Love on the Half Shell

While there may not be any scientific proof that oysters are an aphrodisiac, these sensual bivalves have retained their reputation as a fun and frisky option for a romantic Valentine’s Day celebration. And where better to source oysters than from Wellfleet, the Cape Cod town known the world over for its shellfish?

You can find Wellfleets in restaurants and fish markets throughout New England. If you do happen to bring home a dozen or two, local Wellfleetian chef and author Liam Rowland has the perfect Mignonette recipe to serve alongside your freshly shucked oysters. 

“This classic French, vinegar-based sauce compliments the salinity of our local oysters with the sweet tangy acid of red wine vinegar and shallot,” says Rowland, who believes mignonette is a staple that should be mastered by all home cooks and chefs alike.

Here is his version of this quintessential oyster compliment:

                       Classic Mignonette                        
Makes enough for a dozen or more oysters 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
1 tablespoon minced shallot (cut very fine)
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey 

Splash of champagne and a few minced cranberries (optional) 

First, mix all ingredients in a bowl and then transfer to a one cup container with a lid. (Mignonette will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months) Serve with your freshly shucked Wellfleet oysters.

Rowland has shared his recipes with the folks at Wellfleet SPAT, Shellfish Promotion and Tasting, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to sustaining and supporting Wellfleet’s longstanding shellfishing and aquaculture industries, and the host of the perennially popular Wellfleet OysterFest®  (The organization’s acronym is appropriately oyster-themed, as spat is the name given to newly attached oyster larvae.) Wellfleet oysters are celebrated for their well-balanced clean, crisp and briny flavor.

So why not seek out some Wellfleet oysters ahead of February 14, whip up this excellent sauce, and let the romance begin! 

Text: Lisa Cavanaugh
Photos: Wellfleet SPAT and Julia Cumes
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