Always gorgeous, Aureole, located at 135 West 42nd Street at Broadway in the heart of Times Square in New York, took on a different ambience on Sunday, September 23, 2012, when award-winning Chef Charlie Palmer held his oyster social outside in the courtyard. It was a beautiful day to be in New York dining al fresco. Patrons sat at tables draped with white linen tablecloths flanked by wood chairs, or sat on the wood banquettes lining one of the walls, mingled while enjoying a diverse selection of oysters, sipped glasses of Louis Roederer champagne, wine, beer, or a Bloody Mary made with Swedish Purity Vodka, and listened to The Larry Siegel band.
The Larry Siegel Band
Music Welcoming Guests to The Osyter Social
While Chef Charlie Palmer and his team shucked an abundance of oysters, Edward and I learned that not all oysters are the same. Over the course of several hours of raw oyster decadence, we increased our knowledge and learned as terroir affects grapes, the same is true for oysters, where the salinity, the nutrients in the water, as well as the temperature of the water, affect not only the texture of the oyster, but also the taste.
Chef Charlie Palmer Shucking Oysters
As oysters constantly filter water in their quest for food, the nutrients in the water will affect their taste, and nutrient-rich waters produce more flavorful oysters. Atlantic salinity versus Pacific salinity, water temperatures of the north versus the south, and the east versus the west, affect the resulting oysters. As for size, some oysters are large like the Eastern variety, some are medium, and some are small, some oysters are considered meaty while others are referred to as plump, and each variety has its own unique qualities and characteristics, yet all are delicious.
Laura J. Allen of Aureole shucking oysters
Oysters waiting to be shucked
Joanne McNeely, Seafood Marketing Coordinator of Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc was a wealth of knowledge on Eastern oysters harvested out of Louisiana waters, which are fast growing oysters that reach maturity in 18 months and thrive on a mix of fresh and salt water. The taste is meaty, wonderful, with a slight brininess. The Eastern oysters at the social were supplied by the "family-owned Motivatit company, established in 1971 in Houma, Louisiana, where the owners are the 6th and 7th generation of Voisins involved in the seafood industry, since 1770, when the first Voisin arrived in Louisiana from France."
Joanne McNeely, Edward, and Debra
As a comparison, we sampled Pemaquid oysters from the Damariscotta River, Maine, which are also a type of Virginica or Eastern oyster. Compared to the Eastern oysters from Louisiana, which were softer, due to the warmer waters, the Maine oysters, harvested from colder waters, were firmer, plump, with a saltier, clean, smooth finish.
We also sampled Chefs Creek oysters from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada, which is a medium size beach-cultivated oyster that has a ruffled shell, is available from September until July, and has plump meat, and a delightful creaminess and a mixture of salty and sweet on the palate.
Chefs Creek Oysters
Of course, we could not resist the siren song of Mermaid Cove oysters from Prince Edward Island, Canada, which is also a medium-size oyster. Harvested from the Hillsborough River, this pretty oyster is available from May until January.
Mermaid Cove Oysters
We first sampled the raw oysters "naked" to appreciate their individual nuances, sipping the resultant nectar once we consumed the oysters, then tried them again with the accompanying sauces, a shallot vinaigrette, cocktail sauce, tarter sauce, as well as experimented by adding a dash or two of A & B American-Style Pepper Sauce from Louisiana.
Edward enjoying his oysters
In addition to the generous amounts of raw oysters, there was soup, a seemingly endless supply of Oysters Rockefeller baked to perfection with a rich butter sauce and herbs, lightly battered deep-fried oysters that melted in your mouth, skewers of large and succulent golden tempura shrimp, and delectable miniature shrimp Po-Boys.
Oyster Medley Tempura Oysters
The Aureole team shucked over 3,000 oysters during the social, and while it would have been wonderful to write that we found a pearl in one of the several dozens of oysters we consumed, alas, there was not a one. What we did have though was a fabulous day socializing with Chef Charlie Palmer and his friends Chef David Burke and Chef Waldy Malouf, chatting with the other guests, and of course, eating many delectable oysters. It was a perfect afternoon to toast the beginning of autumn, enjoy great food and drink, and listen to nice music, while helping to raise money and awareness for Citymeals-on-Wheels, not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon in New York.
Edward, Chef David Burke, Chef Waldy Malouf, Chef Charlie Palmer
"Citymeals-on-Wheels, is one of the largest meals on wheels programs in the U.S., delivering 2 million meals to over 16,000 seniors in New York each year. Along with delivering healthy senior meals, Citymeals coordinates thousands of devoted volunteers to provide human companionship and serve the elderly with compassion and dignity. Gael Greene and James Beard founded Citymeals-on-Wheels in 1981 after reading a newspaper article about homebound elderly New Yorkers with nothing to eat on weekends and holidays. They rallied their friends in the restaurant community raising private funds as a supplement to the government-funded weekday meal delivery program. Twenty five years ago their first efforts brought a Christmas meal to 6,000 frail aged."
Chef Charlie Palmer, Debra, Chef David Burke
Aureole serves Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:45am until 2:15pm, and Dinner Monday through Sunday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm.
Read the interview with Chef Charlie Palmer in the Chefs' Recipes section where he shares a few recipes and a delicious taste of Aureole.
Tim Bartley and Chef Charlie Palmer
To learn how to shuck an oyster, follow Luxury Experience on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LuxuryExperience and watch the video of Laura J. Allen of Aureole demonstrating the technique.
Chef Charlie Palmer, Chef David Burke, Chef Waldy Walouf
One Bryant Park
135 West 42nd Street at Broadway
New York, New York 10036
Follow Aureole on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AureoleNewYork.
Follow Luxury Experience on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LuxuryExperience.
© October 2012. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com. All rights reserved.