February 14, 2014 4:30 PM
Last Saturday, I shucked my first ever oyster. Although this is probably a common feat for others, it was an accomplishment for me - one big enough to blog about since my absence over a year ago.
I’ve always loved oysters but the idea of holding a razor-sharp oyster shell in one hand and a pointy knife in the other while jabbing away at the oyster was intimidating enough to send me scurrying to a restaurant where all the work has already been done for me. And as I sat at the table marveling at the platter of glistening oysters on the half shell in front of me, I would always vow, at the back of my mind, that oyster shucking would be a skill I would master one day. But like so many other things, that thought remained where it was – buried deep and forgotten at the back of my mind until the next time I came face-to-face with another gleaming platter of oysters.
That is, until I was lured into buying a Party Mix Box Set (1,300 baht) from Raw Finds. Here’s what was in the limited edition set: 4 pieces each of Fines de Claire, La Réserve and Ostra Regal oysters, all freshly imported from France, a lemon and complimentary mignonette sauce (oyster knife not included).
When I saw the ad for the Party Mix Box Set, my first thought was that I HAD to place an order before it ran out. How I would crack open an oyster was the least of my concern. So a slow week went by in which I waited with eager anticipation for my oysters to arrive (still oblivious to the fact that I was an oyster shucking virgin) and they were finally delivered to my lobby, in a wooden crate wafting with the faint aroma of the sea. A leaflet containing detailed instructions on oyster shucking came with the order and after consulting this, in addition to browsing through several how-to videos online, it was time.
How in the world man first figured out a way to shuck oysters and crafted an apparatus especially for shucking is beyond me. What an ingenious invention. It allowed me to do this:
I must say, oyster shucking wasn’t as hard as I thought. Okay, now on to the reviews:
Fines de Claire: I found Fines de Claires to be the easiest to shuck. These little babies were less fleshy and contained more oyster liquor than their companions. They tasted of the sea and had a very fresh and clean taste. The saltiest out of all three and my second favorite.
La Réserve: I personally felt these oysters were the hardest to shuck. They also had the longest shells. Taste wise, La Réserve oysters were milder and sweeter than Fines de Claires and had a more earthy flavor.
Ostra Regal: What they call the “crème de la crème” out of all three, these oysters were sweet and creamy at first, followed by a subtle saltiness before finishing off with an umami taste. Crème de la crème it is, indeed. My top pick of the three.
So, now that I’ve got oyster shucking under my belt, the next thing to tackle is to bake my own bread!
The past several months have not been the greatest for me, health-wise. I’ve suddenly developed an allergy that causes my arms and legs to be covered with rashes the size of mosquito bites that itch equally. Luckily, the rashes appear sporadically (should I even call that lucky?) so I haven’t turned into a Telfast and Zyrtec addict yet. I’ve been to different doctors and none of them can provide me with a diagnosis of the allergy. I even gave holistic medicine a try and the doctor gave me a long list of foods that I was intolerant to and should refrain from consuming for at least 6 months.
Then I came down with a mild case of the common cold, which again, I guess I should be thankful for, since the people around me have caught worse cases of the cold and sore throat. I decided it was time to give homemade chicken noodle soup a shot. I figured it would be a good remedy for colds and sore throats, with its soul-healing attributes and all. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed in the results. Oh, the soup came out alright but it was a tad too bland (I didn’t want to use too much salt, since I was going for healthy).
All-Natural Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul
(Makes 12 servings)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced (I omitted the celery for this recipe as it was one of the foods on my food intolerance list)
- 1 leek, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 9 cups chicken stock (again, I substituted leeks for celery this time)
- 1/2 pack (250 g.) linguine, cooked
- 350 g. chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-sized chunks
- a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, leeks, celery and chicken for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables become soft.
Add the broth and the thyme and bring to a boil.
Add the linguine and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the chopped parsley to serve.
So there. Gone for almost 2 years and the best I can do is to come back with a recipe for mediocre chicken noodle soup. At least I made it with love and good intentions, and I hope it was able to warm the soul of someone with a cold.
I’ve been back in the UK for a month now and it still amazes me how time flies. Another astonishing fact is how little I know about the town that I’ve been living in for the past 11 months. It’s one of those moments when you keep saying you’re going to visit a certain place but you never get around to it because something always comes up and before you know it, time has flown by and you’ve been living here for almost a year but you still haven’t gotten anywhere or done anything. Okay, I’m blabbering here…just bear with me, I have some things on my mind lately and I haven’t really been myself these past few weeks.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I’ve discovered a wonderful scenic place just recently and the view just overwhelmed me. Okay, I can’t really say I “discovered” this place, since Richmond Park is the largest park in London, which is pretty hard to miss. The national reserve is home to various animals such as deer, foxes, wild rabbits, and geese, and they are all allowed to roam freely in this massive park.
On my first day at Richmond Park, I spent 3 hours just wandering around (and still didn’t cover all grounds). I trekked through a jungle of overgrown ferns, feeling like I was in the Amazon rainforest; it was so isolated and peaceful that it could’ve been a scene from Anaconda, right before the giant boa jumps out to get the victim. I tramped through a savannah, consciously afraid that a hidden leopard might leap out at me any minute while a herd of deer grazed lazily nearby. I climbed up steep hills that left me breathless, both from the workout and the magnificent view at the top. I crossed a pond (no, I didn’t swim…there is a path that separates the two ponds) and watched a flock of geese playing follow the leader.
I came home with extremely sore legs that I knew would get even worse the following day but it was all worth it. Seriously, how many deer do you expect to see in a city as urban as London??