Saturday was the annual oyster pig-out in the parking lot of Americas finest strip mall anchored by Café Fanny, Acme Bread, and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant of Berkeley. Instead of my usual late arrival, I shocked even myself by showing up at 10:20am, ahead of starting time when the staff were still setting up the tables and chairs under the tent. It was all the better to get a jump on the line at Café Fanny and to stake out a table for friends on the way.
For a solid start to the day, breakfast from Fanny was two poached eggs with prosciutto on toasted pan levain and a café au lait. The eggs were barely jiggly with just the right amount of runniness when punctured to coat the top of the prosciutto-piled open face sandwiches but not slip over the edge, making them easy to eat out of hand. The perfect café au lait was soothing and mild. Perhaps this was more than I really wanted, but I needed the platter and silverware to serve the cheeses leftover from the previous weekend. :D
From Acme, we shared ham and cheese filled turnovers. Deliciously warm from the oven and very rich with melted cheese, bits of salty ham, and rustic layers of flaky pastry. Pain epine was the foil for our cheeses.
Christopher Lees new Eccolo and Hog Island manned the oyster shucking and sausage grilling station. The standard plate was $18 for a half dozen Sweetwater oysters, a chubby sausage made of Niman Ranch pork, a pile of dressed greens, and a length of Acme baguette. Sad to see the price creep up this high, yet, the oyster plate is carefully constructed. The tiny and sweet oysters on the half shell are expertly shucked with few shell fragments, nestled on a bed of cracked ice and seaweed and served with lemon wedges and a refined mignonette of champagne vinegar. This time the sausage seemed a little unfinished, as if the cure had not been given enough time to meld throughout. Still enjoyable, especially when washed down with Kermits wines.
From the wine tent, we shared glasses of the selected Muscadet, Rully, Cheverny, and Chablis. The crisp and sauvage Cherverny sauvignon blanc lived up to its name with a pungent and peppery nose and nice flinty finish. And, again, the Muscadet proved its time-honored pairing with the oysters. We also polished off bottles of
2002 Ch. La Roque rosé
2002 Clos Magdelein Cassis rosé
1993 Lasalle Cuvee Angeline Champagne
2002 Jean Foillard Cote de Py Morgon
2001 Pierre Guillemot Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru Serpentieres
2001 Les Pallieres Gigondas
The non-oyster and pork eaters among our group enjoyed a variety of sandwiches from Café Fanny. The café set up separate stations outside for sweet baked goods and drinking water that helped cut down on the long lines. For dessert, I picked a macaroon, two good sized cookies sandwiched with a thick curd-like filling. Really dense and chewy, this might be the best almond macaroon Ive ever had.
Odette, the squeezebox lady, was replaced this year by a Zydeco band. While there were times when it was hard to find a seat, there were definite lulls. I dont recall ever seeing the line wind out onto the sidewalk. Attendance seemed down a bit this year, surprising given how beautiful the weather was for an outdoor party.
Impressions from others who took part?