(with all due respect to Lewis Carroll and Tweedledee)
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
Well, it wasn’t the middle of the night, but it did seem magical like Alice in Wonderland, because the tide was as low as it gets in Brittany, and we were going hiking on la grève for wild oysters! La grève is the exposed part of the ocean bed, and at low tide, the rock faces that are generally underwater become exposed, and there lies the treasure of wild oysters!
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky
Partly true, but in any case, the necessary equipment requires knee-high rubber boots, rain gear and hats, oyster knives, a lemon and a bottle of Muscadet! We hiked about a mile into la grève to a rocky outlet and started looking.
“O, Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach
The excursion reminds me of looking for morel mushrooms in the forests of Minnesota. Until you see ONE you just don’t see ANY! Then all of a sudden you see them everyplace! Giant oysters disguising themselves as rocks!
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more-
Out comes the oyster knife, and slides between the rock and oyster to peel it away. A cold, wild oyster in the palm of your hand! Next, the knife slides into the oyster hinge and pries it open. A moment of gratitude and wonder!
“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
And maybe a bit of courage for first time wild raw oyster eaters! Later, as the tide starts to rise, a rest on the shore to watch the clouds and seabirds, having had the healthiest, freshest food possible. All agreed, a new standard had been set for all oysters to come! Brittany oysters are the best in all the world!
What I was reading on my last trip:
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add flour; whisk 2 minutes. Add cream slowly and whisk until mixture thickens slightly. Cook for a few minutes stirring lightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sauté bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from skillet. Add leeks, celery, bay leaf, and cayenne to skillet and sauté over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 12 minutes. Add wine and cook until absorbed, about 15 seconds.
Add cream mixture and bring to simmer. Stir until leek mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in bacon and cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 1 day ahead).
Place 1 oyster on each of 20 oyster shells or ramekins. Top oyster in each shell with 2 tablespoons leek mixture. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Cover and chill. (Can be made 4 hours ahead).
Preheat oven to 500°F.
Divide breadcrumbs among shells or ramekins. Bake until leek mixture bubbles and crumbs are golden, about 8 minutes.