John Dory: Oyster Delight

A Festive Selection from Chef April Bloomfield's Latest Restaurant

Oysters may not immediately connote yuletide tradition, but in parts of northern France and the southern US they are inextricably linked to Christmas, eaten raw with mignonette and cooked in stews, respectively. It is in part due to their seasonality in winter and in part due to custom: In France, Catholicism demands a carnal abstinence on the eve of a feast day, whereas the South eats, naturally, what it has in droves. We headed to chef April Bloomfield’s recently opened hotspot The John Dory Oyster Bar to sample the best oyster varieties sourced from US locales east and west. Swallow Magazine editor James Casey has provided tasting notes, while John Dory wine director Carla Rzeszewski has selected festive drink pairings here.

Our Guide to Great Oysters

1. Hog Island Sweetwater, CA 

“From Northern California—these Pacific oysters are sweet and creamy, with a mineral finish.” 

2. Mermaid Strait, PEI

“Canadian Atlantic oysters with a briny smoothness, and hint of cucumber.”

3. Fishing Creek James River, VA 

“From the famed Chesapeake Bay, these larger oysters are salty and succulent.”

4. Island Creek, MA 

“Buttery and briny, these cold-water oysters have a wonderful clean taste.”

5. Peconic Bay, Long Island  

“Plump, savory, with a trace of buttery finish.”

6. Kusshi, BC 

“Small in size, big in flavor. Originating in Japan, these Canadian gems are sweet, clean and creamy.”

7. Belon, ME 

“A distinctly different species, originally from Northern France, these flat-shelled oysters are mild with a pleasing metallic tang.”

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