17 March 2014


The days are starting to stretch out, unfurling themselves from the chill and darkness of the last months. It is St Patrick’s Day, the first bank holiday of the year, and a promise hangs in the air: of spring, new potatoes, wild garlic, and the first lamb of the season. It is all a little too early yet, so I content myself by playing with Oysters on the menu: dousing them in Poitin and Preserved Lemon, the prickle of Tabasco livening the pairing; or with a splosh of Stout and a fleck of Horseradish.  

Despite the lengthening of the days, the light still eludes me, our building burrows into the shadows, slumbering, hesitant to embrace the spring and this makes capturing oysters glistening in their salty shells all but impossible. I am planning a jaunt to the sea soon with a hip flask of peaty whiskey, a loaf of dulse bread and a plan to photograph and eat well a brace of native oysters. 

Here, I have paired Carlingford Oysters with Brown Paper Bag Project’s Pleasant Porter. I used the pairing for some filming with a Chinese TV program during the week. The hostess and I sat, laughing as we slurped down oysters for the camera, language no barrier for the joy of sharing fresh shellfish and dark beer. The  silky bitterness of the porter dominates at first and then the brine of the oyster washes in. The tiniest amount of grated horseradish binds the two together: salty, bitter, spicy and sweet. 

Oyster and Stout Shots

Six Oysters Shucked (Youtube to the rescue!)

One Bottle of Dry Irish Stout (there will be some left over for sipping)
A 2cm piece of Fresh Horseradish (you won’t need all of it, but any less and I have a tendency to microplane my fingers) or the tiniest amount of creamed horseradish

Six glasses, chilled
Sturdy knife for shucking
A grater, preferably microplane

When shucking, be careful to preserve the ‘water’ of the oyster. 
Plop the oyster, water and all from its shell into the glass.
Top with 30mL of stout and a few ‘grates’ of horseradish. If you are using creamed horseradish, I recommend whisking together with the stout to avoid a nasty shock. 

Serve along side the rest of the stout.

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