I grew up in a household where it was taken as an article of religious faith that one never, ever cooked an oyster. But I have married — or at least partnered — into a family of Mornayers, and as in any mixed marriage, my convictions have been shaken. As such I now delight in a wide variety of cooked oysters, from those lightly slathered in herb butter a la Eric Ripert at La Bernadin to those covered in mornay sauce, a la the mother-in-law.
But having shaken one orthodoxy, I have now taken up a whole new set of dogmas. First among them, oysters that are cooked must be done right, and oysters Kilpatrick requires Lea & Perrins. Yet last week on the far-north NSW coast, I encountered Kilpatricks baked to buggery with bad bacon and … wait for it … barbeque sauce. Not once, but a number of times. Is this a regional thing? Whatever it is, it is wrong.
All was not lost, however; top marks to both Season and Fin’s in the Salt Beach resort complex. Season’s oysters, done a number of ways (including tempura-fried with wasabi mayonnaise) were among the best I’ve had recently. If you are at Fin’s, which brings yummy bacalao amuses out for the kids that are preferable to those given to the grown-ups, do not go past the tuna tartare.