It’s been a spectacularly beautiful week in Southern California. Cool. Crisp and oh, so blue. It feels as if you could reach out and touch the snow on the mountaintops. The perfect weather for a walk down the hill to the Hollywood Farmers Market. I was especially excited about the journey because I already knew what seasonal item was first on my list of must eats this week. But how to work it into my Back Burner post was the question. It’s “sauce” week. I could have done a whole post around the joke let’s get “sauced”. After all, I blog (mostly) about booze here. But as funny (and as tempting) as I think that is. It might be a bit beneath the sophisticated allure I try to exude. Besides, I had a hankering for oysters. Oysters are the ultimate bar food. The perfect Tid-Bit or Noshy thing to enjoy with either a cocktail, a nice Chablis or (of course) something bubbly. There’s even a classic sauce to serve with oysters. Problem solved.
I got to thinking about oysters and their sauce when I invited to a press night at Public Kitchen & Bar in the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I am already a big fan of Public Kitchen & Bar, but the lure of a seasonal, sophisticated spread dominated by bi-valves kicked my interest into high gear. They have a large selection of choices which vary daily according to availability. But you can expect to see some combination of Belon, Coromandel, Fanny Bay, Hood Canal, Kumamoto, Malpeque, Phantom Creek, Raspberry Point, Well Fleet, Salt Pond, and Kusshi.
The night I went to preview the menu we were served all sorts of oysters with a classic mignonette sauce. Which is the vinegary companion you would typically see served alongside fresh, raw oysters. Their version was classically sour and loaded with shallots. Very nice. But as I was walking down to the Hollywood Farmers Market this week my mind was churning out other possibilities for a less traditional mignonette sauce. Besides, I wanted something super seasonal, and locally grown. Perhaps even something sweetly unexpected to contrast the tang of vinegar and the brine of the very good oysters I knew I would find at the market.
It did not take long to settle on sweet, crunchy Asian pears. They are still in season here, and I am looking for exciting new ways to enjoy them. I recall seeing pickled Asian pears in the Momofuku cookbook and I took my inspiration from there. But I wanted to give my mignonette an exotic flair– so I used a healthy dose a coconut vinegar which I softened just a touch with a bit of water.
The result has all the power of the classic combination, but the sweet crunch and exotic pucker of my version made it an unusual but worthy pairing with the super fresh Kusshi oysters you see here. GREG
Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.