Breton Oyster shooters, or Marie's perfect cold remedy.
It was a happy hour deal: $3 for an oyster shooter. After a lifetime of eating raw oysters on a half shell, and thinking any other way to eat oysters was pretty much an heresy, I had become a bit more adventurous in my American life. Yes, you have to know that in France, eating oysters follows a strict ceremonial in the winter months: and it always unfolds the same way, oysters served raw on ice in a big round platter, slices of rye bread and salted butter, a mignonette of minced shallot and vinegar and a glass of sharp Muscadet. Any other way is unthinkable for, because it might cover the wonderful iodic taste of freshly shucked oysters (never rinse them!). As most things in France, it's a purist "rituel", but you do miss out on some very tasty recipes.
So, I had already tried fried oysters dipped in tartare sauce at Jack's in the Pike Place market in Seattle; barbecued oysters, harvested fresh from the beach, at my friend Paige's house in hood Canal; simmered in a soup in San Francisco's Chinatown... I remember vividly my first fried oyster: it was so big I had to bite in it instead of just slurping it, hot and crunchy in the outside, cold in the inside, with the tartness of the tartare sauce, it had been a revelation. Wow, us French had been missing out on a culinary delight...
Then, raw oysters drowned in vodka with hot sauce? Bring it on! No big deal.
Outside the temperature was hovering in the 20's, on this friday night at the Oyster Bar on Samsom street in Philadelphia. It was happy hour, the restaurant was packed, noisy, warm, welcoming. We sat at the marble bar, next to the pool of waiters shucking oysters by the dozen. They brought us the two tiny shot glasses, filled to the brim with vodka. It was spicy, icy cold and tasted faintly of the sea. In two minutes, my cold was gone. I was hooked.
We used some oysters from Cap Fréhel, but for this recipe, the provenance does not really matters...
Not really a recipe or a cocktail:
Cube some celery root and some celery stalk in a very fine julienne, add a freshly shucked oyster, cover with ice cold vodka. Add a dash of Tabasco.
The Tabasco beads and sinks in the cold Vodka, for a nice snapshoot...
Bottoms up - no sipping - Santé!