Martinis, Oysters & One Crucial Rule
For those of us not brave enough for the Whole 30 cleanse or a Dry January the new year brings a challenge, and not just finding someone to throw back a snort with. Even if you aren’t on some demonic cleanse, you probably are sick of heavy, rich holiday foods. The season is like that, dripping in butter, memories and the fact that you are morphing into your own body pillow.
For the answer, look South, young man.
After a last-minute trip to New Orleans last month, and a long lingering birthday dinner at Galatoire’s, I was reminded that the French have oysters for Christmas dinner. Yes, we all hate France – my middle name is Jaubert and I can’t entirely disagree – but why? Was it the Nazi business? That was pretty bad, but it was in 1940. In 1945, we dropped not one, but two, atomic bombs on Japan and we all get along just fine these days. Is it because they are really just a nation of garden variety twits masquerading as enigmatic philosophers? Again, a fair point, but have you ever met an American undergraduate? Or their professor? Have you ever been on Twitter?
Still, people get funny about tinkering with the Christmas menu, so save the oysters for the after-party. By that I mean January. They aren’t heavy, they are hardly food at all. If you press the water out of 108 oysters you get something the size of a chicken tender. It’s a long story how I know this, but I did lose the bet. Best of all, if you aren’t French, you haven’t thought of this before. For something more substantial, if you aren’t sick of the grill, charbroil them. To wit:
1 dozen freshly shucked Oysters
8 oz butter
2 Tbls finely chopped garlic
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup parmesan & romano cheese, grated
2 tsp flat leaf parsley
Pinch dried oregano
Mix butter, garlic pepper & oregano. Place oysters on the half shell on flattest part. Spoon enough of seasoned butter over oysters so some will drip into fire and flame up. If in oven, 3500F
Oysters are ready when they puff up & get curly on the edges – about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, serve with French bread.
The question then remains, what to drink? Normally with oysters I’d go for a crisp, dry white: Muscadet or one of the white Boudreaux that makes you think you just licked a piece of granite. Can’t go wrong with a beer, but keep it simple. You’ve got a big, smoked flavor in all that brine.
It is January, so you are still in a whisky mood, but not here. The cocktail play here in the martini – dry, bracingly cold with a long curling twist of lemon. Hold the olive this time, you’ll get enough salty in the brine. Use Vodka if that’s the way you make a see-thru, but I don’t get it.
Understand that the vermouth does serve a purpose, here, think of it as a supporting role. And remember to refrigerate your vermouth after opening! It will keep for about a month. The reason everyone hates the stuff is they’ve only had rancid vermouth. At any rate, try 5:1 ratio gin to vermouth, or if you like them really dry, 8:1. And this is going to be easier and more consistent if you make them in batches.
Be warned, if you are drinking alone, and you mix a pitcher of four martini’s things might go sideways. Remember: martinis are like breasts one is not enough, three is too many. Four are spectacular, but you will get into trouble.