‘As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.’
-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
This is the quote that my brother hooked me with before taking me to my first proper eating oysters experience, at Umarfisch Restaurant in Naschmarkt, Wien. I was actually curious about these love it or hate it pieces of salt-water bivalve mollusks, because I had tried some in past, ate them fast and without even adding lemon, and it didn’t feel quite right. Some say that the first time it is better to try oysters raw, without any condiments, but I don’t think it’s such a good idea. So, at Umarfisch I did it by the book, by my brother’s book, following what he was doing, for he is passionate about oysters and good food in general.
Here’s what I say, when you try oysters for the first time, pour some Tabasco sauce in the oyster, some cocktail sauce, lemon, mix’em up and only after this, sip the meat from its shell. Then close your eyes and enjoy the aftertaste and feeling. Invigorating, divine, just like Hemingway said!
I mean the rest of the meal was yummy too, the baked potatoes, the fresh fish, even the lovely presentation of the plates, but the oysters were something else. It made my forehead stretch and lighten up. I think I even lost a couple of wrinkles. It was solar! Oysters are actually known to bring happiness.
So, this experience was happening in November, last year.
End of March (small note, oysters are best eaten in months containing letter R, like September to December and January to April), I visited my brother again, he has been living in Wien for three years now, and we decided to keep the tradition and go for oysters once more, this time adding the company of his lovely wife and choosing a different restaurant, Fischvierterl , as well in Naschmarkt Wien (btw I really love this market, don’t miss it if you’re visiting the city!).
In comparison to Umarfisch which had a Scandinavian colder feel to it, design and atmosphere wise, Fishviertrl felt more cosy, like a family owned Italian restaurant, maybe because of its more classic design, carnations adorned the table, which I really found to be an elegant touch, or because the fact that Fishviertrl is also family owned. As well, the Italian feel could have come from the fast-talking, funny and loud waiter that made things even more pleasing. Anyways, I really liked both these restaurants and I would recommend them for a nice dinner in Vienna.
But getting back to oysters, they came as the same wonderful surprise as the previous time I had them. We ordered a bottle of Austrian white wine to wash them down, like old Hemingway said and it was memorable all over again.
I will say no more, but when you try oysters for the first time, and anything else for that matter, make it right, enjoy it, get the best of the experience. And it will be rewarding.
Thank you, Alex and Cip for your wonderful company and of course, for feeding me so well! 😉 Love you guys!