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Oysters on the Half Shell with Apple Mignonnette

Long live live food!

Pair oysters, long considered an aphrodisiac, with a dessert of chocolate for a romantic feast. Or, for a playful party, invite over a few fellow oyster lovers — only the most passionate. Shuck, giggle and slurp oysters from their shells. (And in the winter nestle them in a bowl of snow.)

Serve oysters with a choice of toppings — lemon wedges (my favorite), cocktail sauce  (ketchup, horseradish and lemon juice) and a mignonette, which is a vinegar-shallot combo. Here, I drummed up a locavore’s apple mignonette, a New England riff on the classic. Be sure to accompany it all plenty of sliced baguettes with sweet butter and your favorite bubbly, such as a regional sparkling  hard cider. A good time guaranteed.  This recipe is for at least 2 dozen oysters, if you use the mignonette on each. (We each easily ate 12 each.)

1/4 cup apple cider (not too sweet)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons finely diced apple (I used Northern Spy)
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
Pinches ground black pepper, or more to taste (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons chopped parsley, optional
2 dozen of your favorite oysters or more, well rinsed

1. Mix all the ingredients but the oysters in a small bowl.

2. Shuck the oysters. It’s not difficult, but be patient. Think of the shucking as part of the fun. Set them in a bowl of snow if you have it on hand, crushed ice if you don’t or eat as you shuck.

3. Top each with a little of the mignonnette or another topping or eat straight. Eat immediately.

Where did I find my oysters?
We’re lucky to have some of the best oysters in the world in the Northeast, and you can pick them up almost anywhere.  I especially favor those from Wellfleet, which are as local as I can get in the landlocked Berkshires, but it’s fun to taste varieties and compare.  For my party, I ordered  Wellfleets, but they weren’t around, and so we shucked fabulous Maine Beausoleil, Winter Points, Norumbega , as well as Novia Scotias, which were small and especially glorious.

Shockingly, the oysters in my local supermarket were from California. But any good fish market should stock regional oysters. For our little Berkshire party, I ordered an assortment from Rubiner’s in Great Barrington. Each Monday, they email a list of available fish and seafood. You respond by Wednesday and pick up your order Friday. The price is high, but so is the quality, and the staff knowledgeable. I bought an excellent assortment that was well labeled. Regional oysters are also available at Guido’s.

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