Long before David Foster Wallace's epic Consider the Lobster, there was M.F.K. Fischer's Consider the Oyster. Written in what some postulate was an attempt to cheer herself up while her husband suffered from a weird condition called Buerger's disease (he eventually shot himself, because the pain in his phantom limb was so bad), Fischer's Oyster has been in print since it was first published in 1941.
One of the notions about oysters that Fischer expounds is that the briny bivalves are best eaten during months with 'R's in their names — that is, September to April. Why? Because during the summer, the oysters are breeding (baby oysters are called "spats," in case you were wondering), and they're a little thin. In the fall and winter, oysters are at their meatiest salty-sweet-crisp perfection.
I'm not going to touch on the notion that oysters are an aphrodisiac — my rule on that is if you need a special something to make it happen, it's not going to happen; if it's going to happen anyway, then a little piece of silver sea meat (tasty though it may be) is probably not going to make a difference.
So what exactly should you drink when you're out on the town, slurping back these delicious morsels? A chalky white wine — like a Torrontes — goes well. Roses (with their combination of slight fruitiness and high salinity) also do nicely. And a dry sparkling — particularly a Prosecco — can also knock an oyster out of the park (not that the oyster needs any help, really).
If you're in the market to wine and dine for oysters, there are plenty of places that do it right in Connecticut — a prime oyster-growing region, home of the famed Connecticut Blue Point. (In fact, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture estimates that the oyster farming industry generates $15 million in sales annually and creates 300 jobs — not exactly insignificant in this economy.) From cocktail bars to oyster bars to steakhouses, Connecticut proudly represents one of its best exports.
Where to Eat Oysters
•116 Crown, 116 Crown St., New Haven. (203) 777-3116.
•Liv's Oyster Bar, 166 Main St. #4, Old Saybrook. (860) 395-5577.
•Max's Oyster Bar, 964 Farmmington Ave., Hartford. (860) 236-6299.