After my initial report about oysters that are grown entirely in finishing basins, I returned to the seafood shop upstairs at the Kleinmarkthalle last Saturday to purchase a dozen Marennes-Oléron oysters in the category Spéciale de Claire. They cost EUR 2.00 a piece, as compared to EUR 2.50 a piece for the Pousse en Claire oysters. Unlike the Pousse en Claire, the Spéciales de Claire are only finished for several weeks in the finishing basins (claires), otherwise growing offshore. This provided the perfect mix between salt and sweetness that I had been looking for. I shucked the oysters and placed them on a bed of rock salt in a round serving tray between slices of lemon. We served them as a light appetizer to our friends, a German couple that also likes seafood and has vacationed in France numerous times. We drank a bottle of Spanish Chardonnay with the oysters. What I particularly like about the two Oléron oysters that I have tried is the concavity of the shell, allowing for plump oysters. The Speciales only required a bite or two before swallowing, and the nice blend of salty liquid and sweet flesh played on the tongue for several seconds. After surfing a bit today, I learned that the pacific oysters grown in Marennes-Oléron also are referred to as Rock Oysters. For anyone interested, the old rule of only eating oysters in months that contain an "r" seems to apply to the flat oysters known as Ostrea edulis, of which the Belon oyster is the most famous. These oysters have a reproductive cycle that makes them less appealing from May to August. The pacific oysters can be eaten year-round.
"Refined at Marennes Oléron and Nowhere Else"
Cheaper by the Dozen?
An "Oyster Park" near Marennes