I’ve never been an oyster lover. I’ve had oyster shooters (raw, in a shot glass, with vodka and condiments) in the far distant past. Once I tried grilling oysters; they were supposed to pop open like clams. They never did; they were so overcooked they were inedible.
Now Paul, my beloved husband, had grilled oysters at Hog Island Oyster in the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. (Also in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.) They are shucked, grilled on the half shell, and bathed in bagna cauda (a hot butter and garlic concoction.) He swooned so completely that he texted me a picture of what he was having. Frankly, I had a hard time telling what the picture was, but I took him at his word.
We recently decided to spend a weekend in Geyserville, a village, really, in Sonoma County. Paul was anxious to have those oysters again, so I agreed to detour through Napa and make an oyster stop. I must agree that they were wonderful, flavorful, tender, just barely cooked. The menu detailed the ingredients; the grill man told me how to cook them. I was set. I made them a few days ago and they turned out really good. Paul said some little something was missing, perhaps a squeeze of lemon. At any rate, if you decide to try it, the shucking is the awful part. They wouldn’t open, couldn’t slip that shucking knife in for nothing. He finally had me fetch his rubber mallet and whacked them on the hinge. Mission accomplished.
1 dozen oysters shucked and on the half shell
½ cube butter
1 minced shallot
1 minced clove garlic
¼ teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Italian parsley
Melt last 5 ingredients over medium low heat. Place oysters on a really hot grill; try not to spill natural oyster juices. Spoon bagna cauda mixture in each oyster. Grill 2 to 3 minutes until oysters are barely done and bagna cauda is bubbly. Oysters should be hot and very tender. Serve with lemon wedges. Mangia!
As a side note, Sonoma County is loaded with wine makers. At our B&B they have a different wine maker come every Friday night to talk about and taste wine. Our guy, Brad, from Mercury wine, regaled us with wine making lore and plied us with four different wines. That was loads of fun. Then we walked 2 blocks to El Diavolo for thin crust pizza (divine). El Diavolo is an Italian place, and was jumping. Marvelous, considering Geyserville has one street just a few blocks long. If you decide to go you can’t miss it. Really.