I love oysters, be it the classics – Chowder, Rockefeller – or freshly shucked. My baptism came years ago on a New Brunswick pier – an old oysterman shucked my first. I raised the shell to my lips taking care not to spill the liquid, tilted my head and let it slide down, chewing the delicate flesh before swallowing. Today, as a chef, 25 years of research and preparation have only deepened my passion for the oyster. I guess the old man knew a thing or two! So take a walk on a pier with me. I have something I’d like you to taste…
The cold waters of east and west coast Canada produce a few species of exceptional oysters, both wild and farmed. The difference in flavor, texture, and taste derives from the area in which they are harvested, local conditions, nutrients, and temperature. Once only available seasonally, aquaculture now provides for the enjoyment of oysters year-round. Oysters harvested in Canada include such prized varieties as Bras D`Or and Cape Ann (N.S.); Caraquet (N.B.); Malpeque (P.E.I.); and Kumamoto (B.C). Oysters begin the life cycle in a hatchery as larvae suspended in circulating water tanks, transforming within weeks to tiny seeds then transferred to the ocean for grow-out. There are three cultivation methods: Seabed (seeds planted on the ocean floor); Tube (larvae attached to vertically suspended lengths of tubing or rope secured to a flotation device); and, Raft (seeds placed in trays suspended from a flotation device). Oysters are typically ready for market in 12-16 months (depending on variety), and measure 8-10 cm from hinge to shell tip.
The oyster is to food what champagne is to drink – the definitive ‘mood setter.’ It is said that when Aphrodite rose from the sea on an oyster shell and gave birth to Eros, the word ‘Aphrodisiac’ was born. Casanova consumed dozens. So, when next with that special someone, lay out the oysters and divine where the evening may lead!
About the: Dino Cordileone.