Oysters! Let's talk oysters. There is no purer culinary pleasure than sitting down with a dozen (or two) freshly shucked oceanic beauties -- until you get the Champagne involved, of course. Once you've developed a taste for oysters, nothing else will do.
But, of course, not all oysters are created equal -- and it's a pleasure that doesn't come cheap. So how do you make sure you're getting the best?
Go to a great oyster bar. Places that build their reputation off superior oysters are your best bet. Somewhere like Island Creek Oyster Bar gets it right every time; started by the team behind an oyster farm of the same name, they'd better know their stuff. Luckily, Boston abounds with great raw bar options.
Ask questions. It's not just having great, fresh oysters; it's having a staff who knows their Wellfleet from their Spring Creek. No two oysters are quite alike, and well-trained staff at any good oyster bar should be able to walk you through your options. Don't just choose based on the most compelling name. (Well, unless you want to. There's no wrong way to choose oysters, really.)
Learn what you like. There's a whole vocabulary of oyster terminology. Do you like brinier, saltier oysters, or sweeter ones? Smaller New England oysters, or creamier West Coast? Pay attention to the oysters you love; it'll help you pinpoint the best oysters for you in the future.
Where to eat them?
Island Creek Oyster Bar. Their name synonymous with truly great Massachusetts oysters, Island Creek started as a Duxbury oyster farm that evolved into a beloved Boston restaurant, now with a second Island Creek Oyster Bar in Burlington, VT. All about celebrating the oyster farmer, the raw bar always offers more than a dozen varieties, most of them local -- including, of course, their own.
Eastern Standard. There is no wrong reason to visit this bustling Kenmore Square brasserie. But ordering a dozen oysters (or a full-on shellfish platter) and a bottle of Blanc de Blancs is a very, very right reason.
The Hourly Oyster House. Right in Harvard Square, this friendly, casual seafood spot offers at least 6-8 different New England oysters daily; try them all with the "Tale of Two Oysters" platter, or go all-out on The Hourly seafood tower, with a dozen oysters, plus clams, shrimp, poached seafood salad, four half lobster tails, and marinated mussels.
[Image: Island Creek Oyster Bar]