I love oysters, and I love bubbles. I would say they are guilty pleasures, but that would not be the truth as I tend to enjoy more often than during the holidays only. The two are the perfect together and I feel they should be enjoyed throughout the season. With the holidays coming up, it is the perfect time to indulge even more. The following three recipes are some of my favorite ways to enjoy oysters, and have been inspired by oysters enjoyed during our travels. This holiday season, I thought it would be fun to set-up an at home Oyster Bar to share the love of two of my favorite foods.
Let’s talk bubbles before diving in on how to set-up an at home oyster bar; shall we? All year we have been enjoying Francis Ford Coppola Wines, and with the holidays here, the winery surprised us with their sparkling wine Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Upon the first sip from our first bottle popped, we were more than pleasantly surprised. Not overly sweet or dry which tends to be the case with many sparkling domestic wines. This sparkling wine is very clean tasting, and soft with a floral aroma similar to the last of spring jasmine blooming. The flavors are pleasant and not overwhelming, instead, crisp like a fallen pear with a hint of Meyer lemon. The perfect sparkling wine to pair with oysters or even a cheese plate filled with creamy triple creams or an assortment of goat cheese. We enjoyed a couple bottles, not at the same time, before deciding oysters were going to be the companion to our holiday soiree.
Besides being a lovely bottle of sparkling wine to enjoy, the packaging is beautiful, and I kind of give in to great packaging. I loved the delicate cream label on each bottle and the crisp pink wrapping; makes the perfect gift for someone special. This sparkling wine is also packaged as minis in pretty pink cans in packages of four, complete with straws; making for a whimsical addition to any party or even a picnic.
It is not hard to find oysters at local markets as well as online; many farms will now deliver. If you have a favorite, research them and reach out to the farm. You never know. I am going to share some of our favorites, and more importantly how to prepare and serve. We tend to enjoy Pacifics as they are easy to find in our area. They tend to be smaller and a bit sweeter. Kumamotos are a favorite and go well with the Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Typically oysters from the Pacific are named after the farm that raised them such as Hog Island Oyster Company or Tomales Bay. Another favorite is from the East Coast, the Island Creek Oysters from the Island Creek Farm. They are a tad bigger in size than Pacific Oysters and they are brinier with a bit of a bite that ends sweetly; again, great with this bottle of sparkling wine. When we order oysters whether we are bringing them home or enjoying out, we usually order some favorites and then mix in some new-to-us ones. Makes it more fun, and we never know when we will meet a new oyster love!
Oysters are actually exposed to air a few times a month while they are growing due to tides coming in and out. If oysters are stored properly, in the winter, they will keep for two weeks and in the summer no more than a week. They do need to be kept cool and dry in the refrigerator. This was a surprise to me when my fish monger told me I was doing it all wrong. Keep them in their netted bag inside a bowl with a damp cloth over the top. Do not put ice under or over them. The ice will melt and they will die. Once you shuck them it is okay to place on top of a bed of ice for up to an hour; they never last that long with us!
Setting up the Oyster Bar:
I like to have all of my toppings for our oyster feast set up before shucking the oysters. Then I set the table with plates, napkins, an assortment of champagne glasses and I chill the sparkling wine. The last step is to shuck the oysters, plate them, and then serve. That being said it is good to assign the shucking to someone else while you are setting up the table and doing the plating.
We use a wood shucking board and a stainless steel knife, as it makes it easier to hold onto the oyster and slip the knife in. Here is a video showing how to do it without the wooden block, the idea is the same, just slip the oyster into the holder and use the knife.
With a good platter of very fresh oysters, the toppings can be simple. Typically, I serve oysters with freshly grated horseradish and slices of Meyer Lemon. No cocktail sauce for us, but if you enjoy it, then do add to the presentation. I also like to serve a couple fun options such as this recipe for Champagne-Vinegar Mignonette and the Sparkling Sea Foam. Adding a slightly cooked version is a nice touch for those who may enjoy their oysters, not on the completely raw side, and this Aleppo Butter topping is perfect.
The recipe for Sparkling Sea Foam came about after a meal where we were served many courses that included a foamy topping. Since I am not a fan of molecular gastronomy, I decided to play around with other ways of creating a foamy topping. After reading about powdered meringue, I decided to give it a whirl. The premise seemed easy; a little meringue powder and liquid, then mixing together using a hand mixer. It worked perfectly with water, so I decided to try with sparkling wine. Voila! A slightly sweet foam topping made with the Sofia Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine that goes really well with the Island Creek oysters! I am thinking the sparkling Sofia Rose or Red would make for a beautiful foam topping, too.
The recipe for the Broiled Aleppo Pepper Buttered Oysters came about after enjoying platters of Hog Island Oysters that were lightly roasted in a chorizo butter. Sublime, and again a great companion for this sparkling wine. The Aleppo pepper is moderately spicy with a slightly sweet undertone and when mixed with a high quality salted butter and oysters it is WOW. Only roast until the butter is melted and the oysters are slightly warm.
Lastly, I always like to serve a simple mignonette on my oyster bar. Clean and refreshing, and perfect to mix with briny oysters. It is a classic that never goes out of style!
We hope you enjoy many oysters and the Sofia Blanc de Blancs this holiday season – both would be the perfect beginning to your Christmas dinner or ringing in the New Year at midnight! We will be doing both!
Thank you for joining us at the Chez Us table; we love having you here.
Have you made this recipe? Please share what recipes you are enjoying from our site with us – we’d love to see them. You can use the hashtag #chezuseats and then we can pull a chair up to your virtual table!
Recipe: Sparkling Sea Foam
- 2 tablespoons powdered egg meringue
- 1/2 cup Sofia Blanc de Blancs
- 1 dozen oysters, shuck, some of the nectar poured off
- Place the powdered egg meringue into a small mixing pour and pour in the Sofia Blanc de Blancs.
- Using a hand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk until foamy. If I am not going to serve right away I whisk until a little firmer, but not peaked, as it will fall a bit. Then stir just before serving.
- Place the oysters onto a serving platter filled with ice.
- Place a dollop of the foam onto each oyster, then a small amount of the champagne vinegar mignonette.
Recipe: Broiled Aleppo Pepper Buttered Oysters
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, high quality, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon crushed Aleppo Pepper
- 1 dozen oysters, shucked and nectar poured off
- Mix the butter and pepper together. Set aside.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Place the oysters on a baking sheet.
- Top each with a small amount of the butter/pepper mixture.
- Place in the oven and cook for 1 – 1/2 minutes; just until the bubble is melted.
Recipe: Champagne Vinegar Mignonette
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, I use meyer lemons
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 1 dozen oysters, shucked and placed on ice
- Combine the vinegar, lemon juice and shallot in a small jar. Shake. Set aside.
- Place the oysters onto a serving platter filled with ice.
- Drizzle a small amount of the mignonette over each oyster.
**disclaimer: This post is brought to you in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola Winery, for which we are being compensated for the work done with them. All content, photos and opinions are of our own, and were not influenced by other parties. Thank you for supporting sponsors that allow us to create new and exciting content like this for Chez Us.