Arcachon Bay is found along the Atlantic Ocean, on the southwest coast of France. This bay produces around 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of oysters per year from their numerous oyster farms and around 700 acres of oyster beds. It’s a thriving oyster community, and their shellfish are prized as some of the tastiest, most delicate in the world.
These French Alienor Fine de Claire Oysters have a translucent mantle, and are less fleshy than most oysters. They have a delicate, sweet, fruity taste to their meat, smooth and balanced.
Oysters are best enjoyed in their natural state, freshly shucked and slurped straight from their shell. You can also add a little squeeze of lemon to balance out the brininess, or even a tomato-based cocktail sauce, or a red wine vinegar mignonette. If you prefer to cook them, they’re great topped with cheese and baked. Champagne goes great with them.
Many will say that the best time to eat oysters would be at the end of the year, during months that end in “r.” This is not really due to its quality, but rather a tradition dating back to the start of the 19th century. Napoleon III signed a decree in 1853 prohibiting the collection of oysters from May to August. This was because, at the time, there was no structure to oyster cultivation yet. They were harvested on natural banks, which meant shortages could happen at any moment. To limit risk of depletion, the decree was signed to allow the oysters ample time to reproduce. Of course, at present, with the advent of modern cultivation, there is no longer a risk of shortage.
Store your box of fresh, unshucked oysters in your fridge, keeping the temperature between 0 to 5°C. Keep them covered with a damp cloth, flat side up, to increase shelf-life. To enjoy them at their freshest, please consume them within 48 hours.
When you’re ready to shuck your oysters, take a sharp knife (a vegetable knife or, ideally, an oyster shucking knife) and hold the oyster, round-side down and pointed side facing you, between a tea towel. Wiggle the knife into the pointy end and twist it until the shell comes open.