Broadway Oyster Bar's Oysters Rockefeller, market price (averages between $10 and $14)
Oysters can be a tricky food. Contrary to popular belief, they do not all taste the same. Their origins, sizes and shapes can determine how briny, creamy, lean, fatty and even "fruity" tasting they will be. And then, of course, there is the preparation; raw, grilled, baked or fried, all of these factors play into taste, and ultimately wine and beer pairings.
Rockefeller is a classic preparation. The oysters are topped with a spinach cream sauce and then baked. I consider this a good introduction dish for the oyster novice. Cooked oysters tend to have a milder flavor while the addition of the rich sauce tames both the texture and the sometimes-robust taste of the shellfish.
THE DRINK PAIRINGS
Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley Wash., $6 by the glass
With almost any presentation of oyster, a crisp white with generous acidity is a clear-cut match. With the Rockefeller, I was not only looking to balance the full-bodied consistency of the sauce but also to highlight the natural, fresh nature of the oyster. The subtle herbal quality in Sauvignon Blanc further enhances the spinach characteristics while the wine's zesty citrus and touch of minerality cuts through the heavy cream sauce, enlivening the oyster once again. A quick sip of this white between oysters invigorates your palate, preparing it for the next lush bite.
Snoqualmie "Naked" Riesling, Columbia Valley, Wash., $7 by the glass
While the term "naked" on a wine bottle usually refers to the absence of oak aging, in this case, the producer is referring to its minimal intervention on the grapes themselves. Taking an organic approach, this Northwestern Riesling reflects inherent qualities of the grape as well as natural nuances of the vineyard and region. Upon first touch, this wine is a tongue tickler, in my opinion, the best way to start a wine and seafood pairing. Fruity notes of apricot and pear followed by an off-dry finish are a fun contrast to the earthy and lush attributes of the dish.
Magic Hat #9, Vt., $4 by the pint
The famous pairing of oysters and stout makes beer is must-try pairing with this dish. Palate-cleansing carbonation and refreshing finishes are keys to the classic match of raw oysters and brew, but what about a baked rendition with a creamed sauce? Does that change the rules? For me, it did. Shying away from heavier, darker styles, I found myself gravitating toward lighter beers, especially ones without an overwhelming presence of hops. This self proclaimed "not-quite-pale-ale" provided a clean yet fruity mouth with stable hoppiness to both offset and enrich the dish.
Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 South Broadway, 314.621.8811, broadwayoysterbar.com
STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean by working in the luxury restaurants and hotels of St. Louis and San Francisco. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience.