Oysters are not only mineral-packing powerhouses, but they are the perfect Valentine’s Day indulgence, best shared over a bottle of bubbly

by Chef Peter Botros

French Champagne has long been one of oyster’s perfect liquid pairings. Its dry, bready flavor profile adds depth while the bubbly effervescence serves as a satisfying contrast to an oyster’s smooth, creamy texture. But if you don’t want to pop open a bottle of Dom every time you shuck a few shells, try Freixenet Cordon Negro Extra Dry, an earthy Spanish cava that retails for less than $15 but pairs just as well as many of its pricier French counterparts.

A tangy mignonette is an oyster’s best friend, and at Violette’s Cellar, we do a twist on the traditional accoutrement that’s inspired by Vietnamese dipping sauce. The recipe is simple, fresh, and delicious. Scoop a small dollop onto the oyster for a crisp, slightly spicy kick.

1 cup finely chopped English cucumber
¼ finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
DIRECTIONS: Simply mix all of the above and serve!

The lauded oyster is one of the best gifts from the sea, a nutrient powerhouse and excellent source of vitamin D, copper, zinc, and manganese. It’s also a famed aphrodisiac, so if you’re searching for a star of your Valentine’s Day meal, consider freshly shucked oysters on a bed of ice, paired with a bottle of bubbly and Sinatra on vinyl. For more than 4,000 years, chefs have been following the “R” rule for oyster preparation, meaning the best time to enjoy the briny clams are during months that contain the letter R, or September through April, when the oysters are their freshest.

Cellini Spread

Like a fine wine, oysters vary in taste, size, and texture depending on where they’re from, and the U.S. has two primary types: East Coast and West Coast oysters. The West Coast yields sweeter and plumper varieties housed in a round ruffed shell with a deeper cut. East Coast oysters, on the other hand, are teardrop shaped and usually have a saltier flavor profile and chewier texture. Not a fan of raw oysters? Give fried oysters a try. At Sally’s Southern, we fry Briar patch Oysters from Connecticut and serve them with roasted tomato relish and saffron aioli.