Oyster How To'sFebruary 3, 2017

How to Open Oysters Without a Shucking Knife

Have you ever been stuck on an island with a bunch of oysters, but not a shucking knife? Here’s how to work around this “terrible” situation.

In A Half Shell Zeeland Roem Holland Oysters

Over the winter holiday, B and I went on our first dedicated dive trip to Bonaire, a tiny island that’s part of the Netherlands Antilles in the Carribean Sea. Ever since our trip to St. Lucia in 2012, I have been fascinated with being underwater. Then once I got my PADI certification in Thailand in 2014, scuba diving has become our new thing. If you haven’t tried it before, do try it! It gives you a whole new level of appreciation for our oceans.

We dove twice a day, every day, for 10 days. While I knew that we would encounter plenty of surprises under the sea, I was surprised to discover something equally remarkable inside the island’s main supermarket.

In A Half Shell Zeeland Roem Holland Oysters

Fact: where there are oysters, there I will be. It was the day before Christmas Eve and this super nice Dutch supermarket was packed. People were running around buying up all sorts of fruits, vegetables, meats, liquor, and snacks. Without even thinking about it, I wandered into an aisle in the “prepared” seafood section and came across this tightly packed wooden box of oysters from the Netherlands. A promo sign sign hung next to this box and another tray of less impressively packaged oysters. There was only one box left and I haven’t had “Zeeland” oysters in many, many years! Obviously, I wouldn’t be leaving the shop without it.

After paying about $25 USD for this pack of 12, we went back to our villa and started investigating the origins of these oysters. Zeeland’s Roem is part of Europe’s largest seafood processor. They mainly deal in shellfish—mussels, oysters, and prawns. On their website, they claim that their creuse oysters, known as “Fines de Zélande” are raised in pure Zeeland waters of the Oosterschelde and Grevelingen.

I picked up an oyster from the seaweed nest and felt the heftiness in my hand. A lot of meat inside, perhaps? That’s when I came to the realization that we’d have to improvise a bit on getting these guys open. I am a strong proponent for safe shucking, which means that I think you should always use hand protection and a proper oyster knife. I know, I know, some bros want to act tough and shuck barehanded. That’s fine, whatever. I like to keep my palms as soft, smooth, and blood-free as possible! 🙂

But assume you’re without a knife. (Maybe you broke it already?) That’s a cue to head to the garage or tool shed. Look for a sturdy instrument with a tapered or flat, but somewhat sharp tip. Some have found success with butter knives… in this case, a butter knife wouldn’t even fit under the hinge! We ended up having luck with one of the screwdrivers on a diver’s multitool.

Check out my buddy Hans taking a crack at it in the video below:

So there you have it! Fresh oysters from Holland that are pretty damn well shucked, if I don’t say so myself. (All of the oysters pictured above were by yours truly.) Unfortunately, the balmy 80-degree weather and my paranoia prevented me from trying any of these raw. Although I’m sure they would’ve been perfectly fine, there was no way in hell that I’d want to risk it before an international flight. In the end, we settled on grilling them with a makeshift BBQ bourbon butter. They were still quite tasty, but I suppose I’ll have to take a trip to Holland to experience the real deal.

What is the strangest tool you’ve ever used to open an oyster? Share your story in the comment section below!

Oyster How To'sSeptember 4, 2014

How to Dress An Oyster

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

Oyster How To'sJune 27, 2014

How to Shuck An Oyster

New York Oyster Lovers Meetup is raising the bar for what it means to be a true oyster lover. In a fun and informal Shucking Workshop and Dinner, organizer Crystal Cun of W&T Seafood demonstrated the do's and don'ts of shucking while members practiced their new skills on a set of 10 beautiful Wellfleets.

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Having the Right Equipment

In order to shuck an oyster, all you really need is an oyster knife and something (usually a towel or glove) to protect your hand.

I’ve seen a lot of people shuck oysters using the wrong tools: butter knives, steak knives, screwdrivers, and even a letter opener. Don’t be tempted. It will end in stab wounds and tears sooner or later. Oyster knife blades are specifically designed to deal with the toughness of the shells, and the rounded handles gives you more leverage when popping them open.

