On Monday, I attended chef Nico Romo’s oyster class at his restaurant, NICO, and I learned more about oysters than I thought I needed to know. And that’s a good thing. Because y’all, we need to eat more oysters.
Oysters filter our oceans and rivers, cleaning our water and sustaining ecosystems that support our beloved fish and shrimp. Before opening NICO, Romo and his colleagues took a road trip, aptly titled the Nico Oyster Hunt.
Traveling up the East Coast, the group hit oyster farms in North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maine. They learned about how oysters grow, what temperatures (and hurricanes) can do to oyster populations, and what to look for in a good oyster.
Chef says the experience was life-changing. It even changed the restaurant’s mission. As they put it, “Before this trip, we were focused on elevating the classic oyster and pushing it in a new direction. After experiencing the care and effort these farmers put into creating their perfect oyster, our focus shifted: to present the oyster as close to its original state as possible.”
When you attend an oyster class at NICO, you get to hear about Romo’s trip and see how he took all of the knowledge he gained and channeled it into his namesake restaurant. You’ll hear about how and why the oysters are stored how they’re stored. You’ll taste Champagne and white wine that pairs wells with the bivalves.
And you’ll eat some damn oysters.
[image-7] First, though, Romo will encourage you to try shucking an oyster (wearing a chainmail glove) without damaging the precious meat or spilling any of the briny liquid inside. He’ll demonstrate how to carefully cut the abductor muscle, that thing that connects the oyster meat to the shell, and then, how to slurp it all down.
Romo and famed in-house shucker Isabella Cain serve up 12 different oysters, talking guests through the region each one comes from, and how and why it tastes the way it does. Bella assures guests that you can’t go wrong in describing an oyster, and Romo notes that you’re never wrong if you call oysters “salty.”
The class also includes an oyster knife and oyster candle.
You can sign up now for next Mon. May 27′s class ($55). Stay tuned for June dates.