Most people get their raw oyster fix during happy hour. In Cambridge, some of the best spots are the Legal Sea Foods bar at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square or Rafiki Bistro, halfway between Harvard and Porter Square on Mass Ave. But, as we've been discovering recently, they're a real treat at home too.
The tough shells of these mollusks can be intimidating, especially if you have to shuck a dozen or two for guests. But opening them only takes a kitchen towel, an oyster knife, and a little practice.
This video is a great primer on everything from checking for freshness to shucking.
We'll pick up where the video leaves off and with our specialty. Serving. We picked up half a dozen from our local fishmonger, The Fishmonger in Huron Village, where we could be confident what we were buying was fresh. Obviously, six oysters can't serve a party, but it does make a nice snack for 2-3 or small meal for one. Below are oysters on the half shell (served) two ways, both with our favorite accoutrement: cocktail sauce that's heavy on the horseradish. You might find this in the back of your refrigerator, but if not, it's actually pretty easy to make yourself.
Jars Ceramics Tima Aperitif Dishes
With Chilewich Basketweave placemats we created a black & white checkered mat to match the glaze of our Jars Ceramics Tima serving dishes. Filled with a bed of ice, the extra large Tima aperitif dish made a stylish platter for five medium-sized oysters. A matching small Tima dish served as a small boat for cocktail sauce. A wedge of lemon to be squeezed onto the oysters brought a little color into this geometric, black & white setting.
The Pillivuyt Oyster Plate
The Pillivuyt oyster plate is a beautifully sculpted dish from the classic French porcelain maker Pillivuyt. Six oyster-shaped indentations hold oysters on the half shell without spilling the liquor--the briney juice inside an oyster that connoisseurs savor. Being a naturally varied and individualistic species, oysters don't fit precisely into the impressions Pillivuyt provides. But unless you're dealing with some monster oysters so large you might suspect the oyster beds they were harvested from from being too close to a nuclear power plant, they fit well enough. A Pillivuyt Plisse plate served as a charger. The center of the oyster plate has a small well, just big enough for a Pillivuyt sauce shell filled with cocktail sauce.