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I am a proud and recent convert to the delights of the oyster, and quite frankly the start of the native season has come not a moment too soon. I can't believe there was once a time when I didn't eat, I can't get enough! You either love 'em or hate 'em...and there are even some unlucky folk like my friend Allegra who are highly allergic to this enticing bivalve...what a pity!

Many think oysters can only be eaten in a month with an "r" in it (ie, never eat an oyster in warmer months) However this only applies to the native oyster, which spawns and reproduces in the late spring and summer. We all need a bit of R & R, even oysters. Rock oysters can be eaten year round; but believe me, the natives are worth waiting for. Nutty, sweet, salty and rich, they are the pearl of the oyster world! My tip: ALWAYS chew, never just swallow.

The start of the Native season was celebrated at Bentley's in London with lashings of Champagne (what else?!) and oysters from Maldon in many varieties- Rockefeller, deep fried with HP sauce (surprisingly tasty), sweet & hot Vietnamese style...and of course au nature, with just a squeeze of lemon. Delicious!

Filippo Salamone from Bentley’s and Sebastien Torres from Mon Plaisir faced each other in an oyster shucking competition, and Filippo came out on top in style and quantity. Lucky for us, we got to eat his winning oysters; his top tasting tip? A squizz of lemon and crackle of black pepper. Here I am presenting Filippo with his prize, a bottle of vintage Champagne, alongside Bentley's head chef Richard Corrigan

You can read more about my Galway adventures in oyster eating in the writing section of my website.

Tomorrow: reportage on cheese, so stay tuned!


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