Crystal brought an array of knives to experiment with, including the new ShuckerPaddy — an innovative new “shucking pistol” designed by Patrick McMurray, professional oyster shucker, restauranteur, and all around oyster expert. He also has a degree in kinesiology, which came in handy when he was developing the knife’s ergonomic design.

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Oyster Orientation

First thing’s first: knowing how to face the oyster and where to insert the blade. For practical purposes, oysters have top and bottom shells. The top is usually flat and bottoms are cupped. Sometimes oysters can grow in funny wiggly ways, so the distinction may not be as clear. When shucking, the cup side should be down. That’s to help preserve the seawater or precious “oyster liquor” when opening.

The hinge of an oyster, where the two shells come together, is where the knife blade is *typically* inserted. I say typically because it’s not the only place you can start from. You can also start from the bill or the side, which actually might be easier on some Pacific oysters or Virginicas that tend to break in half on top.

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Applying the Right Technique

If you position your knife in the right spot, it doesn’t take much force to open the oyster. Wiggle the blade into the hinge until it feels secure. You should be able lift your knife and have the oyster stick to it without moving. Once you get that far, all you need to do is twist the knife like as if you’re turning a key or doorknob.

The torquing motion will pop the two shells apart with a nice click. Don’t attempt to pry the oyster open — you might just break your knife that way. Once you get the initial pop, then just pry the oyster open little by little. Run the knife around the side and gradually open it up. Scrape off the top adductor muscle with your blade and discard the top shell.

I personally have trouble getting a clean top shell shuck. Usually bits of the mantle and adductor muscle come off with it. I think it’s all in the wrist and angle of the blade. It was actually much easier for me to get a clean cut with the ShuckerPaddy knife. After the top comes off, clear off any shell, grit or dirt from the meat. Then scrape the knife along the bottom shell to dislocate the bottom adductor muscle.

The oyster will have a natural suction against the shell, even once you cut the bottom adductor away. I usually like the nudge the oyster fully away from its shell so that it’s completely free and ready to slurp. Another way to get it loose is to rapidly shimmy the oyster in your hand. The vibration usually will cut it loose.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Every oyster is unique, which makes shucking a bit of an artform. After a few hundred, you’ll get a much better sense of what works best for you.

Need More Help? Check out my video on shucking or these other videos on shucking!

By the way, if you’re in NYC and love oysters, you should definitely sign up for the New York Oyster Lovers Meetup group.

Oyster How To'sMarch 6, 2012

How To Enjoy Oysters At Home

We all love to order raw oysters when we are dining out, but have you ever considered bringing the half shell experience back home? It's surprisingly easy, affordable, and fun! I will explain how.

York River Oysters on the Half Shell

Step 1: Buy the Oysters

I must have gotten my taste for oysters from my parents, because they love them as well. The last time when we all got together, we went out for oysters in their area. For my mom’s birthday this year I wanted to do things a little bit differently; I wanted to bring the oyster bar experience to them and into their home. So I ordered four dozen York River Oysters from Tommy Leggett and had them delivered to their doorstep in (the middle of nowhere) Connecticut.

From my experience, the best place to buy oysters are through the farmers themselves. Oyster farmers are the keepers of the freshest goods and tend to offer the lowest prices. You should be able to find East Coast oysters for $1 a piece or less and West Coast for $1-2 a piece. Farmers also are intimately familiar with their products so you know exactly where your seafood is coming from, and that is rarely the case at your local supermarket. A downside is that most growers only sell a few varieties, if any at all to consumers. If you want to sample a variety of oysters, investigate seafood distributors or retailers.

Here are some oyster growers who sell directly to consumers:

Another option is to order direct online. Vital Choice offers a few oyster options, including Naked Cowboys (NY),  Kumamotos (WA), and Kusshi (BC).

Tips on how to buy oysters from your local seafood counter:

  • Ask to see the bag tag and examine the harvest date
  • Ask to try a sample to determine its freshness (even if you have to pay for it, it’ll be well worth it)
  • Ask to handpick the oysters if possible, and try to select the heaviest ones
  • Examine your purchase: make sure none of the oysters are dead (the shells will be open and won’t close when tapped)

If you’re not planning to consume the oysters immediately when you receiving them, store them in the fridge and cover them with a wet towel. Try your best to keep all of them cup side down. They can be kept happy and alive for several days in that state.  I’d still suggest opening at least one or two to check the quality upon arrival. Be careful if you want to keep them over ice. As the ice melts and temperature rises, the freshwater can kill the oyster if they’re submerged for an extended period of time, and decide to open back up. Fresh and live oysters will glisten in their shells and should also contain a good amount of liquor. To test its “alive-ness,” scrape a fork prong along its mantle (outermost circumference of flesh). It should/might slowly shrink back.

