For the love of Oysters

24 Nov

They say oysters are an aphrodisiac. I agree more with 17th century satirist and poet Jonathan Swift, who eloquently said: “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

And, you kind of have to agree with him. Maybe that’s why they are supposed to get your heart racing. Because one sorry sod decided to eat one as a way to save his ransomed girlfriend from pirates and, by doing so, proved his worth and discovered a delicious new snack! Sexy indeed!

Ok, maybe not. But, I still can’t help but be a little put off by oysters when I see them, despite always loving them once I start tucking in.

So, it was with joy (and some tiny trepidation) that I headed over to Boisdale of Belgravia recently to sample its menu featuring the top six oysters in the UK – recently deemed so by an esteemed judging panel which slurped its way through many an entry to crown the winners. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it I suppose!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but was thrilled when I was presented with a plate featuring these beauties:

Mmm...tasty...

The five on show (the sixth oyster and champion of the rock category, the Dorset Oysters entry from Poole, could not attend my tasting) looked, well, not sumptuous, but very pretty. They were all: “Look at me, I’m a shiny oyster, in a shiny shell…ooo…how I radiate in this light.” Radiate they might, but not for long.

With a quick scoop of my spoon, I loaded a dollop of shallot vinegar on top and quickly sucked down a Loch Ryan. Then followed the Duchy of Cornwall, the Maldon, a Maldon Rock and a Portland, quicker than you can say: “Oh, don’t those look tasty.”

I was a big fan of the runner-up in the rock oyster category (the Maldon Rock) – it was meaty (without being too chewy) and had a delicious level of minerality. I can’t say I loved the Maldon, however – it was supplied by the same company and came third in the native oyster category, but it was a bit too much for me to handle. It being the largest, I found myself spending far to long with it swooshing about my mouth for my liking. But, maybe that’s right up some people’s streets.

By the end of the tasting, I could confidently say I highly enjoyed the oysters. Whether I was feeling any more romantic was hard to say – though I did rattle on lovingly about my steak when it came, so maybe there was a hint of the old love-stuff swirling in my brain? Or maybe it was just the wine talking…

The Boisdale Oyster festival HAS BEEN EXTENDED until April and is running at all of the company’s locations. They are offering the winning oysters at 50% off from 5-6pm Monday to Friday until the end of the fest. For more information, head here.

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