The oyster may just be the most evocative culinary symbol of passion. Named as one of the top aphrodisiacs, what better – or finer – way to start your Valentine's Day meal?
A man who knows exactly how to cook them is celebrated chef Mark Hix, the restaurateur and food writer known for his original take on British gastronomy.
As chef director of Caprice Holdings for 17 years, Mark oversaw the menus and events at some of London's most exclusive restaurants including celebrity favourites The Ivy and Le Caprice.
After opening his first restaurant in 2008 – the distinguished Hix Oyster & Chop House in London's Smithfield, where the menu would often feature oysters from around the British Isles, Mark went on to create five more popular eateries. From the stunning seaview restaurant Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis and the award-winning Mark's Bar, to the latest Tramshed, all have received critical acclaim.
Oysters are at their best at this time of year, so there's no better opportunity to enjoy this finest food of love with Mark Hix's seashore salad recipe.
More recipes for romance...
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Home tips for oysters...
• For the best flavour, eat as soon as possible. If you do need to store oysters, lay them flat side up on a tray in the fridge and cover with a damp cloth, replacing it if it dries out. They will keep for two days stored like this.
• Oh shucks! To shuck fresh oysters, you need a thick tea towel and an oyster knife (or couteau à huitres), which has a short fat blade and guard. Wrap the tea towel around the wrist and hand holding the oyster, in case the knife slips. Carefully insert the blade of the knife into the narrow hinge end of the shell, then work the knife until the ligament is severed. Next, prise the top and bottom shells apart by working the blade around between them. Remove the top shell, then loosen the oyster from the bottom one.
Try them cooked... Grilled oysters
Mark, frequently dubbed one of London's most eminent restaurateurs, is also the author of a number of cookbooks on British cuisine including HIX Oyster & Chop House by Mark Hix, published by Quadrille.
HIX Oyster & Chop House will be hosting an evening of wine and oysters on February 26. For further information and to buy tickets call 020 7017 1930.