Loving Local Oysters

This Valentine’s Day, why not share a dozen raw, smoked, baked, boiled, fried, pickled or barbecued locally harvested oysters? And the aphrodisiac rep? One possibility is oysters’ high zinc content — a necessary mineral to stimulate testosterone production. Raw oysters are like fine wines, each with complex flavors that vary among the regions. Take these tips from area chefs to get the perfect one. 

Whitney Gaunt
Fish, Sausalito

“The ideal oyster preparation is to pack an oyster knife, lemons, a corkscrew, a bottle of Muscadet on ice and head to the shore. The best oysters are right out of the water, right out of the shell—all else borders on travesty. Not to say there aren’t a few good dishes out there (those of New Orleans, say) but the key is to keep it simple and not overpower the delicacy of ‘the prince of bivalves.’”

Nick’s Cove and Cottages, Tomales Bay

“When buying oysters, there is only one rule: buy the freshest you can find. No amount of culinary expertise can help a bad oyster, so shop well. Barbecued are great, and fried tempting, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of buying beautiful fresh oysters, shuck ’em and slurp ’em down.”

Brian Beach
Yankee Pier, Larkspur

“The allure of raw oysters is unmistakable and the best advice I could offer regarding their preparation is to be very picky about the quality of your oysters — you should always take interest in where your oysters are originating from to assure that they are not coming from polluted or unsafe areas. Although a clean, fresh oyster is hard to improve upon, some people do like to use accoutrements with their oysters (such as mignonette or Tabasco sauce), but it is best to use only a few drops of these types of sauces so as not to overwhelm the oyster’s naturally delicate flavor. Of course, a glass of crisp white wine or champagne doesn’t hurt either!”