View From Your Table
I apologize. That is a terrible image. The light was low, and I couldn’t see what I was doing. But the historic moment needed to be captured. That there, amici, is a dozen Massachusetts oysters. Local ones. A friend invited me to dine with him tonight at the Oceanaire Seafood Room, where I asked our waiter, a self-described “oyster nerd,” to deliver me a good tasting of the local fare. He brought me four each of the bivalves from Katama Bay, Pleasant Bay, and Island Creek.
This side of Paris, it’s as as close as I’m ever going to get to the happiest place on earth (I speak, of course, of Huîtrerie Régis). These oysters were transporting. They’re briny, minerally, metallic — just everything you could possibly want in an oyster. The Island Creeks were my favorite, because they had a hint of melony sweetness in the middle, just like the Marennes-Olerons chez Régis.
Mark my words: I am going to have every possible meal at a Boston oyster bar while I’m here. If an oyster bar opens for breakfast, I’m there. I could not imagine living in a place where you could just walk in off the street like you were the Tsar of Russia or something, and purchase such goodness, and slurp it right off the shell.
“Where are you from?” said the waiter, amused by my enthusiasm.
“South Louisiana,” I said.
He screwed his face up. “The oystahs theah are terrible.”
“Well, I can’t defend them, not after this,” I confessed sheepishly. “These Atlantic oysters are in another category entirely.”
“The wahm watah,” he said. “S’no good.” And then he discoursed on oyster terroir. I was in heaven. Am in heaven. You know where to find me for the next couple of days: either at the Q Ideas conference, at BC talking about Dante, or communing at an area oyster bar with all that is good and holy in the great state of Massachusetts.
Better photo next time, though…
UPDATE: I didn’t mention that I found a fantastic used book store, Commonwealth Books, just down the street. Bought a copy of Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Paradiso for $6, and The Dissolution of the Medieval Outlook by Gordon Leff for $11. And if I hadn’t had to run out to make my dinner engagement, heaven knows what else I would have carried out of that store.