Edit ModuleShow Tags

Big Crowds for a Briny Feast


Yesterday, on a small section of St. Peter Street in St. Paul, a sold-out crowd celebrated Meritage’s 2nd annual Oysterfest. Chef-owner Russell Klein flew in 25,000 examples of some of the country's finest and most sought-after oysters for the event. A perfect sunny day greeted the estimated 1,500 guests as they lined up to oyster-filled tubs of ice, while teams of shuckers did their best to keep up with demand. During the slurping frenzy, six chefs from Butcher & the Boar, Salty Tart, Vincent, Heartland, Haute Dish, and Meritage competed in an oyster shucking competition with Butcher’s incomparable Jack Riebel taking the win.

oyster openingAmongst the visiting oystermen in attendance, CJ “the oyster dude” Husk from Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury Mass., a former Boston bike messenger with a baseball cap and long beard, gave a short oyster-opening demo before the event. He explained that, “it’s more about getting the knife into the hinge than twisting. Then, once you’re in, pull the knife against the muscle, cutting it clean without gouging the oyster.” Most restaurant workers I know open oysters by pushing them onto a cutting board with a towel as protection. Then with a substantial amount of effort, they pry the oyster open.

Not my man CJ “the oyster dude.” He cradled the oyster in one hand, no board or towel necessary, and easily slipped the knife into the hinge. The trick, he said, was to place the tip of your pointer finger near the tip of the knife. The fingertip acts as a brake, and the knife only pushes into the oyster a small distance—maybe an 1/8 inch. Less effort is needed and “not much of the knife needs to get inside anyway.” Having a sharp pointed oyster knife helps, and Island Creek sells a good example on their website for $20.

Beyond technique, the oysters from Island Creek tasted fresh and briny, like a stolen kiss from the Atlantic (although my nine-year-old Sonia might have disagreed). They’re so good that Thomas Keller uses them on his famed “oysters and pearls” dish, in which oysters nestle in tapioca and spoonfuls of caviar. “We hand pick Kellor’s oysters. He likes them round with a deep cup for more juice. We put them in a pile called the PS pile—ya know, for Per Se, his New York restaurant. "Here, this would be a good one for the PS pile," he said, and grabbed a round, perfect-looking oyster from the tub.

Island Creek sells their oysters retail with next-day delivery at $1.50 each for a 100-count bag. For less than the gratuity at Per Se, you could get the crew together for a world-class oyster fest in your own backyard. Do me a favor though. Don’t tell them I told you about the PS pile.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

A True Farm-to-Table Dinner: Cedar + Stone Celebrates Farmers

Farmers get a special "thank you" dinner at JW Marriott's Cedar + Stone, Urban Table restaurant at Mall of America

Minnesota Wine Country: What’s New at the Minnesota State Fair

Enjoy local wines, hard cider, wine slushies, free food and wine demos and more at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

The Best (and Worst) Food Delivery Services

Twin Cities restaurant-to-your-door services, ranked

Gamertainment Go-Tos

Check out eight Twin Cities eateries to get your game on

New Specialty Brews and Beverages at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair

Quench your thirst with 40 specialty brews and beverages—here is a complete list of the 27 new and 13 returning beverages found only at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together

New Hotel, Great Restaurants: Stillwater Is Blowing Up

Lora Hotel, Feller Restaurant, Pearl and the Thief—what's going on in Stillwater!?

North Loop Destination: Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea

Espressos, teas, cold brews, and elixirs mean there’s something for everyone at North Loop’s new coffee and tea café

Berry Love Plus Berry Shortcake with Lime Whipped Cream Recipe

Everyone loves berries—including Justin Timberlake, the creator of the "brasberry"—but it just so happens the Twin Cities loves them more than most

3 Things to Eat This Week: July 25-29

Eat like a kid in summer: root beer popsicles, corncobs, Cubanos
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags