The best of all possible oyster bars!

Zenster, I just KNOW you’ll eventually click on this. Have you (or all you other ‘nince Dopers) been to the Los Gatos Farmers’ Market on Sundays? There’s a guy there who cultivates his own oysters, several species, and keeps an open-air oyster bar. He shucks oysters and clams to order, $1 each (!!!), provides condiments, and they are without exception the best oysters I have ever eaten. You just stand there and devour oysters one after another, count your empty sheels, and tell him the total. We’re going this Sunday, I hope, with a bottle or two of chilled French chablis, and will eat oysters until we explode. Just thought I’d pass this on to all you oyster-aholics.

Every time I go to the Los Gatos farmer’s market, my longest pause is at this booth. So glad to know that you have discovered it as well. I haven’t been there in a few years, but Sunday sounds real good to me. Let’s set a time and see if we can’t round up some other dopers to perform some major mollusk molestations.
Zenster’s first law:

Never eat oysters when you’re lonely.

They also have this at The Ferry Building Farmers Market in SF. Hog Island Oysters comes down. I’ve also been up there a few times, they are up by Pt. Reyes. It’s great. You can also get them BBqed right there for you. Absolute heaven.

Zenster: We are usually there approximately 10-ish. The oyster guy said that wine is prohibited at the FM, but that people ignore the rule and nobody hassles them. I didn’t know the oyster guy had been there that long! I mean, he still had fingers left and everything.

oldscratch: You’re kidding – I haven’t seen that, although I’ve only been to that market once or twice. Now I have another reason to visit the SF farmers’ market. BBQ oysters sound like heaven; think we could sneak in a few brewskis to drink with them?

Mmmmmm. Tomales Bay oysters. We used to go hiking at Point Reyes and then get a bag of oysters to barbecue on the windy beach at sunset.


Gotta get some seafood this week.

Oysters? Never had 'em. I love seafood, though and I’m not opposed to trying new things. I’ve seen them at my local seafood counter (they have very fresh stuff). If I buy a few, what the heck do I do with 'em? Do you cook them? What do they taste like? Now my curiosity is piqued.


Shuck and swallow Zette, shuck and swallow.

Oysters are best raw, but are also quite good when grilled on a BBQ. Go and buy an oyster knife, and try a couple. You can probably pick up the proper technique on a website.

Well, purists would probably say that oysters should only be eaten raw, with maybe a squirt of lemon or a little coctail sauce. The very best ones don’t really require anything else.

However, much of the time the ones you see at fish counters are really big, and I think big ones are best barbequed or broiled.

Go ahead and try a raw one, if you think you’d like it. If you’ve had clams on the half shell, the experience is similar, although oysters taste–well it’s hard to describe the taste–a little sweet, a little briny, a little metallic (in a good way).

Another delicious alternative is baked or broiled. Oysters Rockefeller is basically oysters topped with creamed spinach and buttered crumbs. You could also just use a little barbeque sauce.

They are tricky to shuck, if you’ve never done it. A really good oyster knife is a must, unless you want to say goodbye to a few of your fingers.

The ones in the bottles tend to lose their fresh texture, although they are fine for oyster stew.

For a “virgin” like me, should I perhaps look for them cooked in a restaurant? I’m not the biggest fan of raw clams, though I can eat scads of cooked ones. Is the texture similar?

I’d also be into broiling them. Do they come out kinda chewy, like clams? Or flaky, like scallops?


They have a different texture than clams–much softer, whether they are raw or cooked. Overcooked clams get rubbery, but overcooked oysters just turn into mush.

A lot of people who don’t like the idea of raw oysters, still like them cooked. Another option is deep fried oysters. The bottled ones work well enough for that, too. You can used a tempura batter or any batter that you would use for fish, and serve them with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or whatever you would use for tempura.

My grandmother makes scalloped oysters every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner…heaven! Love 'em.

