Fruits de Mer

One of the exquisite pleasures of maternity leave is that Pete, Jack, Rosie and I all take a walk every morning.  We all wake up and scurry to get ready so that we can be sure to escort Pete out the door.  Finally, breakfast has been had, lunch has been packed, babies have been swaddled, and coffee has been brewed and fixed in a to-go cup to share.  These last few mornings have been positively freezing!  Both yesterday and today we wrapped Wacky Jacky in two cashmere blankets and nuzzled him into his cashmere pom pom hat.  And this morning we talked about exactly where we'd hidden the dog sweater that Rosie loves to hate.  "But she doesn't need her sweater until we need gloves," Pete said.  "...I wore gloves yesterday."

Anyways, the cold weather is bliss.  I love getting bundled.  When we start smelling woodburning stoves and fireplaces on the street I'll really be in heaven.  One of my favorite places to visit when the weather turns chilly is Balthazar for a late afternoon glass of bubbly and a famous New York extravagance - the plateaux fruits de mer.  (It is my birthday weekend, afterall.)

And of course, there are rules to polishing off this particular plateaux!

How to eat Raw Oysters & Clams: In a formal restaurant or at a formal gathering, oysters and clams should be removed from the half shell with an oyster fork, dipped in sauce if desired, and eaten with the fork.  When an oyster or clam is eaten with a fork, the shell should be steadied on the plate and should never be lifted from the plate.  In an informal setting, it is acceptable to prepare the oyster with sauce in the shell and to eat the oyster by lifting the shell to one's mouth.  

How to eat Steamed Mussels and Clams:  The shell should be separated over a plate, and the empty shell should be discarded.  The other can be held in hand while the clam or mussel is removed with ones fingers by the neck.  The neck sheath is removed and the mussel or clam is dipped in broth or melted butter and eaten in a single bite.  Empty shells can be piled on ones butter plate.  If broth is served in a separate cup it can be drunk, if broth is served in a bowl or plate it may not be drunk.

How to eat Shrimp Cocktail:  Shrimp cocktail is to be eaten with an oyster fork.  If the shrimp are large, bite the shrimp from the oyster fork, one bite sized piece at a time. You don't need to pre-cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces (this is the only exception I can think of to the general rule that everything on your utensil should go into your mouth in a single bite).

Three cheers for elegant eating!

x.

Hello from a bundled Jack this morning