Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Shucking Good Time

Oysters bring to mind different memories for different people. Some good, putting lead in your pencil (wink); others not so much, food-borne illness or mercury poisoning. Rumors aside, oysters are typically served on beds of crushed ice all over the country. They have been part of American cuisine for a long time. Today they are considered a bourgeois food, usually served with dainty forks and champagne if they occasion calls for it, but they weren't always considered so. In fact, 19th century oyster bars were considered seedy places; hangout spots for society's bottom feeders. Widely available and dirt cheap, a stew was invented with oysters, since stews are what most poor people ate in those days. The broth masked the flavor of days-old food and easily softened weeks-old hardened bread.

Nowadays, were fortunate enough to be able to afford more than just stew, but not as happy about the price point of the modern oyster. Even at dollar oyster happy hours-- there are quite a few in the city -- a dozen will cost $12.00 before tax and tip and let's be real one dozen is never enough.

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar doesn't host dollar oysters any time of day, but they do have an impressive oyster selection given they are not a raw bar. We go for the Kumamoto's. They're harvested locally in Point Reyes and you know how we San Franciscans just love supporting local businesses. They're moderately sized, slippery on the tongue and delicate on the palate. I've been told not to eat oysters on Sundays because they're not fresh, but you wouldn't know it from tasting these. Biting into one, I notice it still has its crispness and the flavor is superb, complemented by a drizzle of mignonette. Some oyster rumors are true. These mouthwatering mollusks always give me a figurative hard-on, that can only appeased by more. 398 Hayes St. (415)551-1590

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