Was I surrounded by the skyscrapers of Manhattan or afloat on a refined, wood-paneled yacht? It turns out that to experience luxury dining at sea, you don’t need to step off land, you just need to step into Lure Fish Bar. In the bustling heart of Soho, the NY Oyster Lovers Meetup group gathered for an oyster-themed dinner, carefully designed by chef Ryan Schmidtberger to highlight some of the season’s best bivalves. Energy was running high, as Meetup members welcomed old friends and new.
We kicked off the dinner with oysters from opposite ends of North America: Kusshis from British Columbia and Beausoleils from New Brunswick. Kusshi means “precious” in Japanese, the perfect moniker for this petite, ruffled oyster that gets tumbled twice a day, resulting in a smooth, deep shell. Beausoleils—meaning “beautiful sun” in French—are no less charming. They have a light, refined flavor that makes for a great starter oyster.
One of the best ways to learn about new oysters is to taste them raw and dressed. So, alongside their unadorned counterparts, we were presented with a Kusshi jazzed up with daikon, jalapeno and ponzu, and a Beausoleil dressed with pineapple salsa. “What a great contrast in flavors and textures!” my dining companions exclaimed.
Next, the appetizer trio arrived, featuring three distinctly different oysters: a briny Blue Point, a sweet and buttery Kumamoto, and the infamously metallic Belon. Chef Ryan displayed his finesse at Asian fusion, serving the Blue Point with Thai slaw and a graham cracker crust, while the tempura-battered Kumamoto was served in a maki roll. The potato-crusted Belon sat on top of a juicy slice of pork belly, topped with kimchi aioli. Move over steak and lobster tails; oysters and pork belly ought to be the new surf and turf.
For the entrée, we were presented with a beautifully composed plate, a flaky lemon sole fillet wrapped around Rockefeller spinach, citrus hollandaise and in the center, an Island Creek oyster. The waters in Duxbury, MA are known for their salt content, and this oyster definitely did not hold back in its brininess. Underneath, a thick piece of bacon added a touch of smokiness and brought everything together. Our plates were licked clean in minutes.
But wait, there was one more course to come, a dessert that pastry chef Katie McAllister had been experimenting on for weeks. We were presented with a chocolate oyster, each uniquely molded from an oyster shell, with chocolate mousse and passion fruit mignonette inside. The oyster shell was even carefully hand-painted with edible mother-of-pearl lacquer to make it shimmer like an authentic oyster shell. I was stunned at the meticulous design and artistic expression that had gone into this dish; it was truly a masterpiece. When she popped out of the kitchen to say hi, we gave chef McAllister a thunderous ovation.
What a fantastic evening of culinary excellence and great company! Thank you so much to Chef Ryan and the staff at Lure Fish Bar for making this evening a resounding success. Needless to say, everyone left happy and excited to get together for next month’s Meetup!
For more info on future NY Oyster Lovers Meetups, join us at: http://www.meetup.com/New-York-Oyster-Lovers/