Words About Town

Bivalve Renaissance

Saved from the brink of extinction by aquaculture, oysters are the old/new appetizer du jour.

By Melissa Fields January 1, 2016 Published in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Park City Magazine

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Oysters with Hogwash, Powder at Waldorf Astoria

Why are oysters—which we’ve been harvesting since before the Mayflower—suddenly the it thing? Sure, they pair well with craft cocktails, and yes, gluten has now become diet enemy numero uno, but neither fact explains the Oyster Moment, a.k.a. cocktail hour, at which they are the nibble of choice these days. Light and full of flavor, oysters manage to feel simultaneously civilized and decadent when eaten raw on the half shell. Packed with vitamins, low in fat, and high in protein, they are also an appetizer you can feel much better about noshing than the typical cheese or charcuterie board. And thanks to the East Coast’s exploding oyster farming aquaculture, consumers no longer need eat the mollusks only during R months.

Zane Holmquist, corporate chef and vice president of food and beverage at Stein Eriksen Lodge (7700 Stein Way, steinlodge.com), orders oysters several times a month during the winter season—primarily from Maine—for special dishes and occasions. Just like wine, oysters have their own terroir—how they taste depends largely on where and how they are produced. “Each farm we source from produces oysters with unique characteristics, from size and shell texture to flavor,” Holmquist says. “An oyster in one location can be vastly different from one harvested just 20 miles away.”

The Blind Dog (1251 Kearns Blvd, blinddogpc.com) also takes great pride in its bivalves. “We don’t serve oysters because of a fad or craze. They are part of our family heritage,” says owner and Delaware native Penn Kinsey. “My family once had one of the largest oyster processing facilities in the world. They are our religion, and lemon is our sacramental wine.” Blind Dog serves oysters raw, fried, in sliders, stewed, naked, grilled, and steamed. But its most popular presentation, by far, is the Buck a Shuck Happy Hour, where guests can eat their fill of fresh, raw oysters from 5 to 6 p.m. daily for just a dollar apiece.

Other oyster-friendly locales include Deer Valley’s Mariposa and Seafood Buffet restaurants (deervalley.com), Riverhorse on Main (après and dinner, riverhorsepark
), and Powder at the Waldorf Astoria Park City (après and dinner, parkcitywaldorfastoria.com), among others.

So go ahead and order a hipster-approved half-dozen oysters at your next post-slope repast. You won’t regret it when you pull on your ski pants the next morning, or—perhaps—when you pull them off the night before. Oysters are aphrodisiacs, after all, or so we hear.

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