Stepping into Wiltons feels like travelling back in time. Wall sconces emitting a warm glow, luxuriant velvet upholstery and intimate booths in secreted away corners of the restaurant lend an air of understated sophistication.
This self described ‘Bastion of Britishness’ on Jermyn Street, London, has been supplying oysters to the royal household since 1836 and I was lucky enough to be invited to experience the finest oysters from the British Isles at a masterclass.
The 90-minute oyster masterclass is for both the novice or the aficionado to learn about opening and eating oysters, find out the health benefits, and sample a range of the freshest fare.
Held at 6pm on the first Monday of every month, the class includes a relaxed but engaging presentation, a dozen oysters, a glass of Champagne and two glasses of white wine.
Participants will learn about the history of Wiltons, including the famous Sam, an employee who worked at Wilton’s for more than 34 years and opened 1,000 oysters a day; and all about oysters themselves including how to prepare them for eating.
We started off with a chilled glass of Wiltons 275th Anniversary Special Cuvee, as the first plate of six undressed oysters was brought out. These are opened and served directly at the bar so you can be confident of their freshness.
Oysters ranged from the Carlingford Rock, Ireland variety with a salty, minerally taste to the sweet, nutty Falmouth Native oysters with a hint of algae flavour. Lemon is optional but these delicacies are always best experienced in their natural state. A Wiltons Chablis 2015, Domaine Jean Durup complemented this first round of tasting.
Moving on to the dressed oysters, an accompanying glass of Sancerre 2015, Domaine Jean Paul Balland from the Loire Valley was poured. An eclectic and imaginative range of flavours were imagined in the dressings, from Thai style in a creamy curry sauce, to champagne gelee with lemon juice and caviar. The highlight for me was the piece de resistance – Oysters ‘Christian Dior’, with white wine sauce, truffle and whipped cream.
Sadly the 90 minutes comes to an end far too soon, and there is only time to be starstruck while collecting my coat, as Camilla Parker Bowles breezed past me.
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