Monday, November 9, 2009

Eating Oysters on the Streets of France

So the saying goes, oysters are best eaten in months that have an 'r' in them, and so we certainly did. At every market and supermarket we went to, crates and crates of the craggy delicacies were displayed at unbelievable prices (to us, that is, since oysters over here cost a minimum SGD3 for one). And the range! Fines de Claire, Speciales de Claire, Belon, Speciales de Normandie, all so alive and smelling, tasting of the sea.

At the Rue Cler street market in Paris one Sunday morning, we had half a dozen of these beautiful Speciales de Normandie for brunch (6 Euros). These were our favourite, with a robust and salty flavour, and were very meaty. The Fines de Claires, which we had for breakfast that same day, eaten at a park bench facing La Tour Eiffel, had a milder and smoother taste but the meat was thinner.

And so when we saw more oysters at the weekly street market in Arles, Provence, it only took a second's hesitation for us to buy these Huitres de Pleine Mer (I looked them up - these are also from the Normandy and very well regarded among oyster lovers) at only 5 Euros for a dozen, and shuck them ourselves in the hotel, using a butter knife that we had packed in our luggage by great serendipity!!

E turned out to be quite a natural at shucking oysters... Yums! oysters never taste so good as when you shuck them yourselves. Look at the size of this giant! So sweet and tasting of the sea, with nary a hint of that strong metallic taste one gets in oysters served at hotel buffets in Singapore.

And of course, we couldn't go away without trying the famous Belon oysters. These were bought from Carrefour in Nice, at 11.90 Euros per dozen. By the time we ate them for dinner back in our hotel room, they were less alive than the market ones slurped down early in the morning, but still put up a huge fight for their lives. E also discovered that Belons are the most difficult to shuck, because their shells have many paper-thin layers which shatter easily and make it most challenging to find the cleavage between the two valves. We were not that impressed with the Belons, for all their fame, they tasted rather ordinary, only with a slightly stronger flavour than the Fines de Claire. But then again, what do we know, we are no oyster connoisseurs!
W, don't you think these would make you and Z a magnificent dinner with a cool and crisp glass of white wine or champagne, and some fresh baguette? Ahh, wish I was back in France now.
No. of oysters eaten per person in 8 days: 21

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