York River Oysters on Littledeer Half Sheller

Step 2: Gather the Equipment

You don’t need to be equipped with much to enjoy raw oysters, but it’s important to be safe and use the right tools. All you need to be is:

  • An oyster knife  – not to be confused with a clam knife or kitchen knife, santoku knife, butter knife, etc.
  • Some form of hand protection – kitchen towel or shucking glove (Some guys are even cocky confident enough to shuck barehanded, but I consider that to be a risky proposition.)

As an elegant alternative to a wearing clunky glove, consider the Littledeer Half Sheller (the maplewood egg-shaped board as shown above). I love using this shucking board to stabilize the shell and collect any runaway juices. It’s a must-have for the at-home shucker. Also doubles as an oyster coaster. Win!

If you’re looking to make a good presentation, you’ll also need:

  • Crushed ice or rock salt – to place the oysters over
  • Deep plate, platter or pan – to place the oysters in
  • Trash bag – to discard the shells
  • Accoutrements – lemon wedges, lime wedges, mignonette sauce, freshly ground pepper

I brought my trusty oyster knife (Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe 4 Inch Boston “Stabber” Knife), glove (Kevlar-coated, but I still managed to puncture it once), and Half Sheller with me for the occasion. Charlie Williams of BBQ Oyster Grill also graciously expedited over one of his fantastic oyster grilling racks for us to experiment with.

2015 UPDATES: I use a portfolio of oyster knives now and have discovered that different knives suit different oysters. Check out my Oyster Gear page to learn more about the varieties. The BBQ Oyster Grill design has also changed.

So now with all of my equipment and oysters ready at hand, it was now time to start shucking!

Plush, Buttery Meat!

Step 3: Shucking The Oysters

When they proclaimed, “The world is your oyster,” they forgot to also disclaim, “if you know how to shuck.” Once you learn how to shuck them, the doors to enjoying fresher, cheaper oysters will open easily for you. In reality, if you want to savor them raw and intact without paying a restaurant premium, you must shuck them yourself.

How much of a premium do restaurants charge for shucking, you wonder? Well, take the York River Oyster for example. In 2012, Aquagrill in NYC charges $2.15 per piece for them, whereas I bought them for about $1 per piece and that’s mostly the cost of shipping! $0.25-$1.00 per piece is the range of fees for having someone else shuck them for you.

Now probably having shucked well over 500 pieces in the last two years, I can tell you that it gets easier with practice. I’m no expert, but I can hold my own. If you stick to the right size and shape of shell, the activity is reasonably easy–even fun! I won’t go into details about how to shuck in this article, but will send you off with this video tutorial.

A few practical tips to make the shucking experience run smoothly:

  • Make sure to have a platter of ice near you to transfer the opened oysters to.
  • Have a clean towel on hand to wipe off mud or shell bits.
  • Plan your oyster to plate ratio ahead of time so you don’t run out of display space.

Mom Caught SnackingEnjoying the Fruits of Our Labor

I learned how to shuck oysters from Chef Laurence Edelman from Left Bank and have been passing down that knowledge to anyone who asks. I even taught my dad how to open them, and being the skillful engineer that he is, he immediately got the hang of it. My mom hanged back and just enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

York River OystersA Dash O Lemon

Step 4: Prep the Accoutrements

I’m a naked kind of girl. As in I like to eat my oysters without any condiments at all. My parents, like many people, like a few drops of lemon on theirs, so that’s what we did.  On occasion I enjoy drizzling a little bit of spicy and tart mignonette on top to liven them up. But seriously, try one without anything at all before you top them off. Do the right thing.

Here are some tasty mignonette recipes to try out:

Mom Loves Them

By now you should be enjoying the oysters.

