“EATING A RAW OYSTER IS LIKE FRENCH KISSING A MERMAID.”Tom Robbins
Sometime early May of 2013, I met Bryan at Reef for what was to be our second date. Our first was an innocent little lunch date in the heights that included tasty food and a bottle of rose on the patio at Dry Creek and then shopping for an antique chair for my daughter’s new desk. This date, however, was a little different. I arrived at Reef at 9pm, definitely not a typical second date start. In my past experience, most dates started well before 9pm. This would be my first experience as a restaurant widow, and would quickly become the norm.
I sat at the bar, alone, and texted Bryan to let him know I was there. Within minutes, he came out of the kitchen, dressed in his chef’s coat (um, hello!) and had brought with him, a plate of… oysters. He excitedly started rattling off all the facts about these particular oysters.
So, there I sat, listening to this handsome chef who wouldn’t shut up about oysters and all I could think was, “what the hell am I going to do!?” Where they were from, I didn’t care. Who had harvested them, I still didn’t care. What they had named them, seriously, I still didn’t care. I was at the crossroads, where the chef and owner of this amazing restaurant was my date… and he had served me just about the ickiest thing I could have imagined.
I had absolutely zero desire to eat an oyster and had avoided the slimy little mollusks for 32 years. Happily, I might add. I believed them to be possible food assassins based on the occasional person in the news who died from eating one. Beside that, I just felt they were pretty much disgusting. Not to mention they looked slimy.
Tick tock… What do I do!?
I couldn’t send them back, what if he found out!? I didn’t want to hurt his feelings he was so excited when he brought them out, explaining the details of where they were from and what they would taste like.
Tick tock… Ugh… I really didn’t want to eat the nasty little buggers in a half shell.
Maybe, I could wrap them up in a napkin and stow them away in my bag…. but what if the bartender saw and told him. Plus could you imagine if some of the oyster goo leaked in my bag!? Ewwwww….
Not wanting to look like an amateur, I picked one up, topped it with the accompanying mignonette and horseradish, stared it down, which seemed like an eternity and then down the hatch it went. At first, I tasted a slight twinge of a metallic and then an instant wash of the sea with what I could only describe as a sweet after splash. I was instantly transported back to the gulf coast and my years as a kid, vacationing with my family at the beach in Galveston. The times when I was just off the beach and would accidentally swallow the water as I tried to surf the very un-surfable waves.
Guess what!? I didn’t die. Even better, I actually liked the slimy little bugger looking thing in a shell. So began my love affair… with oysters. <—– you totally thought I was going to say Bryan, didn’t you!?
Over the last several years, we have enjoyed many different types of oysters as they arrive in the restaurant. One of my favorites are the Port Aux Pines while Bryan’s, are the Murder Points, both from Alabama. They are the perfect start to a meal… or sometimes just a great bar snack. Which begs the question, what are we drinking with our oysters!?
Rosé. Our preference is that they usually have bubbles as well.
The slight acidity in the wine, balances out the fatty, often briny, oysters, creating a lovely balance of flavors when pairing the two. Plus, our first date, was one filled with Rosé… so we obviously have a close relationship with that tasty pink libation and sip it often. Some of our favorites are Miraval Rose (pictured below), Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour, Ruinart Brut Rosé, Taittinger Prestige Brut Rose… the list goes on.
Here’s the fun part for those of you who live here in Houston… Reef will be running a happy hour special starting on Monday, August 29th for a week. Come in that week and in the bar, we will be offering oysters at a $1.25/ea when you purchase a bottle of Miraval Rose from 4-7pm. Sounds like the makings of a great start to date night or even meeting some friends before dinner! The details will be announced by Monday.
***Also, because I can foresee the emails coming in regarding the beautiful oyster knife featured in the images below. The knife, hand crafted by Williams Knife Co., has a handle made from crushed oyster shells and is incredibly beautiful and well made. We met Chris Williams, the owner, when we were invited to the Garden and Gun Jubilee where Bryan was one of the chefs for their dinner. Chris is very kind and generous, honestly I need to do a full post on his knifes as we have several now and have gifted them as well. If you are ever looking for a well crafted knife, you have to buy one of his. If Garden and Gun Magazine named the knives one of their favorite things, you know they are amazing!