I first tried raw oysters with flavored ice at the outstanding Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine. I, formerly of the camp that anything more than a squeeze of lemon ruins oysters, was blown away by a pickled red onion ice that entirely changed my view. The contrasting textures and temperatures make granita one of raw oysters’ most compelling condiments. For the autumn, I turned to cranberries and sumac for tartness and acidity—more audacious than a squeeze of lemon, but the oysters can handle it.
1 cup fresh cranberries (frozen is fine if fresh are unavailable)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sumac
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 dozen oysters
Place a 13- by 9-inch rimmed baking sheet in the freezer. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine cranberries, water, sugar, sumac and vinegar, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling and the cranberries have popped (about 5 minutes), transfer to blender and blend until smooth.
Strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding any chunks. Transfer to the baking sheet, making sure all the surface area is covered.
Leave to set up in the freezer, stirring every 30–40 minutes for about 2½ hours, until it reaches a slushy consistency.
Have on hand a platter or large plate covered in crushed ice. Shuck the oysters and top each with a small spoonful of granita, placing 1 at a time over ice on the platter until all of the oysters are ready. Serve immediately.
LUKE PYENSON is a food and travel writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer based in New York City. You can see examples of his work at www.lukepyenson.com.