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Monday, December 31, 2012

Oyster Virgins, Oyster Veterans "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party


Our first annual "Shuck the Halls" Oyster & Champagne Tasting Party, was a blast all around!

I was surprised to find out that most of our party goers were "newbies" to the oyster scene.  Some had never tried the delightful mollusk, while others had tried once and not enjoyed the experience for one reason or another.

We decided to cook a few for the newbies and of course try others in their natural state....RAW!


Since we live in Texas, there's not a huge selection of oysters available at the grocery store. Not to worry, many oyster companies will ship their sweet babies right to your door.

Island Creek Oysters, based in Duxbury, Mass is a sustainable oyster farm operating in the "backyard" of Duxbury Bay. What started as a hobby for Skip Bennett, planting his first oysters in 1992, has grown into one of the largest oyster companies in the US, selling over 100,000 oysters a week!

 Island Creek Oysters - simply gorgeous!

If you live in Boston, you can check out their oysters first hand at the Island Creek Oyster Bar.  What's better, is that you can feel good about eating there, because they're a company that "does good." 

How? Well, they created the Island Creek Oyster Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps fund aquaculture programs around the world. Their vision is to create a world where all people have access to nutritious and sustainable protein sources in even the poorest communities.

Get more info at: http://islandcreekoysters.com

Kachemak Bay Oysters shipped right to my door
 
Our second batch of oysters were flown in straight from the frigid waters of Alaska! These Kachemak Bay Oysters arrived smelling fresh from the ocean (no, not fishy...just clean and ocean fresh!)

Grown in a suspended culture, the Kachemak Shellfish Growers cast lantern nets into the waters of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula where the oysters feed on plankton and are sheltered from the harmful sun, mud and sand - which result in a quite uniform oyster, perfect for serving on the half shell.

Harbor Island Signature Oyster Knife

Of course, you can't have an oyster party without the proper tools, now can you?  Harbor Island Oyster Co. provided us with a gorgeous engraved Harbor Island Signature Oyster Knife  for the birthday boy and one to give away as a prize at the party. 

This is a perfect gift for any seafood lover in your life, you can get it engraved with initials or a saying, like we did "Texas Xmas '12." 


Harbor Island Party Shuckers

They also gave us a handful of Oyster Roast Party Shuckers and Oyster Gloves for the newbies in the group. I liked that these knives weren't as sharp as the Signature Oyster Knife.  This way, you don't have to stress about that friend who had one too many libations, shucking their hand instead of the oyster


Ted's Rocky Fellas

Can you smell the garlic in the air? We had some non-raw loving guests, so found a fantastic recipe for a version of Oysters Rockefeller from Future Seafoods, called Ted's Rocky Fellas.
 

They were a total hit, served with crusty french bread.  The gooey Fontina and Monterey Jack cheese sauce with crisp bites of bacon were a great accompaniment to the briny oyster. 


Happy guests!

All of our guests, enjoyed both raw and cooked oysters. We even got the "raw-haters" to sample and enjoy the oysters in their naked state. We did however, start them off easy with the cooked oysters and slowly (after a few sips of champagne) introduce the raw oysters.



Some of the spread. Mmm...delicious.


Honestly, these Alaskan oysters were some of the most clean, and fresh tasting oysters I've had to date. I've been to numerous Oyster Festivals and even the renowned Union Oyster House and their taste is unmatched.

The Kachemak Bay Oysters  were a perfect "starter oyster" for guests who had to muster up the courage to try raw oysters for the first time, as they were mild (not boring, mind you), and had a sweet cantaloupe like flavor. 



I made a super easy, but quite tasty mignonette sauce (a traditional vinegar and shallot topping for oysters) that everyone seemed to enjoy on their raw oysters. Mixed up my own cocktail sauce too!

A number of people asked what was in my cocktail sauce, as they thought it was "perfect." All I'll tell you is that it only has three ingredients. It's all about the ratio, folks!

Alaskan Kachemak Bay Oysters

Look at those beautiful bivalves! I enjoyed them best with a squeeze of lemon and a dab of the mignonette sauce. 

Island Creek Oysters - Duxbury, MA

The Island Creek Oyster, was much smaller in size and had a savory, almost buttery taste with a lovely earthy or mossy final note. Also a great choice for those beginning their adventure into the oyster world! 


Trivia Winners being silly!

I had some fun trivia questions chosen, prior to the party, so we had a healthy little trivia competition. 
  • How many oyster varieties are there?
Answer: Over 100
  • Are oysters male or female?
Answer: Both! Oysters change their sex at least once during their lifetime.
  • How can you tell how old an oyster is?
Answer: By the number of rings in their shells (just like a tree).




The trivia winners, received some cool swag from Island Creek Oysters!

 

We had fun sampling different types of champagne to pair with our oysters. This is all that was left at the end of the night....
 
 

Our friend, Alaskan King Crab came to join us - made for a great centerpiece on the table! Not to mention, a lovely snack after he was done doing his job as decor.




So remember when planning your next party - entertain the idea of an oyster tasting party.  It's a great way to get people together from all different backgrounds and enjoy a new experience together.

We had a lot of laughs watching the faces of the oyster "virgins" contort as they tried oysters for the first time - and a great time listening to the oyster "veterans" talk about tasting notes and their sampling experience over time.

Cheers! From McKinney Mommas!
 
Remember you can get Island Creek Oysters and Kachemak Bay Oysters shipped fresh right to your door and all the oyster gear you need from Harbor Island Oyster Co. to make for a great oyster tasting party!

CHEERS! 






Disclosure: I was not paid for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own and I am under no obligation to write a positive review.  Thank you to the companies mentioned for providing me with samples for honest evaluation.

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