. In blender, puree artichoke mixture until smooth while adding cream in a slow, steady stream. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt and pepper. Add Herbsaint[R] and parsley and stir to combine. For the vegetables: In saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. Add potatoes and artichokes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. For the oysters: In saucepan, bring oil to a simmer. Add oysters and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. To serve: Plate as shown. Garnish with ham, parsley and dill blossoms. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bellavista, Franciacorta Lombardy, Italy NV
PULL-FACT: The oyster has long been credited with arousing libido. Unlike so many other foods with this reputation, there might be some truth to the oyster's ability to inspire carnal desire. Oysters contain the highest level of zinc found anywhere in nature, and are high in protein, iron, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids and low in calories and saturated fats. They also contain dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases desire. At a time when the diets of many of the world's populations were vitamin deficient, consumption of this nutritional powerhouse increased energy and in turn, fueled sex drives.
"If you don't love life you can't enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and Greezes. [They] shiver you for a split second."
- Eleanor Clark
SCOTT BOSWELL EXECUTIVE CHEF AND OWNER STELLA! AND STANLEY NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
JUSTIN BOGLE EXECUTIVE CHEF GILT NEW YORK, NEW YORK
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|Date:||Mar 22, 2011|
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