Thursday, November 05, 2009


This did not go as expected.  And, except for portioning problems (sorry, hon), I really can't take any blame for it.
I had gotten the oysters shucked, because it's a high-risk enterprise unless you know what you're doing.  I don't.  Hindsight prompts me to say that I should've risked a finger or two.  The shucking fisherman put the oysters, which were now resting on their half-shells, into two styrofoam containers, the kind that you might get take-out chicken wings in, which would work perfectly for lunch in the park or to take back to the office.  I wasn't doing either of those things; I was shopping, then taking the F train home.   The last time I had oysters shucked, they were sans shell, and snuggled into a plastic soup container.  Unless you have a personal attendant and a car with great suspension, I strongly recommend that option if you are traveling more than a block or two.
  The oysters got creamed.  In an act of outrageous self-mutilation, the shells, which bounced around in their container exactly like chicken wings, cut the oysters to shreds.  The mollusk gloop was clinging to the sides of the containers, the tops of shells, and itself.  It was not pretty, not at all.
  I scooped the contents of each container onto a paper plate, not noticing that one held ten oysters, the other six.  Not my problem. I could barely distinguish one injured bit of oyster from another.
  No worries, though.  Once they're hit with sherry and butter and cream, who'll know the difference? 
Into the double boiler they went: 8 oysters (or so I thought); tablespoon butter; dash celery salt; teaspoon Worcestershire sauce; 2 tablespoons sherry; 1/4 cup oyster liquor, except I don't have any oyster liquor because the little bastards must have sweated it off during their exertions in the styrofoam sauna, so I used 1/4 cup salty water and, no, I didn't have any clam juice handy, thanks.  Cook for about a minute, until the oysters start to curl. The state they were in, they could have had a perm for all I know.
  Add one cup half-and-half. Here is where the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Seafood Cookbook let me down with a crash: "Add half-and-half and continue stirring briskly, just to a boil.  Do not boil."
The first thing wrong with this is that if you continue stirring briskly, it is going to take a long, long time to reach a boil.  The second is that there is .00003 of a nanosecond between coming to a boil and boiling.  Reader, I curdled it. 

The finishing pat of butter and dusting of paprika did nothing to disguise that the lovely soup I had hoped to serve bore more than a passing resemblance to small-curd cottage cheese.  Bruce seemed not to notice, but was quick to point out  that he got only six oysters, instead of the promised eight, which meant I had ten.  Which I had already eaten..

I'll make sure he gets two extra from my bowl when we have oyster stew again, something  I'll be sure to remember the next time we pull up a stool at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.  Hey, I don't hold a grudge.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oysters at the Greenmarket!

Headed up to Union Square this afternoon to shop at the farmers market's newest stallholder,Westport Aquaculture, a 150-year-old family business operating out of Connecticut that set up shop at the market only a week ago.  The charming duo of fisherman had brought in a haul of clams, lobster, and oysters, the last of which are available to eat on the spot with a splash of cocktail sauce.  Good as that sounded, I needed more than a few oysters for the oyster stew a la Grand Central that I'm making this evening.  I've never made it; I'll let you know how it goes.

Iceland Gets a Break Today

Via Reuters: Thanks to Iceland's tanking economy, McDonald's is pulling out.  Thousands line up for a final Big Mac.  I'd be happy just to get McDonald's odiferous output off buses and subways.  Sigh.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Luke's Lobster Is Fine by ME

I'm not sure I altogether approve of lobster rolls being available beyond New England (see rant here) but if they are going to take up residence in Manhattan, I'm glad that there are some lobster rolls like those at Luke's Lobster:  Priced like Maine, made like Maine.  The kind you can walk with, and eat two of for lunch. I kinda knew, from the moment I saw the blackboard listing where today's lobster was from, that this was going to be good. 
It was wicked good.  Chunks of claw and knuckle meat, lightly dressed, in a perfectly grilled trad bun.  No fork needed.  Bruce, the man from Maine, wanted to know what happened to the tail and body meat, not to mention the roe and tomalley.  I expect that they'll  turn up in the bisques and stews that are said to be coming soon.

As you can see, the rolls are very lightly dressed, which shows off the lobster nicely.  I would nonetheless have liked more mayonnaise (available upon request), but that may just be my own mayo lust speaking:  I knew for sure that the man from Maine was a keeper when I saw the quart jar of Hellman's in his fridge.

I'm looking forward to going back for a crab roll.  As anyone who knows crabs knows: Maryland's got the rep; Maine's got the crab.

(Luke's Lobster is at 93 East 7th St., bet 1st & A.  Limited seating, but a great many  lobster joints in Maine don't have any seating at all.  Lobster rolls are $14; small ones $8.)

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.