Pop quiz: What is an “Écailler?”
In French, the word roughly translates into “to scale” or “to open.”
Perhaps a better question is, who is an “Écailler?” In French, seaside villages in the 1800s, market-goers were just as hungry for fresh oysters and other shellfish as we are today. And like modern times, 19th century oyster consumers required a hand when popping open those briny mouthfuls of seafood heaven.
What we call “shuckers” in this day and age were more elegantly referred to as “Écaillers” in the French, seaside markets of the 1800s. Écaillers merely didn’t just shuck your oyster though. Their own palates was refined and sophisticated enough to carefully select the oysters and other shellfish with the most pleasing and advanced flavor profiles providing the highest quality oyster to whoever was buying. Today, PB Catch Seafood & Raw in Palm Beach bar is keeping that tradition alive.
Meet Joseph Lipson, PB Catch’s resident Écailler.
“There are no bad oysters, just preference,” said Lipson as he described his own strict selection process when choosing the eight to 10 different oyster varieties offered on any given night at PB Catch.
Lipson chooses his oysters by region. His favorite region: the Northeast.
“As most people know, the colder the water, the better the oyster,” Lipson said.
Lipson chooses his Northeastern varieties from places such as Prince Edward Island and describes the flavor profile of these medium size delicacies as “super briny with a delicate texture.’’
Lipson also brings in West Coast oysters, which are smaller with a meatier texture and almost fruit-like finish. Lipson equates the flavor profile to “being hit in the face with a beach wave.”
When ordering oysters and other pieces of shellfish at the raw bar at PB Catch, don’t expect to just take shots in the dark. Guests can anticipate an almost interview-like conversation with Lipson that can last up to 10 minutes. Guests discuss with Lipson with oysters and seafood in general, as well as their own palates and which variety on ice on that particular day will leave them most satisfied.
A sophisticated experience with a sophisticated man. Lipson is no ordinary shucker.