Oysters in Boston & my Cucumber Mignonette

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I adore oysters, and while we’re coming up on the mythical non-oyster season (months without the letter “R” in it), I tend to still gravitate to them in the warm weather months regardless. There’s just something about sitting by the sea with a pint or a crisp white wine while slurping down a few tastes of the sea. Mmm… perfection!

I know I’m not alone, as the flocks of tourists to New England will be on the hunt for great fish, lobster, clams and, yes, oysters. Tourists don’t pay attention to seasonality. They want perfect seafood during their New England vacation week, whether it’s fresh and local or not. I can’t blame them, so thought it’d be helpful if I share my favorite places for oysters (regardless of season), and encourage them (and you) to pick up your own bivalves for your next party.

My favorite oyster spots in Boston:

  • B&G Oysters – A delicious spot by local celebrity chef Barbara Lynch. While you’re there, also try the lobster B.L.T.
  • Neptune Oyster – A touch off the beaten path in Boston’s famous Italian section, the North End. This place feels very intimate and luxurious, especially if you go for one of the raw bar “plateau” dishes, a towering sculpture of ice and seafood.
  • East Coast Grill – Make your own Bloody Mary bar served alongside a raw bar. Enough said.

While I love to eat out, I much prefer to have friends over for dinner. And nowadays, I tend to always serve luscious local oysters because they’re easy and always impressive. Once you get the hang of prying them open, or have a sturdy partner who will do that for you, half the work is done! At a dollar a piece, there really is no better deal or no reason not to try it just once.

I typically make a cucumber mignonette to serve alongside. I like the cool cucumber, tart vinegar and fresh herbs against the briny ocean taste. This recipe can be altered as you see fit, omitting the ginger or switching out the herbs for whatever you have on hand.

Cucumber Mignonette

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, cored and minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped fresh herbs (cilantro or basil work well)
  • Several turns freshly ground black pepper

Mix all these items together in a bowl. Encourage guests to spoon a little into their oyster just before they toss them back. I also always put out a little horseradish and homemade cocktail sauce. The spicier the better!

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