Oyster Sampler with Verjus Gelee, Beet Relish and Caviar, pepper infused red wine vinaigrette granite

Eastern Oysters are at peak quality in January and February. If you are planning an event, add an Oyster Bar. Our chefs will produce a trendy style of oyster toppings and condiments.

Oyster Sampler with Verjus Gelee, Beet Relish and Caviar, pepper infused red wine vinaigrette granite

Oyster Tidbits

Did you know?

More than four thousand years ago the costal Indians of North America ate oysters in great quantities?  Unlike the ancient Greeks and Romans, the American Indian preferred his oysters cooked.  In fact, the American Indian is credited with the first oyster stew.

In 1859, residents of New York City spent more money on oysters than on butcher’s meat.

A fine purple thread should run around the beard of the oyster, this being looked upon as a sign of superior quality.

Is there anything more American than corn fritters and oysters?

In 1880, Chesapeake Bay was producing fifteen million bushels of oysters each season.  That is mid September through March.1

The Oyster

The oyster shell is divided into two halves and for reasons only known to the oyster, its body lies in the left valve.  Valves are called the two half shells of the oyster and it is connected with a powerful muscle with opens or closes the shell.  That muscle is the challenge when we try to shuck an oyster.  They thrive in brackish water, living in bays, coves and estuaries where currents supply food – plankton and tiny larvae that the oyster strains through its gills.

It is amazing to know that one single oyster can pump up to one hundred gallons of water through its valves in a day.  To keep a bed of oysters fat and content there must be a great deal of tidal action.  Chesapeake, Apalachicola and Tomales Bays are all excellent feeding grounds for a great oyster. 1

Today oyster samplers in restaurants and at parties enjoy great popularity.  Chefs have created multiple choices of toppings and flavor enhancers who gain more weight when we marry oysters with wine and champagne.  Here are some of our most popular suggestions from the kitchen of the Valley Mansion by Martins:

Degree of Difficulty: 1 + (easy)
Prep Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour, plus freezing time for granite Yield: 10 portions each of ver juice gelee, beet relish, red wine granite
Portion Size: 1 oz. portions each of ver juice gelee, beet relish, red wine granite; 6 oysters per portion (2 each of 3 different kinds)
Source: Chef Raimund Hofmeister CMC, AAC


Oysters on the Half Shell
3 kinds; 2 each, 6 per portion

Ver Juice Gelee
2 cups red verjus
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp agar-agar powder
Or 12 leaves gelatin

Beet Relish
1 cup Pinot Noir wine
½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup water
2 cups red beet, cut into brunoise
3 each shallots, cut into brunoise
(approximately ½ cup)
¼ cup sesame oil

¼ cup grapeseed oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Red Wine Granite
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
10 shallots, brunoise
1 tbsp black pepper, crushed

2 lemon wedges, cut into quarters
½ tsp sturgeon caviar
Sour cream (small dot)
2 cups flaked ice
3 oz. seaweed


Add all ingredients for the red wine granite into a saucepan and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes. Pour and strain into a pan and freeze. Remove from freezer and whisk until light and fluffy.

Cut the beets and shallots into brunoise (fine dice) and place in a saucepan with the Pinot Noir, rice vinegar, soy sauce and ½ cup of water. Cook beets until all liquids are reduced by 2/3rds. Remove from heat and add oils. Refrigerate. Before service, mix in toasted sesame seeds.

In a pot, combine ver juice, sugar and agar-agar and let sit for 10 minutes, and then bring to a boil. Pour into a dish to about 1/8 inch deep. Refrigerate until set.

Place ice and seaweed on plate; put 2 of the 3 different kinds of oysters on ice. Set granite in one dish, beet relish with sour cream and caviar in another dish, and ver juice gelee in a third.

More Various Toppings:

  • Fresh Tomato/Chili Salsa
    Cucumber & Dill Relish
  • Cocktail Sauce


1. Williams, Lonnie, and Karen Warner. Oysters: A Connoisseur's Guide and Cookbook. 1987. Reprint. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1990. Print.

Let''s Talk

Contact us today and allow one of our event planners to help you arrange the perfect menu.