Lot Twenty: A Lesson in Oysters & Whisky (Invited)
There was a myth that said we should only eat oysters in a month with the letter ‘r’ in it. Not exactly sure why but I'm glad since December was one of the perfect months to enjoy the oysters (and it has the letter ‘r’). There were oysters from four different regions that we tried last night:
- SA pacific oysters
- Tasmanian pacific oysters
- NSW rock oysters
- Albany rock oysters – Bonus
Jerry was very friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about his oysters especially, since he’s been shucking oysters for the past 35 years. The first course was oysters with beetroot granita, espresso foam and just natural pure Albany rock oysters. Jerry explained that the Albany rock oysters’ farm was closed and won’t be opened until the following 6 months but he managed to get his hands on some due to a function that he ran on the weekend (yay!). The mini palate cleanser that we got was a very delicious down to earth root vegetables with buckwheat pancake.
With the first course, we were also presented with knowledge about the Connemara Peated Irish Single Malt whiskey by Bill which was quite light and sweet in flavour (compared to the other 3 that I tried later on). Bill also showed us how to taste the whisky properly by swirl the glass, bringing our glass to the same level as our nose, opening our mouth and sniffing it to get more of the aroma. Then we took a sip, chew the whisky and let the flavour hit.
Jerry said that he shucked about 6000 oysters per week which explained how his shucking skill looked so eloquent compared to mine! With his yellow thimble and oyster knife, Jerry showed us how to shuck an oyster properly. We were shown the knife that we had to use, how to find the sweet spot on the beak area, popped open the oyster, ran our blade throughout the rooftop of the shell and flipped the oyster so it looked presentable. It was easier to write the steps than actually doing it! I ended up mutilating my oyster instead…poor little guy
One of the most important thing that Jerry taught us was that freshness was paramount in the oysters and oysters need to be shucked after orders were placed as each was still alive until the adductor muscle got cut off.
Our second course came right away after Megan and I finished our oyster shucking class. All three cold smoked oysters came accompanied with sashimi salmon with vanilla oil and baby mache. We took a sip of our Bowmore 12YO whisky which was smokier than Connemara Irish whiskey and matched really well with the raw salmon sashimi!
We were then served natural oysters from different regions with fresh cucumber jelly which was paired with a glass of Laphroaig 10YO. Laphroaig brought with it a heavier smoky flavour of the malt that was dried over peat fire and we drank it neat. This whisky would be perfect for a cooler weather and was most bloggers’ preferred whisky of the night. Bill explained about how he went to the Laphroaig distillery in Islay, Scotland and gave us the background information on how waves crashed onto the wall of the distillery throughout all the days in a year (yep, all 365 days).
I took a sip and immediately tasted the smoky woody flavour, which was quite pleasant. Bill said that the wood of the barrel will affect the flavour of the whiskey. Some barrels can also be made from a combination of wood such as 30% white oak and 70% red oak. This whisky went down really well with the maple glazed bacon!
We had another surprise of the creamy Albany rock oyster on the fourth course and when surveyed, everyone’s favourite was the Albany rock oyster with sweet, rich and soft creamy flavour. In the photo above you can also see a creative twist of whisky sorbet served in oyster shell that we couldn't get enough of!
Our oysters were paired together with triple distilled whisky with the name that was quite challenging to pronounce: Auchentoshan. Auchentoshan 12YO was a light whisky but I felt that it was less rich than the Laphroaig that I previously tasted.
Jerry explained that one oyster can filter about 30L of water per day and because oysters are filter feeders, we could taste the surrounding area of where the oysters were farmed from. It was very interesting because in one of the oysters (NSW) I could taste the strong mineral explosion in it.
Next time you go to a restaurant, ask the server where they got their oysters from and hopefully it’d fulfil your curiosity to try some oysters from different region. I think if I’m allowed I could eat more than a dozen oysters that night especially with all the health benefits that oysters bring.
I didn’t finish all of the whiskies because I had to drive home alone but it was a very satisfying event where I gained a wealth of knowledge from the King of Oysters’ passion, Bill’s experiences on the crafts of whisky making, and a fun get together with other female Perth bloggers.