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I just read a few posts on oysters at the fine dining board and now gots the big time oyster cravings. Only (and a big only it is) thing is I live in the midwest, near St. Louis and so far I've never felt comfortable with purchasing them from the supermarket, especially after living in Boston and in San Francisco where I knew they were always fresh.

Ssometimes I order them at restaurants and they're satisfactory, not great, but I was wondering if any of you also living in the midwest states ever buy raw oysters? I'd like to have them for appetizers (hell, right now I'd like to have them for an entire meal) and I'd also like to make them my favorite way: BBQ'd on the grill. Is there a way to verify that they're fresh and non-contaminated?

thanks,
Catherine

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My grandfather once told me (when I was about 6) that the first person to eat an oyster tied a string around it so he could get it back if things did not go well.

Never had one, but that image remains with me after 60 years.
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Catherine,

In St. Louis, you should be sure to check out Broadway Oyster Bar. Its on Broadway in downtown St. Louis, just south of Busch Stadium.

They make a nifty oyster grinder. Very good by Midwestern standards.
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Ironically, oysters in coastal areas are frequently of lower quality than the oysters shipped farther inland. With today's refridgerated trucks, markets in Nebraska can have live oysters 36-48 hours after they're harvested.

You should shop at a busy fish counter to be confident that the oysters haven't been sitting out for long. Sniff the oysters to be sure they smell like the sea. Fishy smells mean contamination. The shells should shut tightly when you tap them. If they stay open, the oysters are dead. Always let them breathe by storing them in the fridge in an open tupperware container or bowl with wet paper towels over them. This should keep them alive until supper time.
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Ironically, oysters in coastal areas are frequently of lower quality than the oysters shipped farther inland. With today's refridgerated trucks, markets in Nebraska can have live oysters 36-48 hours after they're harvested.

I usually get my oysters by the half-sack from a wholesaler/processor in Abita, LA. He gets his 3 or 2 times a week by driving down to the oystermen on the coast and bringing them back in his own truck. I store them in an Igloo type ice chest. I'll put around 15 or 10 pounds of ice in the chest, put that half sack on top of the ice and put a 16 or 8 pound sack of ice on top of the sack. I'll prop up the end of the ice chest away from the drain with a brick to allow the water to drain out of the ice chest. My wife and I usually eat a half dozen each as an appetizer for supper. When a fresh oyster is opened, it should fill the shell and have plenty of juice. If it is shriveled and dry, although it is still edible, it is a sign of an old oyster. The oysters that you buy in the jars have been washed to remove any mud and the natural oyster juice and are not as salty as freshly opened oysters.

C.J.V.

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"Ironically, oysters in coastal areas are frequently of lower quality than the oysters shipped farther inland. With today's refridgerated trucks, markets in Nebraska can have live oysters 36-48 hours after they're harvested."

Forgive me, GADawg, but you'll have a tough time convincing me that the oysters you get in places like Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans are anything like the ones you find shipped in in the Midwest. Yes, if you know the right place, you can find acceptable ones in the North, but to me there's nothing like oysters on the halfshell in costal cities in the South. They are a wonderful tradition.

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Forgive me, GADawg, but you'll have a tough time convincing me that the oysters you get in places like Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans are anything like the ones you find shipped in in the Midwest.

I agree that it's counterintuitive, but it's true nonetheless. If you've ever had an economics course, you'll recognize the terms I'm about to throw out.

It's all because of relative prices. If oysters cost $1.00 for good ones and $0.50 for bad ones in coastal cities, then people who choose to eat a good oyster are giving up the opportunity of eating 2 bad oysters.

But shipping these oysters to inland areas adds equally to the price. Say that transportation costs mean that in Nebraska a good oyster is $1.50 and a bad oyster is $1.00. This means that in Nebraska, the choice to eat a good oyster means giving up the opportunity to eat just 1.5 bad oysters. Since the Nebraskan faces a lower relative price for good oysters than a Floridian, the Nebraskan will consume more good oysters. This means the overall quality of oysters in Nebraska will be higher than in Florida.
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In St. Louis, you should be sure to check out Broadway Oyster Bar. Its on Broadway in downtown St. Louis, just south of Busch Stadium.

They make a nifty oyster grinder. Very good by Midwestern standards.

------------------

hey Paul, thanks for reminding me I need to go there again. Last time I tried was during Mardi Gras and I couldn't even get in the door. I do like their oysters, but don't recall the oysrer grinders; what are they?

Friday evening and all, some oyster shooters would be pretty good right now.

Catherine


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You should shop at a busy fish counter to be confident that the oysters haven't been sitting out for long. Sniff the oysters to be sure they smell like the sea. Fishy smells mean contamination. The shells should shut tightly when you tap them. If they stay open, the oysters are dead.

Now this is the kind of thing I would do at the big fish markets in SF, but so far I haven't found anything like that here. In fact, so far I've learned that St. Louis has a reputation for good seafood being very hard to find.

But I'll ask around some more, maybe I can get a connection talking to the cooks at the Broadway Oyster Bar. Thanks for the info.

Catherine
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Yes, if you know the right place, you can find acceptable ones in the North, but to me there's nothing like oysters on the halfshell in costal cities in the South. They are a wonderful tradition.

Agreed. Granted part of the squishy bliss of them is having them somewhere on the coast, imo, preferably a shack near the shore. I don't think I've ever had an oyster in the north or midwest compare to Louisiana oysters, or the ones at the Pt. Reyes Oyster Farm (forget the exact name) in California.

Catherine
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"It's all because of relative prices."

And you actually BELIEVE that stuff? Then you should be interested in that ocean front property I have for sale in Utah.

(Grin)

Ray
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Catherine, an oyster grinder is an oyster sandwich. I think the oysters are cooked--probably steamed--not batter fried. They are regarded as a specialty at Broadway Oyster Bar (and I hear the ones they serve in New Orleans are not as good as the ones in St. Louis.)

St. Louis has such a tradition as a river city. You would think river fish would be popular there. But alas, no one eats river fish anymore (though the old timers do tell some stories). Maybe one day river fish will be edible again. (Don't we all wish.) I did have bouliabaise last time I was there (all shipped in fish though.)
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"It's all because of relative prices."

And you actually BELIEVE that stuff? Then you should be interested in that ocean front property I have for sale in Utah.


I have tried, but the laws of economics just don't care what I (or anybody else) have to say. They are what they are.

(Sigh)
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And you is what you is! Folks living in the midwest might consider that fine delicacy from the mountain region states as a substitute for fresh Ocean Oysters. Mountain oysters can be shipped fresh from undisclosed locations in the Rockies, in a matter of hours to your midwestern locations.
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Mountain oysters can be shipped fresh from undisclosed locations in the Rockies, in a matter of hours to your midwestern locations

But you have to cook Rocky Mt. oysters; no way in H*!! am I going to suck one out of that half shell.:)
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But you have to cook Rocky Mt. oysters; no way in H*!! am I going to suck one out of that half shell.:)

Not necessarily, some folks is known to eat them fresh right out of the bag!
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Not necessarily, some folks is known to eat them fresh right out of the bag!

Trust me that's late in the festival after many a Coors gone by. I lived in Montana for 7 years, Idaho for 20.

jack

p.s. or it was ROTC guys on a dare.
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