The York River Oysters were fantastically plump, buttery and simply beautiful to look at. They are grown by Tommy Leggett and his crew in the lower York River at York Town, near the Chesapeake Bay. The liquor was mildly briny and the chewy meat possessed a clean aftertaste. The white bellies were mildly sweet and delivered a depth of flavor that is unique for Virginia oysters. My mom, who is usually picky about her seafood (she’s quite sensitive to “fishiness”) claimed that she could taste the freshness.

The four of us slurped up half a dozen each in no time at all.

Amidst the oyster bellies, we found a few stowaways.

A few of the oysters had “cute” little translucent oyster crabs hidden inside. They’re known as pea crabs and they are completely normal to see. They are simply using the oyster for protection and help themselves to the oyster’s food, but they don’t gnaw at the mollusk themselves. Back in the day, these little critters were considered to be a delicacy among epicureans. Despite being a little freaky looking, they’re quite tame. They can barely lift their little legs. Bryan had the guts to eat one alive. I don’t know why I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve definitely consumed more adventurous things before… like live (moving) octopus.

Oyster Crab!

Step 5: Firing Up the Grill

It’s not over yet! I purposefully saved the biggest and most formidable oysters for last — to grill. Given their size (4+ inches), they would do well barbecued or oven-roasted. I couldn’t wait to try out the BBQ Oyster Grill rack. It’s a simple and efficient sheet of perforated, accordion-bent steel that allows for the oyster to be held upright no matter what the shell is like. I tried a combination of cooking them on the half shell and also leaving them completely closed. After a few minutes on the fire, they popped open with ease.

I can’t even imagine how grilling without this rack would work. On a flat or even grated surface, the oysters would most likely tip over and spill its juices. I suppose you could always make a ghetto rack out of aluminum foil, but who really has the time? This was definitely the way to go.

With grilling comes a whole new set of sauces and recipes. Hot sauce is a trusted standby, but I would highly recommend experimenting with others. I created a savory garlic butter sauce for our batch. The next time around, I’d opt for bolder concoction for this kind of oyster.

Here are some great BBQ oyster sauces to try:

And if you’re REALLY trying to impress someone, check out my Roasted Oysters with Uni Butter recipe!

Fatty OystersBBQ Oyster Grill Outside

Taking The Out

Naturally, the final family verdict on this seafood treat was a unanimous thumbs up! For more photos, check out my Flickr gallery.

If you are planning to enjoy oysters at your home for the first time, do let me know how it goes. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments section or email them over. Oh, and be sure to check out my Oyster Mastery class on Skillshare!

Share your oyster memories on Instagram with me. Follow @inahalfshellblog and hashtag your adventures with #INAHALFSHELL. 

Oyster How To'sJuly 29, 2011

How to Throw a Fabulous Oyster & Champagne Party

As a toast to the sizzling summer, a couple of friends and I decided to throw an event that was sure to be a crowd pleaser: an oyster and champagne tasting party. The affair was a huge success! Everything went off smoothly and I came away with a handful of valuable tips and to-do’s that could help improve future oyster parties.

What’s not to love about oysters and champagne?

Beyond having an excuse to throw a rockin’ summer soiree for ourselves, this event gave each of us the opportunity to contribute our own unique strengths. My friend Chavelli designed a charming collection of invitations, tasting cards, and oyster identification cards (copy courtesy of W&T Seafood). Matt curated the champagnes and graciously hosted the party at his uber-posh West Village pad. I naturally organized the oyster front: sourcing (big thanks to my friends at W&T Seafood), shucking (big thanks to Eddie Oyster), and educating the masses. In our case, collaboration worked out well.

Oyster Tasting Guide

If you’re planning your party with friends, make sure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities up front. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a main “party lead”—someone who is buttoned up and motivated to manage the entire effort.

