Oysters and champagne is exactly how you get into my heart.
Which explains why I almost responded with an I love you too! to the invitation to try Boca’s new oyster menu. Seriously, asking me out for oysters and champagne is almost like popping the question – both elicits the same reaction – immediate blushing, followed by lots of mouthed yeses and the relentless shaking of my head.
So with the babe in the good hands of Auntie Annie, Kenny and I took off for a nice little pre-weekend happy hour, where we were treated to a sampling of oysters now being offered in the bar area. Tis the season. Tis the freaking season.
Let’s start off by addressing the fact that oysters are so adult. And that does not mean that they are an acquired taste. Oysters are simply a mature indulgence. There is something so wisely satisfying about oysters that you can’t help but feel established while eating them. And nothing made me feel more like I’ve made it than eating oysters at one of our city’s finest restaurants.
And Boca’s oysters are oy-sters. These are not oysters served with saltines and cocktail sauce (even though those kinds definitely have their place). No, these are oysters dressed to shine as oysters. These are mini ocean dishes designed to make the sea meat sing. These are tiny delicacies that honor what Boca is all about – top notch food celebrations.
Boca is now offering two West Coast oysters and two East Coast oysters. There are two types of West Coast oysters – Shigoku and Kusshi – and either can be prepared with horseradish or Yuzo Kusho. The East Coast oysters are prepared hot by way of either miso butter or the classic Rockefeller.
After my last (which was actually my first) experience with hot oysters, we knew that was exactly where to start. Of the two preparations, the miso butter option was undeniably the winner. I’ve simply never had anything like these oysters and they’re still standing out to me as unreal. There was something firm yet slippery about the oyster itself. There was a meatiness to the bite that surprised me. It was almost like biting into a loosely packed snowball – something both light and dense at the same time. The miso butter definitely brought out Japanese undertones and the breadcrumbs that were sprinkled atop added a crunchy pop interest to the whole thing. Of all the oysters, these were the winners.
The oysters Rockefeller were as classic as classic gets. When I think about oysters Rockefeller, I can’t help but think about bourgeoisie and top hats and fur and the stock market and 1920s New York (even though they were an 1840s inventions from New Orleans). They just represent that historic richness to me. Boca’s Rockefellers were made with pernod spinach and hollandaise and were a perfect representation of the classic preparation. Upon finishing, I physically had bring my own nose down.
Our oyster happy hour then concluded with the two cold oysters. The Shigoku oyster was a smaller, more dense oyster, that tasted like an open-mouth kiss with the ocean. The Kusshi oyster was also small, but lighter in texture and taste, and resembled more of a sea smooch.
One was prepared with horseradish, sour cream buttermilk, lemon, and chives. That preparation was not only my favorite of the two, but came in second overall. There was something plump and juicy and bright about this oyster. This oyster had spunk.
The other arrangement was with yuzu (a paste made from chiles, yuzu, and salt), rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and shallots. The yuzo definitely had a kick to it, but in the most subtle of ways. I’m realizing now that good oysters are simply a balance of seeming opposites – firm yet slippery, dense but plump, kick but subtle. This oyster fits that description to a T.
And as if the night wasn’t awesome enough, Executive Chef Jeremy Lieb came out to talk us through the oysters. I was so excited that I think I blacked out. While he talked, I sat there dumbly nodding with the biggest smile plastered on my face. Meeting him was like meeting the lead singer of my favorite band. I was nervous and honored. I almost told him I loved him too.
Without a doubt, Boca is the premiere dining destination in Cincinnati, and with this new offering of the oyster menu, with wine pairings and flight option to boot, there is even more reason to make a point to pop in. Do as you do and consider treating yourself to this happiest of hours.
Thank you Claire Guappone for the opportunity!