My recipe for mignonette (a classic French condiment consisting of a combination of vinegar, shallots and black pepper) is based on one that I found as a subscriber to the now defunct “Gourmet” magazine in 2005 and then fine tuned to reflect our tastes and it’s interaction with salty, briny Eastern Shore of Virginia oysters harvested from the Chesapeake Bay and the North Atlantic. The link to that wonderful recipe follows: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/oysters-with-champagne-vinegar-mignonette-232602
The Moonstruck Cottage (our Eastern Shore of Virginia home on the Chesapeake Bay) interpretation of the “Gourmet” magazine version doesn’t stray too far from the original but there are a couple of key differences. I don’t garnish my raw oysters with champagne grapes and I add artisanal honey instead of granulated sugar–it melds much more readily with the milder acid of champagne vinegar and adds a floral sip of sweet nectar to the mignonette that brings that perfect level of balance to the condiment.
In the world of wine there is often much discussion about a specific wine’s terroir–that characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine grape by it’s plant’s environment including factors soil, topography, and climate. The flavor of locally produced honey also reflects the terroir of wildflower flora surrounding the hives of the beekeeper and his bees. Those of us that make the time to hunt down a local beekeeper for those small, artisanal batches of honey will be rewarded with layers of flavor in a nectar that melds the allure and summer sunshine of a wildflower banquet in single, golden drop.
I am fortunate to have access to the best honey that I have ever had and it can only be found at Jay and Queles H.’s ZuniBee Farms just outside of Zuni, Virginia–a tiny, rural village incorporated in the early 1700s and nestled along the bank of the dark, lazy Blackwater River. Small artisanal quality batches are only infrequently available because they maintain a long list of lucky “regulars” that they satisfy first! Check out Jay’s Website and blog on www.ZuniBeeFarms.com for a host of valuable information on beekeeping and aquaponics! Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to score some of this year’s ZuniBee Farms honey–but ONLY after I get mine!
Briny raw and smoky fire-roasted Sewanescott oysters from the Chesapeake Bay with “Moonstruck Mignonette”–my “spike” on a French classic melding champagne vinegar, local honey, Italian parsley, shallots and the smoky bite of freshly cracked black pepper! Pair it with a bottle of French Tavel and you have an Eastern Shore of Virginia tango on the palate that is QUITE capable of rolling your eyes back in your head in pure and absolute foodie bliss!
Oh, sorry! Gotta run! They’ve already started the fire and there’s a whole lotta shucking’ and slurping to be done! It’s this season’s last oyster feast!
Wish you were here!
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
2T. minced shallots
20 twists of freshly cracked, coarse grind black pepper
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons of minced Italian flat leaf parsley
Stir together prepared ingredients and let sit for an hour or two before serving to allow the flavors to meld. (Tip: Make it the day before and you’ll find that fusion of sweet, acid, herb and black pepper will have smoothed and mellowed! So much sexier!)
Serve by tiny spoonfuls drizzled on raw oysters on the half shell or fire roasted oyster that have just opened their shells.