Effingham OystersOyster w/ Caviar and Creme Fraiche

Start with the End in Mind

Organizing a memorable party is an art, and my friend Chavelli is masterful at it. It’s useful to envision how you’d like the party to work before you think about what to buy. Talk this through with your co-organizer/s, since you want to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Mentally walk through the experience as a guest and consider the guests in attendance. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. How much structure? For us, we were actually imagining a pretty instructional tasting affair—everyone would try each oyster with each champagne. Based on this, we decided to supply guests with tasting guides (instructions on the front, a tasting grid on the back). Of course it didn’t happen the way that we imagined, due partially to the set up. A sit down, as opposed to a free-standing affair, would have been more conducive to a methodical tasting. However, the mood that we aimed for was spot on so the right thing was achieved!
  2. What kind of atmosphere? Is it an intimate gathering with close friends? Or a “mixer” among like-minded acquaintances? Since the three of us have pretty different circles of friends, it naturally became an event where new interactions took place. Due to building’s noise-level restrictions, we also decided to keep it between 30-40 guests total. It was an interesting challenge to select which guests to invite… knowing that they all needed to mesh well.
  3. How much information should your guests have? I personally wanted the party leave everyone with a little more knowledge about oysters than when they first came in. Different levels of familiarity or interest for oysters were also taken into consideration during the development of the invitation copy and tasting guide.
  4. What’s the budget? Be warned… an oyster & champagne isn’t cheap. You’re dealing with two relatively high-end products. What you can control is how much you’d like your guests to pitch in. We decided to require all attendees to bring a chilled bottle of champagne (one of the four on the tasting menu) to counterbalance some of the costs. More on costs below!

The Set Up

Materials

Once the structure, vibe, and content of the party is settled on, then it’s time to think about the physical requirements needed to make it all happen. There are a few areas to focus on: space, oysters, champagne, and other items to help “party flow.” Here’s a basic breakdown of things to consider for each of these important aspects.

Space

It’s easiest to start with a venue and try to develop a party that fits the space. If you have the flexibility to host the event in someone else’s space, make sure to discuss logistics early on.

  • Where to have the event: inside, outside, ease of getting there, parking options
  • When to have the event: afternoons are nice, but evenings can be just as fun (if not more glam)
  • Where here to hold oysters and champagne: needs to be somewhere cold (fridge or on ice, not freezer)
  • What should the layout be: consider how to reduce heavy traffic areas and how many people can comfortably fit
  • What the deal with lighting: should be lit relatively well (the shucker needs light)

PartyChampagne!

Oysters

We were fortunate enough to have W&T Seafood supply our oysters, as their products are the bomb. **Update: W&T Seafood now has an online oyster shop, but you still have to pick them up from Williamsburg.** They offer a wide range of West Coast oysters.

  • Quantity: estimate 6 oysters per person on average, but 12 oysters per person if you know there are plenty of oyster lovers in the room
  • Variety: start with at least 1 East and 1 West coast kind (best to have two from each coast: e.g., British Columbia, Washington, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts); it is best to ask about what’s good—as they will vary from week to week
  • Who’s going to shuck them all??? Hiring a shucker will vary in cost from $30/hr to $1/piece; have the shucker arrive one to half-an-hour prior to the party to set up and start shucking
  • Where to shuck: a kitchen (sink and counter) is an ideal place to set up the shucker
  • Condiments to supply: we had lemons, limes (makes for good decor too), mignonette sauce, and hot sauce; we also brought out some creme fraiche and caviar for extra indulgence!

At our party, we had 5 varieties:

East Dennis (MA) — bright and briny, the East Coast crowd pleaser
Moonstone (RI) — largest of the East, medium salinity, grassy and lemony notes, hearty texture
Chunu (VA) — mild and petite, a bit of a wallflower compared to the others
Pacific (WA) — big and bold, ultra creamy, sweet, and vegetal notes
Effingham (BC) — sweet and salty, creamy and crisp, the West Coast (and overall) favorite

Oyster Table

Champagnes

Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to? We did some research on what types of champagnes pair best with oysters and came across these helpful articles: herehere and here.

  • Quantity: estimate 1/2 to 1 bottle per person
  • Variety: see links above; we decided to offer 4 different types of champagne… but honestly, i don’t think people were too fussy about having variety
  • Who’s going to pop the bubbly??? We went ahead and made it “self-serve,” but having a designated bartender that can help explain the champagnes would add a nice classy touch

SlurpGlassware

Other Party Items

While the party’s focus is on oysters and bubbles, there should definitely be other nibbles and beverages offered.

