They say oysters are an aphrodisiac. Like figs, dark chocolate and red wine. Right now, I’m hot for oysters. But I want ‘em cold, raw, fresh—to pump up my libido after heartbreak burned me before the sweaty “dog days” of summer even had their chance. I’m not usually the biggest fan of raw oysters (shoot me if I really like them fried best), but I think it’s supposed to be the key to their sexual potency, so I decided to pursue the slimy version. No expert here, I needed to employ some help.
Ironically, the only expert and absolute adorer of raw oysters I know is an ex-boyfriend of mine. Not that one. My ex and I are now friends in the best of ways. And by “best” I mean worst at staying out of bed when we just get together to catch up over a cup of coffee. So in case the seafood didn’t produce the intended effect, I knew I would be assured a good flirt, or more, just by seeing him.
After a round or two (or twenty, but who’s counting?) of emails back and forth, we met up for a little oyster tasting session at a city landmark, then an “Oyster-Shooter Hour,” and finally, a perennial late night favorite.
First stop was the Manhattan classic: Grand Central Terminal’s Oyster Bar. According to an article in the Times last month about Long Island oysters (i.e. Blue Points), the local suckers are highly sought after (and still not cheap) in NYC restaurants because of their deliciousness and proximity. Since they’re fished between Fire Island and the Long Island Shore, these are as close as New Yorkers will get to homegrown pearl producers. At GC, we sampled the Blue Points from the extensive oyster menu. Grazing them first with a spoonful of cocktail or mignonette sauce (expert Ex cautiously advised me to go heavy on sauce). I was unimpressed. Opting instead to unmask the ocean brine and compliment it with a simple spritz of lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt, I discovered the oyster’s meaty, full-bodied essence. It was a swimming succession of flavors: the oyster, the lemon, the salt, the sea.
I wasn’t scouting with an amateur, so next we headed to a place he frequents because they promise, “happy hour doesn’t have to mean just beer anymore.” We cabbed it to Ed’s Lobster Bar, for a dozen East Coast oysters and two flutes of champagne for $40 during their happy hour. These babies were Peconics and Beau Soleil; I guess they were good. Frankly, once I started drinking champagne I didn’t need any other aphrodisiacs on the table to start reminiscing about my ex’s expertise at sucking things besides oysters. At that point, I realized I needed to balance the head spinning oyster-ness of the evening with some land-based food, but he wanted more and more sea flavor, so our last stop was Blue Ribbon. There I made up for the evening’s lack of batter up to that point by ordering the familiar fried chicken; he stuck with classic Kumamotos. We both drank more. By this time, it was clear our “happy hour” experiment had turned into a late night with great potential to get later still before we parted ways.
Stepping outside I reflected on my experiment. I still didn’t LOVE the raw suckers, but they weren’t half bad. And during the summer heat it was refreshing to have something cold slide down my throat and remind me of—er, the ocean. I left Blue Ribbon satisfied that I’d performed my oyster research in an efficient and educated manner, and I’d confirmed that I could charge my sex drive by charming an ex. Hailing a cab, I gave him “the look” and let it set in. As I watched him lean towards getting in the cab with me, I purred, “Thanks for a great night, you were so much help, talk soon!” and flashed him my winning smile.
In the end, I left him cold and raw on the sidewalk alone; it really is the classier way to enjoy oysters and exes.