Have you ever disliked a food for your entire life? Have you ever kept trying to like it even though the mere smell of said food could make you gag? Did the mention of that food prompt sentimental memories to float into your brain?
That’s what has happened to me on numerous occasions. When I was a young child, I hated hated mushrooms. One night, while dining with family friends, the hostess served saute’d mushrooms. I fell in love with them on the spot, despite the fact that when I entered their house I hated them. I had no idea that I would have to eat ‘to be courteous to our friend’ those fungi. But eat them I did and have loved them ever since.
I also hated clams up to my 20’s when, after I kept trying to like clam chowder, I finally had a chowder that wouldn’t make me gag. I’m sure it’s because one of my brothers and I ended up cleaning over 200 digger clams when I was 12. My family and I had gone clam digging in Washington and we all limited out. I couldn’t get that stench off of my hands for days. Now I love clams. Boston clam chowder eaten like Bostonians eat it with tobacco sauce, is one of my favorite wintertime soups.
So it’s no surprise to me at least that the next food on my ‘hate, despise, detest’ list was oysters. My mom tried to trick us all into eating them the first time by telling us that we would probably find a pearl in one. Eagerly I helped myself to four oysters. I cut into the first one, seeing the green insides, when the smell hit my face like a Mac truck. Trying to put that fork-filled bite into my mouth was a supreme effort. The remainder of my oysters went into my napkin each time I wiped my mouth. Mom never knew. But good Lord…I hated oysters! When Mr. Fae would order them out at restaurants, I made sure that as soon as we got home, he brushed and gargled. P. U.
Last month, when he took me out for my birthday dinner, he ordered ½ dozen oysters for an appetizer. For himself only. He knew better than to suggest splitting it with me. Being the curious, if not determined gourmand that I am, I asked to try one, dipping it into the Mignonette sauce accompanying it.
“What is this sorcery?!!”
I didn’t taste or smell the usual oyster reek I normally did. Was it the sauce? Or…did my taste buds finally relent and grow up? I don’t know but I was now on a mission. I must duplicate that dish to find out if I really did change and now like, nay, love oysters?
When Mr. Fae got home, he opened up a special bottle of Darioush chardonnay, for he knew this was a special occasion in my mind. He helped shuck the oysters using screwdrivers, ice picks, and frosting spatulas. Of course we didn’t have an oyster knife in the house. I wouldn’t allow anything that contained the word oyster in it! As he opened them, I made the Champagne Mignonette sauce. This was the easy part of the dish. It was so very simple that only the ‘wait for 30 minutes to have flavors mingle’ was the hard part. This is such a great appetizer! It’s too bad that getting fresh oysters can be costly. But here’s the recipe if you care to get a wild hair going one weekend evening…
1 dozen oysters; what kind of oysters is up to you. These are komomata oysters. Next time, I will get Fanny Bay oysters from Canada. They carry them at Whole Foods for $1.29 a piece. Scrub shells very well. Shuck and leave oysters on individual shells. Pick over for any shell fragments. (I ran each one under cold water, not taking any chances.)
1 t flat leaf parsley
2 t champagne vinegar
1 ½ t finely chopped shallot
ground black pepper
pinch of sugar
1 ½ CUPS kosher or other coarse salt
½ T butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 small cluster of champagne grapes. Well, finding champagne grapes in Nevada was a bust, so I used red seedless grapes.
To make the mignonette:
Stir together the vinegar, shallot, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 30 minutes. Pretty hard, right?
Pre-heat broiler. Spread ¾ cup salt into an 8×10 baking dish. I used all the salt here instead of dividing the remaining onto individual plates. Arrange oysters on their shells in salt, then top each with a piece of butter.
Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until butter is melted and edges of oysters are beginning to curl. It took me 6 minutes for that to happen.
And we ate them right that at the counter!
~recipe courtesy of Epicurious