When you think of Charleston and food, oysters are likely one of the first things that come to mind. Here in the Lowcountry we love oysters- later in the year, oyster roasts are a common occurrence, and thought the year they are always a go to way to start a great meal at many establishments in town.
Once you become an oyster fan, there’s so much more to learn about this bivalve mollusk than you can even imagine. With the sheer variety of oysters available from the local Beaufort Lady Island to Rappahannock in Topping, VA, each variety has really unique characteristics that set it apart from the others. I recently went to NICO Shem Creek for their new Oyster Education Class with one of the most knowledgeable people I know about the topic, Chef Nico himself, behind the bar.
Sitting with a small group around the raw bar in the back of the restaurant, (and Oysterman wine in hand) you watch and listen as Chef Nico talks about his journey in opening Nico and what went into creating their goal of having the best oyster bar on Shem Creek. To do this, he needed to do some serious oyster research, which ended up becoming a trip up the coast with his friend Barton Seaver to stop by 8 different oyster farms from North Carolina to Walpole, Maine. All of this travel lead to the current oyster program at Nico.
After learning about the oysters and uniqueness of each farm, it’s time to try some of the oysters for yourself. But before you can do that, you get a proper lesson on shucking oysters by Chef Nico. Even after having oysters all these years, I still learned how to refine my technique a bit, especially in an effort to not damage the oyster inside during the shucking process.
For oyster fans, and those that just love learning about the food in general, it’s worth a visit to Nico for the Oyster Education Class, which happens every Monday. Even if you go for the stories alone from the adventures that lead to NICO, you’ll leave with a greater appreciation for oysters, how to shuck them and having some fun (and great conversation) along the way.