Page 106

Golden Fork winner | Huîtres Amélie | Huîtres Amélie

At Amélie, only meaty, smooth-shelled, uniformly shaped Marennes-Oléron oysters make the cut.


yster aficionados will be disappointed to learn that the Golden Fork winning Huitres Amélie aren’t currently available in the UK. However, they may be heartened to learn that the French oyster producer is planning to launch in the UK next year, and is even considering opening a flagship oyster bar in London. For now, though, they will have to make a journey across the Channel to experience the meaty texture, clean mineral twang and sweet finish of the PGI (protected geographical indication) oysters first hand. Amélie’s ambition Amélie’s oysters are is to create the grown in the Marennesperfect oyster Oléron basin on the and to push Atlantic coast, in the the limits of mouth of La Seudre river. excellence. “This river brings a lot of nutrients and helps improve the oyster’s organoleptic qualities. In addition, the cold water and strong currents help to strengthen the shell and achieve uniformity,” says Joan Carles Pineiro, the company’s owner. Importantly, only triploid oysters are grown. These are oysters that cannot procreate and offer the same taste and texture year-round, as opposed to nontriploid oysters, which have a milky taste and texture in summer, says Joan. After two to three years in the ocean, the oysters are matured for a month in clay ponds, known as ‘claires’. “The claires are brackish water ponds that were formerly used by the Romans as salt marshes. They only exist in Marennes-Oléron and are filled regularly by the tide,” explains Joan. He says that finishing the oysters in the claires grows the meat, enhances the taste by making it less sour and iodised, purifies the oysters and eliminates epibontes (small organisms living on the surface of the shell)


for a more attractive presentation. Those oysters that make the grade are either categorised as ‘Fine de Claire’ or ‘Speciale de Claire’. The Fine de Claire is not too fleshy, with a subtle sea flavour and a short finish, whilst the Speciale de Claire’ is fleshier, with a firm consistency, rich flavours balanced between iodine and sweetness, and deeper concavity of the shell. Everything about this process is geared towards producing the best possible oysters, from the location of the farms to the strict

quality criteria that Amélie insists on in relation to shape, weight, size and flesh ratio. But then it is, after all, the company’s ambition to elevate the oyster to luxury status, as Joan explains. “Amélie’s ambition is to create the perfect oyster and to push the limits of excellence,” he says. “Our idea was to treat the oyster as a luxury product, whereas it is currently treated as a basic commodity. As a producer, we have to be as demanding as any other manufacturer of luxury goods.”

How to use: pair with a glass of acidic, lively and very dry white wine GREAT TASTE 2016-17

Great Taste Book 2016-17  
Great Taste Book 2016-17