Even as a purist, I can appreciate a well-dressed oyster. Like fashion, it is a balance between personal preference and steadfast principles. Here are some basic guidelines on what to use, how much to use, and what else to try when you get bored of the classics.

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Basic Do’s & Don’ts

DO try your first oyster with nothing at all. Just appreciate what nature has created all on its own! Plus, this is to give you a baseline to work from, so you know how much you need to add.

DO use any accoutrement sparingly… especially take care with freshly made mignonettes that shriek with high acidity — too much at once and you’ll be crying/choking. Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.

DON’T use all toppings all at once: like combining lemon, cocktail sauce, AND mignonette is overkill. Try one, maybe a combo of two and see how it goes.

DON’T drizzle lemon across the entire plate when you’re sharing a platter with others without asking. Serious pet peeve of mine.

DON’T pair an oyster topped with a cheap cocktail sauce and a fine champagne or white wine. This might sound obvious, but just wanted to put it out there. It totally defeats the purpose.

DO experiment with non-traditional accoutrements and evaluate them against both East and West Coast oysters. On that note…

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Getting Beyond The Classics

FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER: The fragrant aroma adds a wonderful dimension to the briny bite. A little goes a long way. Best with briny East Coast oysters. Shown above with some fantastic WiAnno oysters.

FRESHLY GRATED GINGER, WASABI PASTE, LIME JUICE, A LITTLE OIL: Amazing with West Coast oysters and also on scallops!

SPLASH OF VODKA, DAB OF CREME FRAICHE, CAVIAR: Ultra luxe, Russian royalty-style, sure to be a crowd-pleaser every time. Make it wallet friendly by using Cajun (Bowfin) caviar! Works well with all varieties of oysters.

EGG ON EGG ON EGG: Raw quail egg, uni, tobiko or salmon roe will create a mind blowing umami bomb. Use a plump West Coast oyster for best result.

BBQ SAUCE AND BACON BITS: Somehow, it worked.

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My Past Experiments With Accompaniments

Sea & Spice: A Mignonette Experiment with Prometheus Springs

Oysters with Caviar at Oyster Nosh