  • Alternative food options: veggies, dips, and a lot of carbs (e.g., bread, pita plate, chips)
  • Non-alcoholic beverage options: punch, ginger ale, juice, ice water
  • Champagne flutes: 1 champagne flute per person, but have a few extras on hand just in case; if you have no desire to keep the flutes after the party, you can also give them away as party favors
  • Special utensils: have cocktail forks available, but encourage the classic “slurping” technique (see below)
  • Oyster containers: stainless steel pots and pans added some cool depth to the oyster set up; we also substituted ice with rice & rock salt–less messy, no refreshing required
  • Trash: don’t overlook the importance of accessible disposal bins! We used a large stainless steel bowl for shells
  • Instructions: we decided to have educational “tasting” cards that gave a little background about each oyster (didn’t have any for champagnes, but that would also be helpful), as well as a tasters guide that included instructions on how to conduct a tasting and a grid to keep tasting notes (make sure to have golf pencils on hand)
  • Music: make sure to set the playlist up prior to the party
  • Decor: we thought it best to keep it simple (less logistics) and just grabbed a few bundles of fresh flowers

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance/need of conducting a quick and swift clean up too. Oyster shells, no matter how fresh, will start to smell a bit funky after being out for too long.

Moonstone Oysters

Cost

These ballparks will naturally vary depending on the scale and scope of the party. For estimating purposes, I would be as conservative as possible.

Basic assumptions:
Apartment/house party
20 guests
3 hours

Venue: free (someone’s house/apartment)

Oysters: $180 (20 guests x 6 pieces x $1.50 per piece)

Champagne: $400 (20 guests x 1/2 bottle x $40 per bottle)

Other food & drink: $100

Utensils & condiments: $20

Shucker: $150 (3 hours at $50/hour)

Total: $850

With a reasonable level of confidence, I estimate that given a $900 budget, you should be able to throw a decent (while straightforward) shindig for 20 people. To help keep costs down, ask friends to bring chilled champagne bottles to contribute to the party.

More ambitious assumptions:
Apartment/house party
20 guests
3 hours

Venue: free (someone’s house/apartment)

Oysters: $360 (20 guests x 12 pieces x $1.50 per piece)

Champagne: $800 (20 guests x 1 bottle x $40 per bottle)

Other food & drink: $200

Utensils & condiments: $50

Shucker: $150 (3 hours at $50/hour)

Decor & equipment: $100

Total: $1,660

ShuckingSo Many Choices

Tasting Instructions

If you’re going to have oyster newbies at your party, it’s probably a good idea to give them a little guidance on what to do. Below is a bit of copy that I wrote for our tasting guide. Feel free to borrow 🙂

How to conduct an oyster and champagne pairing:
  1. Similar to tasting wine, first smell the champagne’s aroma. Then take a small sip and observe its flavors.
  2. Use a small fork or your finger to gently release the oyster from its shell to ensure smooth slurpage.
  3. Raise the oyster shell to your lips, tilt back, sip the liquor and let the oyster slide into your mouth.
  4. Chew the oyster for the full flavor and texture experience. The longer you chew, the more sweetness and flavors you’ll discover.
  5. Before or after swallowing the oyster, take another small sip of champagne. Swirl the bubbles around in your mouth and observe how the flavors work with each other.
  6. Repeat using the same champagne with another type of oyster.
Rating system:
  • Write down a “+” if you think that the oyster and champagne pair well together
  • Write down a “0” if you think that the oyster and champagne are neutral together
  • Write down a “-” if you think that the oyster and champagne don’t go well together
  • Also write down tasting notes or reasons why you have the ratings that you do

Tasting Notes

Remember to Enjoy!

Party planning can be stressful and overwhelming. During the event, make sure to enjoy yourself! (Otherwise, what was the party really for?) Our party turned out brilliantly. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the oysters and champagne. We even persuaded a few oyster newbies and non-believers to try a piece or two! Weeks later, I still hear about the “epic-ness” of the party from my friends. Now that’s a sign of a good time. 🙂

Well, I hope that you enjoyed reading this post and now are inspired to throw your own oyster & champagne party! If you have other ideas or tips on how to make such a party an even bigger success, please share them in the comments section! Also feel free to ask any questions that you might have.

Happy shucking!

 

Credits:
Photos by Julie Qiu Photography (check out the entire Flickr album here)
Oyster tasting cards and instructional guide designed by Chavelli