About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Bargain Hunter
Further to the Ortiz saga, The Age newspaper Epicure section featured an anchovies tasting yesterday, in which the Ortiz anchovies came out on top. What caught my eye was the price mentioned for a tin was $13.50. The tin I looked at the other day was $16, so I emailed The Age to find out where they were purchased and Hilary McNevin replied that she had written that article some months ago and when she sweetly checked the current price, David Jones were selling them for $12.50. Cheaper, but not as cheap as New Zealand, our close neighbour. Reb from CucinaRebecca, who has just returned from there, said to me that Ortiz anchovies could be had for Aus$8.

I've always had the feeling that these little devils may be a tad overpriced here.

Speaking of price, we had a tin of smoked oysters the other day. I developed a taste for them when I was young and every so often open up and eat a whole tin. In my trip to Casa Iberica, I bought a tin of them to try and they cost me two or three dollars. When I showed my wife, she said that the Aldi grocery store sold them much cheaper, about $1 a tin. Well I don't feel ripped off at a couple of dollars a tin, but it did start me wondering.

You see, in a tin of smoked oysters there would be about a dozen shellfish. When was the last time you bought fresh oysters? How much did you pay? The going rate for an oyster is about $1 each, depending on the variety. How is it that someone can put a dozen oysters in a tin for less than two dollars? That's buying in the oysters, opening and smoking them, then packing in a tin with some oil.

Someone is making a lot of money.

When we visited Tasmania we went to an oyster farm and in what passed as a showroom was an unattended fridge. In it were plates of opened oysters ready to eat, the same oysters that I could have purchased in Melbourne for about two thirds of the price - this at the farm gate so to speak.

Maybe that's why I buy far more mussels than oysters. Raw mussels are just as nice as raw oysters too. And easier to open, simply pull off the beard and slip a thin bladed knife into one half of the shell and work it around until you have sliced off the tendon that holds the mussel shut. You can serve them with any dipping sauce that works for oysters.
  posted at 12:55 pm

At 2:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't throw me overboard.

At 3:38 pm, Blogger Ed said...

I saw that Age story. She needed to try the Always fresh from Coles at $2.75. I promise this expensive blog post is coming soon.
BTW Mussels at Portarlington Pier $4 a kilo!

At 4:28 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, if you go over I'm coming too! That's too many oysters or mussels for one person, plus I know how to open them.

Hi ed, one of us will get there eventually. Gotta love the Portarlington Pier. Think I might show my recipe for mussels with parsley and garlic soon, gratinated in the shell.

At 3:10 pm, Blogger Little Mr Square Eyes said...

I'm guessing the Tassie oyster farm was a certain establishment on the east coast. Personally, I find pacific oysters a tad large and better suited to cooking than eating in their natural state.

At 6:12 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi little mr square eyes, I believe we are talking about the one and the same oyster farm, so long as it's the one near a national park. My wife D doesn't really go for raw oysters, I will definitely search out some pacifics to try. How do you cook yours?

At 12:51 pm, Blogger Little Mr Square Eyes said...

Hi Neil - I have a venerable (i.e. tattered and torn) Good Weekend recipe from Steve Snow of Fins for steamed oysters with kaffir lime leaf, chilli and ginger. Big pacifics also seem to work well as tempura.

Pity about your farm-gate experience. The establishment in question changed hands late last year so possibly things have improved.

At 11:08 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

You are right - how is it possible that prepared and canned oysters can possibly cost LESS than the fresh, unadulterated ones?!? But the fresh ones are soooo irresistable. I have never tried raw mussels (I'm more of a garlic butter kinda girl ;-)) but have tried raw clams. Surely mussels can't be that different...

And Aldi (like Lidl) can be a real treasure trove for exotic goodies.


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