Welcome to mollusk heaven Zette. For the correct texture, a raw oyster should never be bigger than your thumb. Look for a smallish oyster that has a deep cup to the shell. The shell should not be open if it is truly fresh. If for some reason it is open, it should snap shut when tapped on. If it does not, discard it and move on.

A good oyster has a briny and delicate flavor. It should remind you of the smell of a breeze coming in off of a salt marsh. (And not when the tide’s out!).

My own personal favorite is one of the hardest to find. Namely, the Olympia oyster, also known as the Kumamoto. The Kumamoto is actually descended from Olympia stock. The Puget sound oyster crop was almost killed off entirely from the paper industry’s use of dioxin and bleach. Fortunately, the Japanese stocks were able to reseed the Puget area and we now have the best oysters available once more.

Other good oysters are Appalachicolas, Bienvilles, Blue Points and Eastern oysters. I find that the Pacific oysters are too large for me to enjoy raw. A large oyster loses the firm texture that a small oyster has. I suppose that they are best for grilling or what have you. I prefer raw oysters with only a splash of lemon juice, but that’s just me. A really good oyster needs nothing more than that.

Because of your interest Zette, I shall post an oyster preparation method at my recipe thread (see link below). It will show up in a few hours.

10’ish you say Pugluvr? 10’ish it is. Look for my trademark black fedora and leather vest. If the weather is a little inclement, I may be wearing my Australian duster.

Incidentally, there will be a superb art show over at the Pruneridge mall in Campbell. It will be showing the works of one of Disney’s animators Eyvind Earle. Combine Maxfield Parrish and MC Escher and you have some idea of what you shall see. Think about it. I’ll be going there after the market. I may have to bring some killer cinnamon bread for our dessert.

Have to disagree with you on oysters there Zenster. Whil I too love small ones, there are some qite nice large oysters. Most notible is the famous Belon oyster of France. these are quite large and very creamy.

I also like the olympia oysters, which tend to be smaller than the Kumamoto and have a slightly metallic taste. mmmmmm.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Oysters! Raw, on the half shell, a splash of fresh lemon juice and a splash of tabasco, heaven, pure heaven.

Well, Zenster, this guy has Kumamotos to burn. He also has another species of a Japanese name (Miyamoto?), that to me taste just as good as Kumamotos but are a tad larger. He has one he calls “triploid,” which he claims is immune to the dangerous conditions of summer, as it doesn’t have the plumbing necessary to breed, and I thought it was even superior to the Kumamoto – it was plump, slightly firm and nutty tasting.

Zette, just hie yourself to the nearest oyster bar, take a deep breath and dive in. Oysters are not strong or fishy or gross in any way. They are tender, slippery, and have a fresh, briny, pleasantly metallic flavor. They are seriously addictive, however, and not cheap.

Here’s one of my favorite oyster recipes – simple and yummy:


Two cold-pack jars of fresh oysters
1 tablespoon of butter
A few slivers of garlic
Quart of whole milk
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

Bring the milk slowly to the scalding point in a big saucepan. In the meantime, melt the butter in a medium skillet, saute the garlic in it, and cut the oysters into the skillet, using a kitchen shears (this way you won’t lose any juice; also, reserve the juice in the jars). Saute the oysters until just plumped and curled around the edges, dump them into the milk, and add the reserved oyster liquor from the oyster jars. Salt the stew to taste and add a shake or two of cayenne.

Homemade garlic bread is the accompaniment of choice with this, and a good chardonnay.

See you there Pugluvr at ten on Sunday. Now would you do me a favor and post that oyster stew recipe over at my recipe thread?

Consider it done.

Do our best to be on hand. The oyster guy also sells bulk clams, 4 for $3. I see a linguini with clams, white wine and garlic in our future.

Mmmm oysters. We’re well into October so I guess that means it’s eatin’ time again. Sadly I cannot join you SFers, but I will get by with fresh ones from the Gulf. ::drool::

Personally, I prefer chocolate bars to oyster bars…

Even the ones with the Creamy Clam Nouget?