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Found! Belon Oysters

Went back to Shuck Oyster House in Costa Mesa tonight.

Tried at least 6-7 types of oysters. All very good.

Then I noticed they had a "$20 oyster" which was belon garnished with creme fraiche, etc.

$9 unadorned. Flown in from Brittany. With the rubberband still on them.

I had to order a half dozen unadorned. They were delicious. Briny, minerally, clean finish, meaty and sweet. A true treat.

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  1. Last time I had a Belon Oyster it was so minerally that it was like biting into an old penny. Truly great with foods that have a lot of garlic.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      This was nothing like that. Minerally in a gorgeous way.

      1. re: Tripeler

        Eat Belon Oysters in Paris. Love watching them shucked and a few minutes later watching them presented in all of their raw glory. "Garnished with creme fraiche/" NON! If you can not get to Paris for your Oyster fix, then go to Maryland in a month which ends in "R" or rely on those pristine oysters at the Hungry Cat. Hungry Cat serves the best oysters in Southern Ca

        1. re: maudies5

          Have had oysters at Hungry Cat at least 3 separate times. They are good.

          These are as good if not better. And Hungry Cat doesn't carry Belon. Shuck Oyster House carries 15 varietals daily. They now serve the best oysters in So Cal.

          Tuna in Rome also has great Belon oysters.

          The months that end in R rule (every month except May, June, July, August) no longer applies since restaurants just source from colder east coast and Canadian waters.

          1. re: maudies5

            Pa-in-law told of getting oysters at a restaurant in Normandy, and asked for some lemon. The waiter was offended: "M'sieur, this is a restaurant, not a fruit stand!" The family ate them nude …

        2. L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake told me they got 300 European flat oysters this week from Maine, but sadly I didn't have the time to come in for them. I recently had flat oysters in Galway and couldn't believe how amazing they were.

          1. I had Belons at Water Grill a few weeks ago. I also had them there years ago and they were much brinier. Perhaps the ones I had recently were domestically farmed versus the other ones were "real" Belons.

            1. We had a half dozen of them this weekend at Connie & Ted's. My first time having them although I had heard of them. They're $4 each there.

              7 Replies
                1. re: pinotzin

                  They were a special and not on the menu so I'd definitely call up in advance though.

                    1. re: pinotzin

                      Oh, these are the ones from Maine - don't want to confuse people thinking that they're from Brittany.

                      1. re: deepfry7

                        Was gonna say, $4 sounds way to cheap for ones from Brittany.

                2. re: deepfry7

                  I was there for lunch yesterday, and they were posted on the Oyster board, $4.00 ea, wild, from ME. I had six. They were OK, mildly salty, but I don't know what they are supposed to taste like. I am going to be in NYC in mid June. Can I get French Belons there so I can compare the two?

                  1. re: pizzafreak

                    Oyster bar in grand central just reopened. Great spot.

                3. Pardon the obvious, how do you know if they're belon oysters from Brittany, or simply belon oysters from some source?

                  Conveniently enough, I just watched the Bourdain episode on this.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: ns1

                      The Belons from France has so much more brininess and flavor. Those farmed here are just not the same.

                    2. Porthos. There are sources of "Belon" oysters on the East and West coasts of the U.S. The reason that you don't see them directly from France is that live European oysters normally cannot be imported into the U.S. So there are two possibilities, one is the law has recently changed. The other is that they were illegal.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: OINews

                        A third possibility. They weren't telling the truth, either because they were misinformed or simply lying.

                        1. re: OINews

                          U.S farmed Belons are not the same and just aren't worth it. I'd rather just stick to my Kumamotos and Kusshis.

                          1. re: OINews

                            The reason that you don't see them directly from France is that live European oysters normally cannot be imported into the U.S.
                            ================
                            Source please. Also are they technically still considered live?

                            If purveyors can fly in crab from Japan and if I've had Scottish langoustines at Daniel in NYC even 10-12 years ago, why can't Belons also be flown in?

                            1. re: Porthos

                              At 9 bucks a pop unadorned I'll believe they're real. With a rubber band around them too huh? Lol

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Good find. FDA link not found. Can you find the updated requirements for us kind Sir? ;-)

                                  Regarding the statement New Zealand oysters are almost never found stateside, that's no longer the case. Saw them at The River Seafood and Oyster Bar in Miami this past weekend. I'm pretty sure if they have them, NYC and the ones in LA also do. Maybe things have changed recently?

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Interesting link.

                                      The key word is "molluscan" shellfish.

                                      So Scottish langoustines and crabs from Hokkaido are allowed. Thank goodness.

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Here is a 2012 update suggesting an MOU was signed in December of 2010. Does there need to be a specific MOU for shellfish or is it just an MOU covering EU/US commerce?

                                        Cooperation between the EU and US on Health-related ICTs
                                        Progress report (June 2012)

                                        The European Union and the United States
                                        recognise the importan
                                        ce of health-related
                                        Information and Communication Technologie
                                        s (ICT) in promoting individual and
                                        community health while fostering innovation
                                        and economic growth. Both the US and the
                                        EU wish to facilitate more e
                                        ffective use of health-related IC
                                        T to support the health of the
                                        population, and to strengthen their relations
                                        hip and support global cooperation in this
                                        area. The approach to fostering mutual unde
                                        rstanding of the common challenges faced by
                                        both sides is set out in a Me
                                        morandum of Understanding (MoU)
                                        which was signed at the
                                        meeting of the Transatlantic Economic
                                        Council (TEC) in December 2010

                                        http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs...

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          This is getting way too geeky for me! :)

                                          1. re: pinotzin

                                            Well, it's interesting what was pointed out by OINews and I don't think the guys at Shuck would flat out just lie to me so I'm just trying to resolve the two. The article and those links are all several years old. Maybe some progress has been made somewhere allowing Belons from Brittany (wishful thinking).

