The first time I ever ate an oyster I was at an extremely high-end event I was covering for a business magazine and I eyed it with scepticism. Brought up on fish fingers, oysters held a mystery to me. Have you seen what they look like? Yuck. Then, one of my contacts, noticing me eyeing the platter of ice with oysters nestled gently within it, suggested he show me how it was done. A little sprinkle of red wine vinegar and chopped shallots over the top and then down in one.
I copied him and that was it. My love of oysters began. The incredible sweetness of the meat, offset by something acidic, like a simple squeeze of lemon or, the aforementioned red wine vinegar concoction – which I later learnt was called mignonette, a delicious mix of chopped onion or shallot, with vinegar, sugar and seasoning – and I’m in heaven.
I’m not the only one with an oyster addiction – enter the fabulous Brighton Oyster Boys. An incredible new company with an entrepreneurial vision, the ‘boys’, headed up by Gabriel Marsden are based in Brighton and spotted a gap in the market in the seaside city.
“Oyster delivery,” Gabriel explains, “whilst there are some fantastic restaurants around the town which sell oysters, and do them very well, there’s no way of getting them delivered to your door along with all the bits you need for the full treat. So that’s what we’re doing. We love oysters, and for me, oysters come with an occasion – they’re a real celebratory dish, when you have them you just have that feeling where everyone is enjoying themselves and for me, oysters always comes with a really good time.”
Gabriel enjoyed holidays in Norfolk growing up and remembers the joy which came with the delivery of oysters his family would order.
“We’d have a box of oysters and there would be a sense of happiness amongst us all, which we want to emulate for our customers. I remember everyone enjoying them and they all had different techniques for getting them out of the shell. There was a sense of community and fun.”
For Gabriel, and his three business partners Milo Young, Lloyd Destro and Lucas Wan who met at the University of Sussex, they love living in Brighton, but realised that one of the things they all enjoy – oysters – could only be found in a restaurant.
“We all have the same passion for oysters and consider ourselves entrepreneurial,” Gabriel explains, “we decided we wanted to provide something for Brighton, to support the fishing community and have a focus on sustainability and local produce.”
It’s a tall ask but when you read what’s in each of the hampers which can be delivered to any Brighton, Hove, Worthing and surrounding area household, you realise how much they’re sticking to their plans. From oysters sourced from Jersey and Whitstable, to the delicious wines which accompany the seafood from a local vineyard, the hot sauce from a Brighton supplier and even the onions in the mignonette, everything is as locally sourced as possible.
Gabriel gave me a run-down of what’s in each hamper and I tried very hard not to dribble on the keyboard, see how you do –
- The South Downs Hamper: 24 Jersey rock oysters, Bolney Estate Bubbly, mignonette, Bloody Mary, Koji Kins hot sauce, caviar, seaweed flakes, one lemon and a shucker knife.
- The Lanes Hamper: 24 Jersey rock oysters, Bolney Estate Pinot Gris, mignonette, Bloody Mary, Koji Kins hot sauce, a surprise garnish which changes each week, one lemon and a shucker knife.
- The West Pier hamper: 12 Jersey rock oysters, Bolney Estate Pinot Gris, mignonette, Bloody Mary, Koji Kins hot sauce, a surprise garnish, one lemon and a shucker knife.
Is your mouth watering? I thought so.
“Now we’re able to meet up with friends and families it’s the perfect time to celebrate being together again, and what better way to do it than a hamper full of delicious treats you can all enjoy. Our aim is to make any occasion a night to remember,” Gabriel explains enthusiastically.
The problem you’ll have is deciding which hamper you’ll choose. Just make sure you place the order three days in advance so these Brighton oysters can be sourced and leave the rest to the Oyster Boys.
Contributed by Lisa Brace.
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