The Brew TM_BR_OYSTER_FI_001_1

Tell anyone who hasn’t heard of the style that you’re drinking an oyster stout and you’re sure to get strange looks. These looks are usually followed with questions like “Is it slimy?” and “Why are you drinking that?” What these folks don’t know, however, is that the use of oysters, and more specifically their shells, in beer is quite normal and is actually a very clever feat of brewing science. It’ll always sound weird to some people, but with a bit of background knowledge on the technique and its history you should be able to answer those nagging questions and maybe even convert a naysayer or two. MORE

Questionable Tastes TM_PG_MUSCAD_FI_001

Planet of the Grapes is now a series of digital wine guides from award-winning author Jason Wilson and Table Matters. Check out Volume 1: Alternative Reds today at Smart Set Press, and use the code MUSCADET for 50% off.

There are powerful wines and hedonistic wines. There are oaky wines and wines bursting with fruit. There are thrilling wines and profound wines. There are wines with beautifully-designed labels and wines with cute, easy-to-read labels. There are expensive wines and wines you keep in your cellar for decades.

Muscadet is absolutely none of these. MORE

Dispatches TM_DI_OYSTR_FI_002

When Denmark realized a few years ago that it had an oyster invasion, it turned the problem into a tourism opportunity, inciting people to gather up the pests and eat them. It wasn’t too difficult: Danes and oyster-eating go way back, at least to the Stone Age, as evidenced by ancient heaps of discarded shells called kjökkenmödding. In 1587, King Frederick II made oyster fishing a royal monopoly—those who broke the law three times risked the death penalty.

For most of their history, Danes ate the Ostrea edulis, a flat species indigenous to Europe that also goes by the name Belon (though this appellation is normally reserved for those that come from an estuary in France). But overfishing, pollution and disease have driven the flat oyster nearly to extinction, so the Pacific oyster, or Crassostrea gigas, is now the type most people eat the world over. Introduced from Asia to the United States in the early 20th century and to France in the 1960s, the Pacific is more resistant to parasites and variations in temperature. However, in some places—including the western coast of Denmark—it has become an invasive species, blanketing the sea floor like beds of concrete. MORE