                                            Then again, maybe we were just misinformed.

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              If it tasted good then it doesn't really matter!

                              1. Here is the situation as I understand it. The U.S. government forbids the import of oysters from abroad, with exceptions for those from Canada, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, and New Zealand (the latter three are almost never sold stateside, in any case). I have made some inquiries and will inform you if I turn up anything newer that might have recently changed this situation. I should mention that I frequently see (flash) frozen oysters from Asia exhibited at seafood shows in the U.S. I have personally never seen a live Mexican (Pacific) oyster in a U.S. restaurant or seafood market. Almost all smoked and canned (Pacific) oysters also originate in Asia.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: OINews

                                  Pretty sure I've seen a few from Mexico recently as in within the past 6 months. Not sure if it was here or in Miami. Remember making a point to avoid them because I try to go with oysters from colder waters during the summer months. It must have been at Connie and Ted's or River Oyster Bar in Miami.

                                  1. re: OINews

                                    Fired off an email a couple of days ago that couldn't get answered until now due to the shutdown. Here is the official response from the FDA:

                                    Oysters in their raw form, whether whole or in part, fresh or fresh frozen are not accepted in US commerce from any European Union (EU) Member State, including France. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to work with EU counterparts to reach an agreement for the reciprocal trade of raw molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, and whole or roe-on scallops). Until such time as an agreement is reached, wherein the US and the EU recognize each other’s shellfish safety program as providing an equivalent level of public health safety, the entry of raw molluscan shellfish from Europe into the US is not permitted.

                                    However, cooked molluscan shellfish from the EU is permitted to enter US markets. The safety of cooked product must be controlled in accordance with FDA’s Seafood HACCP Regulation.

                                    Paul DiStefano
                                    FDA/CFSAN
                                    Shellfish and Aquaculture Policy Branch

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      How long has this been in effect? Wonder where Water Grill obtain their Belons about 12 years ago.

                                    2. re: OINews

                                      I will attest to having eaten a Coromandel Bay oyster from New Zealand last night in Manhattan Beach at Fishing With Dynamite.

                                      It was a medium-sized oyster that tasted more of a reef than an ocean; slightly salty, limited minerality, clean but illusive umami.

                                    3. Hijacking the thread, anyone know where I can find large deep cup oysters like Gillardeau's in LA?

                                      Tired of the tiny insubstantial oysters served stateside. The farmers in Tomales bay certainly breed larger sized oysters if not deep cupped, however they never seem to make it to restaurants. No demand perhaps...

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Sgee

                                        Well, for eating raw, many people (including me) prefer the smaller oysters. I consider the larger deep cup oysters more suitable for barbecue. A friend of mine was an oyster farmer in Tomales Bay (until he sold out about four years ago) and I recall he never tried to grow the deep cup oysters you talk about, though he did make efforts to sell to restaurants, and to this end he tried raising Belon oysters as well as developed a heart-shaped oyster (sold well during February).

                                        A good example of the large deep cup oysters is what the Japanese call "Iwagaki" (rock oysters?) and those are big, meaty and quite substantial.

                                        1. re: Sgee

                                          Larger Pacific oysters are often preferred in Asia. Five inchers are not uncommon. In the U.S., demand for large oysters is low. Women especially tend to prefer smaller oysters. Oysters on the West Coast are mostly farmed. So the preference of a farmer is to sell the oyster as soon as it reaches market size - often three inches. Also keep in mind that restaurants have limited refrigerated space. Raw oysters are very demanding to keep for long periods of time. States have strict laws about how long shellfish can be kept refrigerated. They need both low temperature and humidity. The money to be made in a raw bar comes from the drinks, not the oysters themselves. One way to get larger oysters is to simply ask for them. If you frequent a specific raw bar, tell them you like larger oysters. The seafood distributor they use will often have them. The smallest order is usually a fifty piece bag. Bring friends.

                                          1. re: Sgee

                                            The Iwagaki sounds interesting - if large enough might be a good alternative to Gillardeaus. Especially given the creamier tendency for the Japanese varietals. Will inquire with LA fish co if they carry.

                                            The french are likely able to farm the oysters for longer periods given premiums commanded. They average around €25 - 30 for a half dozen at restaurants.

                                          2. Connie and Ted's have Belons from Maine. Wonderful and sweet, minerally, not at all too coppery. $4 each. Delicious. Not as meaty as the ones I had in Rome.

                                            They ran out of chocolate and blood calms which were being served Friday night. Tough break.

                                            5 Replies
                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                Scuba divers can find the European flat oysters all along the coast, from Maine to Cape Cod Bay. They are remnants of a futile aquaculture effort two or three decades ago. There are at least three good commercial sources in Maine. They are plentiful in Great Bay in NH and in Duxbury Bay in Massachusetts. Many people consider them invasive. Others love them. The key is their taste and the environment that feeds them. What they eat makes them taste good. Or not.

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  what do the clams taste like? different because of the color? never tried em.

                                                  for me C and T's has the best oysters in town, cold and full of liquor.

                                                  Try that Elliots oysterhouse in seattle for a large variety of Belons too if you're ever in that neck of the woods.

                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                    Chocolate clams are just named for their shell coloring. Taste wise, I'd say they taste like a "typical" clam (Littlenecks, Cherrystones, etc.).

                                                    Blood clams have a little more of an astringent metallic taste. The clam also seems to have more liquid inside than others, and has more hemoglobin which gives it that blood/rust color from the additional iron I assume; probably also explains the metallic taste.

                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                      I was given several pounds of chocolate clams from ABC Seafoods and found them more worthy of chopping up for clam chowder than steaming alone. These were huge and a bit on the rubbery side.