Muscadet Sèvre et Maine + Oysters
Can you believe it’s September already? We haven’t forgotten about you. We’ve been enjoying lots of food and drink since our last post but we’ve had so many opportunities to enjoy life these past months it’s been more about living in the moment than writing and reflecting on it.
The world’s been our oyster. A trip to France, a 4-day foray into the New York food scene, family holidays including campfire cooking, recipe testing and food styling for a cookbook and an exciting new contract food styling for a major food company.
It’s been a bit busy…er than usual
September always feels like the beginning of a new year without the anticipation and disappointment of abandoned resolutions. The kids are back to school. The routine is somewhat routine. With a few moments of time for ourselves, we wanted to indulge in a little celebration of getting things back on track. Nothing too strenuous. We’re not even turning on the stove and yep it’s decidedly adult friendly. I’m sure some kids out there like oysters (we’re thinking East Coasters and the French) but ours don’t. Too bad, more for us.
There is an old saying ‘oysters are best eaten in months ending in er’. Thank goodness it’s Septemb-er! As the water gets colder and spawning season is over, the oysters thrive and taste better.
Oysters are a wonder food. They are naturally nutritious, full of protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and chock full of vitamin C. Add a little aphrodisiac power in there….what’s not to like? Treat yourself and splurge. When most oysters ring in at about a buck a piece, forgo the classic oysters and Champagne pairing. Here’s a pearl of wisdom; buy more oysters and spend less on good wine. Oysters and Muscadet are an inseparable duo. Wonder why they make such a great couple? It’s kind of like the classic tale of the girl next door….what grows together goes together.
did you know…
- Oysters have been enjoyed for thousands of years; evidence of oyster middens containing shells from oysters that had been harvested date back 2200 to 1000 years ago
- In the early 19th century oysters were cheap and mainly eaten by the working class
- Oysters filter water more efficiently than a Brita Filter; each one can filter up from 30 to 50 gallons of water a day
- There are only five species of oysters but hundreds of regional varieties, each taking on unique flavours depending on where they are found
- Just outside Bordeaux this past weekend 8,500 participants ran in Le Marathon du Medoc and were cheered on with wine and oysters. Participants ran from chateau to chateau for 26 miles, stopping to taste wine and slurp oysters along the way. It’s the longest, slowest and tastiest marathon in the world!
A crash course on how to shuck an oyster
Competitive oyster shuckers can shuck up to a whopping 38 per minute. Don’t be intimidated. You may break a few shells but the reward is worth the effort.
Opening an oyster requires a special oyster knife which has a short, wide blade. Insert the blade and with moderate force twist the blade at the hinge between the two valves. You may feel a slight pop. Slide the blade upwards and cut the abductor muscle which holds the shell closed. Best to shuck the oysters on a tray so you can collect all that delicious oyster liquor.
We were fortunate to score a dozen fresh Beausoliel oysters straight from New Brunswick. These farmed oysters come from the Miramichi Bay, located on the west coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They are a great starting point for those just beginning to enjoy oysters. Beausoliel oysters are light, delicate with just a whiff of yeasty bready aromas.
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine + Oysters
Prepare assorted toppings:
classic mignonette (cracked pepper, shallot and vinegar)
freshly grated horseradish
lemon chive gelée (recipe follows)
Our favourite combination was horseradish and hot sauce. It was unanimous!
for the lemon chive gelée:
2 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp water
1 cup soda water
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp minced chives
- Heat the gelatin and water in a small saucepan and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
- Stir in the soda water.
- Add the lemon zest and chives.
- Pour into a small baking pan or loaf pan that you have lined with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate until the gelatin has set.
- To serve, remove the set gelée using the plastic wrap to lift.
- Cut into small cubes and serve on freshly shucked oysters.
what we chose to pair and why
The pure, clean flavours of Muscadet made it a perfect choice for oysters. The wine is like a sharp squeeze of lemon.
- pale straw colour
- briny, salty, yeasty aromas (like the sea)
- citrusy, green apple and pear flavours
- light and crisp with a spritzy freshness
- the oysters were so fresh and reminiscent of the sea
- clean, mineral, natural fresh sea water with a subtle salinity
- the horseradish and hot sauce highlighted the natural sweetness of the oysters perfectly
Gadais Père et Fils
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Vielles Vignes 2013
Muscadet is a bone dry, light bodied white wine from the Loire Valley of France, made with Melon de Bourgogne grapes. It’s an excellent food wine due to its mineral, crisp, citrusy flavours and high acidity.
These grapes come from old vine vineyards, an average 80 years old (Vielles Vignes means old vines)
The wine spent 14 months sur lie, meaning the wine is aged on suspended dead yeast particles (lees) for a period of time, before bottling, which adds a creamy texture and yeasty flavour. Obviously the longer on the lees, the richer the texture. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration.
Like a good friend…we are just trying to push you outside of your comfort zone.
Live a little and expand your palate.
Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers
After 10 years as a restaurateur, culinary instructor and caterer, a trip to France sparked an untapped enthusiasm for all things wine. I gave up the restaurant life, made a huge u-turn and dove head first into the vast world of wine. I have never looked back and achieved my Sommelier certification with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers in 2015. I love sharing my pursuit of the perfect pairing in a fun, unfussy and ultimately delicious way with my friends, family and those I teach.
Red Seal Chef, Culinary Instructor
I graduated from the Stratford Chefs School in 1999 and achieved Red Seal Certification shortly thereafter. With this strong foundation laid, an opportunity to spend time in California presented itself. While there, I was intoxicated by the seasonality and quality of the ingredients everywhere I looked. This experience proved to be a turning point for me in how I thought about food. It inspired me to have a deep and enduring respect for the people, food and culture that go into the perfect dish.