It has been said that the bravest man in the history of the world was the one who ate the first oyster. Since then there have been millions of men and women who followed the unknown gourmet’s choice, to make the humble bivalve a true delicacy.
Much mystique surrounds the oyster, with Casanova supposedly consuming 50 oysters each day to keep his libido in top form, and an enterprising Australian oyster farmer reputedly added crushed Viagra into his oyster beds. Unfortunately, the resulting oysters though standing up and waving, were rejected by the Australian health officials although there was apparently some Asian interest as I am sure the oysters would be better than bear paw or tiger gall bladder! I am also led to believe that the makers of Viagra slapped a lawsuit on the creative fisherman for misuse of a trademarked name, ending the farmer’s plans to market Oysters Viagra to rival Oysters Kilpatrick.
Now when we talk of oysters, the name Fine de Claire naturally comes up, cultured on the French Atlantic coast. Fine de Claire is the favorite oyster of people who love less fleshy and more juicy oysters with a balanced taste. This oyster must be refined in the shallow water of the Claire’s basins, according to a strictly stipulated number of months and a maximum limit on the number of oysters per square meter. The result is a juicy oyster rich in water, with translucent or white mantle, an earthy flavor, smooth with a wonderfully lingering aftertaste.
The “Bubbles” to wash down the French oysters was a Jeanne d’Arc Prestige Brut Blanc de Blanc, indeed a dry French white sparkler from Chardonnay grapes and was light enough, not to compete with Fine de Claire! I would describe Jeanne d’Arc as a middle of the road sparkler.
Served with the oysters were choices of various dressings, but for me, the freshly squeezed lemon juice was more than enough. A Thousand Island style was one of the offerings, but this would have been sacrilege in my eyes.
The oysters were served over ice and were three, whilst the ‘bubbles’ were free-flow. This could be a dangerous precedent I thought to myself at the time, as I nodded in acknowledgement to another glass of Jeanne d’Arc. A word of warning!
Fortunately, the Mantra has limited the number of oysters to three. Given half a chance, I would have gone for free-flow oysters as well!
However, my dinner partner, PR Manager Pichchaya Nitikarn, suggested we sample the “Taste of Thai” menu, which comes from the Thai kitchen, selected for August from the seven kitchens in Mantra.
This was a good suggestion and saved me from leaving my car and going home by taxi.
As a base we had a pineapple fried rice which was sweet from the pineapple and raisins. Such a great base, rather than plain rice, which can be somewhat stodgy.
I next tried the grilled lemongrass tiger prawns. These came transfixed on a lemongrass stalk and had a tamarind glaze on mango salad. This is the style of cuisine, for which Thailand is famous, and I enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
Next I sampled the Massaman Nua, the beef curry which originated in the south of Thailand. This takes many hours of simmering to get the beef to fall apart, and the potato to absorb the flavor as well. This is not a very spicy dish and I would recommend this choice for anyone a little afraid of Thai spiciness.
The third dish was a Gaeng Ped Phet Yang, which is a roast duck curry with lychees and pineapple. The sweet ingredients take away some of the fire that duck curries can have and I enjoyed it too!
It was certainly an interesting evening, and the Fine de Claire oysters were fresh, having been flown in from France. Chef Shaun Venter knows his oysters and I could have eaten many more, though attempting Casanova’s record would have been tempting fate I feel.
The Monday evening (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) Oysters and Bubbles promotion (B. 990) finishes in August. Take a friend who can drive you home!