PHOTO BY MICHAEL PIAZZA
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.
A NOTE ON DRINK PAIRINGS
Traditionalists point to chilled glasses of Chablis or other similar white wines as the only sensible accompaniments to oysters, but attitudes are changing. This recipe offers opportunities for beverage pairings as varied as a cold IPA, a glass of sake, a funky naturally fermented wine, a gin cocktail, even kombucha! Don’t be afraid to experiment.