Just like wine and whisky the punch and flavour of any oyster…
WHERE TO FIND
Just like wine and whisky the punch and flavour of any oyster depend on the location and region of harvest. Two regions which come to mind when thinking of oysters are Santa Catarina in Brazil and France.
For years now, Santa Catarina oysters have been one of Brazil’s best-kept secrets, guarded fiercely by locals determined to preserve quality and sustainability. Oyster farming came to Florianópolis in the late 1980s as an experiment for local small-scale fishermen, who were struggling to survive on fishing alone. To their surprise, the oysters turned out beautifully—fat and firm, with a creamy texture, and a mildly briny, zesty flavour. And just like that, a small industry was born.
Tuscan-born chef, Paolo Lavezzini believes that "Santa Catarina has the best oysters because of the cold sea current coming in from southern Brazil and Patagonia. The lower temperature contributes to the growth of succulent, tasty, and iodised oysters, which really maintain the flavour of the ocean," Paolo says.
And because there are no large scale producers for these oysters, being in its infancy, you'd have to indulge in them and go to Brazil. The creme of the crop oysters are harvested by local farmers that are organised into cooperatives. And the market is just for the local restaurants, or their own to sell.
Perhaps this is a good thing because the locals are all about sustainability. Some of them even make sure to throw back the shells of these captured wonders, in order for them to grow back. It really is just nature at work.
So, is you're planning a trip to Santa Catarina, make sure to order oysters from Ostradamus, headed by Chef Jaime Barcelos. Everybody swears by their oysters and menu.
Fine de Claire is not a place, unlike Santa Catarina, but rather a natural method of breeding. You can grow oysters anywhere in France, but for it to be Fine de Claire, it has to have spent at least 28 days in knee-deep rectangular salt ponds (claire).
This makes the oyster develop a superior quality shell which makes for less fleshy meat. The oysters are soft, have higher liquid content and a sweeter taste.
France is the number one country in Europe in terms of oyster production and consumption, in fact, 86 per cent of what they produce they also consume. With an estimated $847 million in annual oyster sales, there are around 3,400 French oyster growers - so you know it's the country to beat.
Because it's everywhere in France, do you expect to find it on the menu, everywhere? Of course! You can even buy fresh oysters from seafood markets, with an average price of $13 per kilogram.
The mecca of French oysters is in Cancale, northern France. You can find quality oysters anywhere in this town. But if we're talking best-served oyster meal, then there's only one place to try- Huitrerie Regis. This restaurant offers exceptional Marennes Oleron oyster, which includes a Fine de Claire selection, of course.
And here's the secret, it's not as expensive as you think. It's going to cost at least $50 per person. The coast of France offers fantastic oyster experiences. Virtually anywhere along the French coastline (including the Mediterranean) delicious French oysters are served, and at a fraction of the cost of those in Paris. There is no finer experience than dining on oysters overlooking the Thau lagoon as the sun goes down.