Raw oysters, hard alcohol and grilled peaches are only the breakfast of champions under certain controlled circumstances. Although I can think of a few others, the best excuse for this type of tomfoolery is a vacation. I’ve been looking for a reason to share this week’s recipe with you for quite some time, and vacation seems like just the one — even though the inspiration for the recipe comes from a restaurant in our home town.
Hoboken’s 3 Forty Grill sports a funny little raw bar. In part, it’s funny bad, because in direct contravention of the Little Raw Bar Book of Etiquette in my head, they won’t let you order fewer than six of a particular type of oyster. It’s not that I have a hard time polishing off six oysters in a matter of seconds while my dining companions are searching for the tiny stud earring I “accidentally” dropped on the floor, trust me. It’s just that for several years now, I’ve been madly scribbling on a tiny part of the white space in my brain, trying to figure out what could motivate such a policy. I’ve watched plenty of experts shuck oysters and even shucked my own thumb on occasion, thank you very much, and I have yet to encounter anyone who prefers doing six at once over doing just the one.
Under ordinary circumstances, a girl might vote with her wallet and order her oysters elsewhere. But my friends, the oyster-eating circumstances at 3 Forty are far from ordinary. To balance out the funny bad, they offer funny good — funny oh so good — in a tiny little metal cup. The goodness has no given name, but those of us who have been around the oyster trough and the dessert tray a time or two will recognize it instantly as a Mignonette Granita.
If you speak restaurant Fritalian, you know exactly what I mean, and your mouth is already gleeking.
If you’re normal (poor, dear you), (a) you probably stopped reading this blog some time ago or (b) you might like a translation. Mignonette sauce is a lovely little condiment for oysters made of vinegar, shallot, peppercorns, and sometimes a bit of wine, sugar, salt and herbs. Granita is a frozen or semi-frozen dessert made by raking flavored liquid with a fork as it freezes, breaking up the ice into small pieces. Mignonette Granita is a delightful example of the culinary gestalt this website exists for. I’ll leave you with that so you have time to stop by the fish market before it closes.
But before you go, I’m excited to announce that starting today I’ll be writing a weekly column for the wonderful food blog Serious Eats. Every Tuesday The Crisper Whisperer will help CSA members, gardeners, farmers’ market shoppers and other interested parties make good use of seasonal bounty. First up, zucchini — the Brangelina of produce. You can find the column, including a recipe for Zucchini Corn Fritters, here.
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 shallot, minced
- 5 peppercorns, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients in a very small pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour cooled mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a small baking dish or other freezer-safe container just big enough to hold the mixture in a shallow layer. (Protip: save the strained shallot and toss into your next salad.) Freeze the mixture, scraping every hour or so with a fork to break up the ice into small pieces, until fully frozen (probably about 3 hours). Serve in a small, very cold bowl as a condiment for oysters on the half shell.