Cheap Fat Oysters and Cold Shiner Bock

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As I drove by Pappa's Brothers Seafood on Shepherd yesterday afternoon around four o'clock, I noticed that the sign advertising oysters for $3.95 a dozen wasn't up anymore. I pulled over anyway and went inside to ask if the promotion was still going on. "Let me see," said the bartender pushing a button on the video screen of the cash register. "Yes, they are still $3.95." I ordered a dozen.

A reader named Gerald sent me an e-mail asking about oysters recently. He said his upstairs neighbor who is a waiter at Jimmy Wilson's told him the oysters they are currently serving at the restaurant are from Mississippi since everything in Galveston Bay got Ike'd. So I asked the bartender at Pappa's Brothers if I could see the bag tag. She looked at it and said the oysters were from Galveston Bay.

"We had some Mississippi oysters and some Louisiana oysters before, but now they're coming from Galveston Bay again," she said. Earlier in the season, I reported getting some unimpressive Galveston Bay oysters, but the ones I had yesterday afternoon were awesome. I ate them out on the patio overlooking Shepherd with a draft of Shiner Bock. At $4.95, the Shiner cost more than the oysters. The mollusks were so fat and sweet and cheap, I knew I would regret it if I didn't eat another dozen. So I ordered some more.

I had just done an interview about Sex, Death & Oysters for "A Chef's Table" Jim Coleman's radio show that originates from WHYY in Philadelphia. Coleman is from Dallas, and he told me the high temperature in Philly was 20 degrees yesterday. The high temperature in Houston was 66. I felt a little spoiled sitting outside on a pretty January afternoon, eating cheap oysters and drinking beer with our countrymen on the East Coast fighting frostbite. So I ordered another beer to help me get over my guilt.

I asked the manager how long the $3.95 a dozen promotion would be going on. He said it was supposed to be over already, and the price would return to $7.95 a dozen soon--at least at the Shepherd location. Other Pappa's Brothers Seafood restaurants may keep it going longer.

Gerald also asked me where he could buy oysters retail. As I reported before the holidays, Louisiana Foods, a wholesaler located near I-10 and 610, has a retail storefront where you can buy a sack of 100 Gulf oysters or a box of 100 Apalachicolas for around $40. They also have East Coast oysters for $75 to $100 for a box of 100. The only place I know that sells individual oysters is Central Market. They are currently selling Connecticut Blue Points for $1.49 and Malpeques for $1.69 apiece. The seafood counter manager at Central Market said they sometimes sell Gulf oysters for around 59 cents each, but they don't get a lot of demand for them.

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