Malpeque Oysters

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Prince Edward Island's Malpeque Oysters are a no-brainer. Since their gold medal as the world's tastiest oyster at the 1900 Paris Exhibition, Malpeques have maintained their popularity as a quality oyster. They are grown wild and hand harvested off the hard packed clay and rocky bottom of Malpeque Bay with tongs and then finished and cleaned up on private aquaculture leases. They have the clean look and light body of cultivated oysters but have a slightly more robust flavor. They grow from 3" to 3.25" with medium cups and a medium meat to shell ratio. The cups are polished bone with a light brown wash that gets darker in the deeper indentations. The caps are bone colored and the malpeques with Sho Chiku Bai Nama Sake rings get darker greenish brown as they approach the new growth at the lip.

I get at least one small bag (half a dozen or so) Malpeques a year and usually get more. This year I am eating them with a bottle of Sho Chiku Bai Nama Sake. Creamy, light tan flesh with light brown gills fills the cup with about 30% liquor. The liquor smells like a rocky seashore and is nearly as salty as the salt water my Mom used to give me to gargle with when I had a sore throat. Despite the salt, the liquor is fresh and refreshing. The meat aroma has some ocean wave, sea weed and white pepper. Malpeques are a very satisfying oyster - salty and meaty, leaving a lightly sweet melon taste. There are some seaweedy vegetable flavors, a little mushroom and a hint of celery floating over a background of meaty bone broth. The meat is firm and not tough, membranous or gristly. There is some crunch where the abductor joins the shell but the rest is plump, slightly reminiscent of steak or tuna tartar. The Sake and the oyster work together Logsdon Seiozon Bretta and malpequesvery well. The pairing brings out the melon in both the Sake and the Oyster with the Sake leaning more to golden melon while the oyster has more of a green melon taste. The Sake's sweetness pulls out the oyster's sweetness while their combined sweetness tempers the salt. The alcohol heightens the flavors and calls attention to the umami in both the Sake and the oyster. The paring recalls a nice Pho filled with tender, melt in your mouth meat, fresh crunch vegetables and mushrooms. I rate the oysters 90 and the pairing 95.

Malpeques also pair nicely with beer, mead and ciders. I found Logsdon Seizon Brett pairing particularly well. The carbonation and the wild, funky flavors are more cleansing than the Sake and do not evoke Pho like Sake but instead highlight more of the oyster's earthiness and tidal pool character. The oyster's saltiness also works well with the beer's funk and bitterness. Malpeques would also pair well with Belgian IPA such as Boom Island Django Hop Bier, Clown Shoes American Monastic, Eastlake Craft Brewery Shoot From the Hip, Pipeworks Glaucus and Utepils Glocal IPA.

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