It’s amazing how receptive our pallet becomes to new foods as we get older. I remember many a mommy/daughter lunch/dinner seafood dates. She’d order her crab leg entree with a glass (or two) of Leibfamilch. I’d order something less mature with an N/A Shirley Temple. Mom would often order raw oysters. She had to have offered them to me and convinced me to try them for me to determine I despise them. For one they’re raw, slimy, sea tasting, salty and just too grown up for my adolescent taste. Everything I’ve grown to love about them now. I don’t remember which particular experience was pivotal and set me on a quest to taste every distinct oyster I’d ever come across.
Before setting out on the raw oyster siege, I told myself I’d try them cooked in every other fashion I could find them. I tired them baked in Oysters Rockefeller. I tried them boiled in Seafood Gumbo. I even attempted the blasphemous deep fried oyster. After adding all of these notches to my belt, the purest in me was left unsatisfied until I could fairly write them off for good. I had to at least understand if I didn’t enjoy REAL oysters. LOL
At some point my love for all things seafood had me return to the idea that perhaps I needed to give these delicacies a fair adult shot. I’d only seen mom eat these either from mid-level seafood franchise restaurants or from a plastic semi clear containers from he grocer’s fish department. Were these fresh? Were they safe? Where they distributed in mass quantities, preserved and not freshly shucked the way I’d seen locals enjoy them in the Florida pan handle? Was I missing out on an obvious rarely appreciated aphrodisiac? I was too curious and my inner foodie FOMO had reached new heights. I lived further east now. After leaving Texas and returning to the midwest. I was dining in fresh fish houses that listed oysters from all over the coast. Some even from Canada. I was more than intrigued. Could their origins somehow dictate the character and taste of the mollusks? The hunt began.
What better way to start my hunt than to search the world wide web for critical reviews of “The best oysters”. In 2012, all searches led to Cape Cod Massachusetts. I searched every high end seafood restaurant menu in the metro Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the acclaimed half shelled “Wellfleet” oyster. I moved from Texas to the midwest shortly after. It wasn’t until I moved further east to New Jersey, that I decided if I couldn’t find Wellfleets, I’d explore oyster bars and seafood restaurant raw bars for the most briny and fresh oysters and take note of where they were from and my opinion of them all. Before leaving my beloved New Jersey, I checked out a local spot: Jockey Hollow in Morristown. The raw bar menu was extensive and slightly intimidating. I ordered 3 choice oysters. I regret not taking note of exactly what these were.