More postcards from the Pyrenees
I have an interesting relationship with Oysters, in that I love them but I am allergic to them. My enjoyment these days being derived vicariously, beside my love.
As he pops the shells open to receive the milky pearlessence within, my mouth waters, for I know the ozone freshness there.
The Pyrenees mountains span from the Atlantic to the Med and we get oysters from both coasts… on occasion, we trot across to the little Basque towns of the western corner or to the Occitane/Catalan towns of the eastern side.
Whatever your preference, one thing is for sure, the best and only way to enjoy an oyster is when it is perfectly fresh. Off to market we went that early April morning, we picked up something from la Mer, in the form or beautiful Arcachon oysters and something from la Montagne, in the form of some Pyreneean cheeses. Our small village and all those along the valley are studded with fields of milky or blonde coated cows, that peacefully graze alongside their calves. The hardy sheep of the mountains feature, bred to withstand the icy depths of winter and searing scorch of summer alongside smallholdings with their herds of pretty little goats, the milk moving from field to parlour where those artisans take pride in making their delicious cheeses. I love waking in the morning to the sight of those girls, gently working their way across the hillside.
Both of my delightful step daughters, at this point, would have been very pleased indeed with such a meal, being their father’s daughters and loving both the oysters and the cheese – it would have been, our ‘perfect moment’ with them. However, they weren’t there so hey-ho, we had to eat everything ourselves!
Rocket had decided to enjoy half his haul of pearly goodness naturally with a little lemon, and the other half, he would cook. After rattling through Larousse Gastronomique, we took a few ideas and settled on some breadcrumbs fried in butter, added to the oyster on the half shell, with a little cream and some grated Cantal cheese. The cheese adding to the salty flavour and the cream melding with the natural juice therein.
I ate a salad of some mild and creamy goats cheese, melted aboard some crusty bread and drizzled with mountain honey…another great tradition of the Pyrenees, where the honey bees feed on the pollen of the many wild flowers.
Of course Rocket joined in with that after his oysters. I then topped off my cheese filled day with a little cheese plate, with a black cherry compote the likes of which goes unbelievably well with the semi-soft sheeps cheeses of our locale, or indeed as an enhancement to all cheese boards everywhere. A perfect supper, for that perfect moment in April.