There is a special reason why people need to jump on board the South Melbourne Market train. Of course it boasts superior produce, the best flowers in Melbourne and an African animal onesie selection absolutely second to none, but more so than that – pick n’ mix oysters!
There aren’t too many markets (dare I say none in Melbourne) where you can buy individual oysters and for someone who is fortunate enough to have chosen molluscs as my addiction, Aptus Seafoods at South Melbourne Market is my one stop shop for a quick slurp if I’m feeling jittery and in need of a salty hit.
Fact is, I am a decent person and all but I would sell my grandmother (God bless your soul, woman) for a singular oyster if the craving so calls for, so when I passed by Aptus last weekend, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A distant choir of sea-angels started singing and the oyster cabinet lit up with a heavenly glow.
It was as if I had reached my sacred ‘home’. When I asked owner Angelo Zahos what gastronomic sales genius had come up with this idea, he said essentially customer demand had driven the decision “We’ve been at South Melbourne since 1969 and the single oysters have been with us for a while now – they are extremely popular”. Angelo is a second generation fish monger and knows his oysters like a mother knows her child. “We source oysters from all over the country, mainly South Australia and Tasmania but if you need specific oysters, we can get them – even the ‘angasi’ wild oyster from Victoria”.
The next thing I knew, a tray of oysters were presented and I was transported to bi-valve heaven – Coffin Bay, St Helens, Bruny Island… oh my goodness.
While the St Helens are big, fat and creamy, the Bruny Islands at the other end of the scale are delicate and light – little ocean ballerinas.
Unless you are going to start an oyster farm or have a particular interest in the etymology of oysters, I would avoid researching their life cycle because it reads like a 1970’s Hustler magazine. Let me fill you in on what you need to know about this delicious beast. They are good for you: full of zinc and iodine, chock-a-block full of protein, stacks of vitamins including A, C and B-12 and they’re kind to your waistline if you are that way inclined – an average 10gms of fat per half dozen.
What, I ask you, is not to love? Present a selection of these bad boys at your next dinner party then sit back and watch the shock and awe at your superior oyster knowledge (even if you have none). “what, these? oh just a tasting platter of the finest oysters IN THE WHOLE OF THE LAND”. Twirl your mo, shine your brogues, adjust your braces.
An oyster obsessive, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with oyster flavour pairings and this one was Ball Park good. You may think that the saltiness of the chorizo may conflict with the sea-salty oyster but au contraire – choose a spicy chorizo and the creaminess of the oyster enveloped that picante pimento and fattiness of the sausage. Take 1 spicy chorizo, remove the skin. With wooden spoon smash the daylights out of the sausage in a searing hot pan until it breaks up and fry’s its way to little crumbs. Sprinkle on your big St Helens Oysters and throw a chive leaf on there. Culinary excellence.