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National Oyster Day Nets Unique Treats

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- Probably the most well-known aphrodisiac, oysters are also extremely nutritious foods. And since they're as popular as ever, top chefs across the country are experimenting with new and unusual preparations of this gentle mollusk. Thus for National Oyster Day, which arrives Friday, TravelsinTaste has compiled a list of some unique oyster preparations for this foodie holiday or any day:

In Vegas there's no shortage of interesting, exotic preparations for drinking and eating. One of the most playful dishes is Chef Sammy DeMarco's oysters at First Food & Bar at the Palazzo, which are crisp oysters with seaweed salad, pickled ginger and wasabi mayo. The seaweed salad sits beneath freshly shucked panko breaded oysters with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled vegetables, along with pickled ginger. It's almost as if you're having an oyster roll, like a sushi roll. He developed the dish in 1994 and its popularity remains unrivaled.
Oysters at First Food & Bar, a staple in Chef Sammy DeMarco's repertoire since 1994.

If crisp with Japanese flair appeals to you, chefs and restaurateurs Eric and Bruce Bromberg's Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at the Cosmopolitan prepares oyster and okra tempura with wasabi mayo and tempura sauce. On the lighter side, Top Chef Master finalist Rick Moonen is serving oysters with a cucumber-sorrel slushy on his upstairs menu at RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay.

At Sage in Aria, Executive Chef Shawn McClain serves market oysters with a twist, adding piquillo pepper and Tabasco sorbet in addition to an aged tequila mignonette. Top Chef Master contestant Hubert Keller takes it one step further in playfulness at Fleur by Hubert Keller, where he serves oysters prepared with liquid nitrogen, margarita sorbet and orange puree. For a dash of extravagance, Executive Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglio's tasting menu at Sirio in the Aria Resort & Casino includes Ostriche Sul Ghiccio Con Caviale Americano -- simply put, two Mystic oysters on ice with paddlefish caviar.

If you happen to be in Chicago, high above the Loop on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange is where renowned Chef-Proprietor Jean Joho presides over the ever-elegant award-winning restaurant Everest, known the world over for its authentically French cuisine, not to mention its art-gallery atmosphere and sweeping views of the Windy City. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux/Relais Gourmand and Traditions & Qualite restaurant collections, Joho's meticulous attention to detail is just as evident in his oysters with horseradish and cucumber riesling fleurette.

Shaw's Crab House, on the other hand, pays homage to the oyster with an oyster shooter of freshly shucked oyster, Absolut Peppar, cocktail sauce and Tabasco in addition to serving multiple varieties of oysters on the half shell and its famous Oysters Rockefeller. Grant Achatz's Alinea, known for its cutting-edge cuisine and serving up Chicago as a foodie destination, showcases an Oyster Leaf Mignonette.

In the original foodie destination, New York, American icon the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant serves 16 to 17 varieties of oysters daily from all over the world, including such specialties as oysters from Beaver Tail, R.I.; Clevedon Coast in New Zealand; Hog Neck Bay in Long Island; Deer Creek in Washington; and the more well known Kumamoto from California, Malpeque from Prince Edward Island and Wellfleet from Massachusetts. Not to be outdone, the hip John Dory Oyster Bar is where executive chef/co-owner April Bloomfield not only serves a raw bar, but prepares an oyster pan roast with uni crostini!

While downtown in New York's Financial District, find Michelin-starred SHO Shaun Hergatt, where chef and proprietor Shaun Hergatt serves a summer menu with Kumamoto oysters prepared with oyster leaf, junsai, young ginger and summer granite. (Junsai, a deep maroon flower, is considered by many a Japanese delicacy with medicinal qualities.)

A bit farther north, in Tribeca, the latest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione, serves up a signature appetizer of barbecue-baked Olde Salt & Hummock Island oysters with aromatic sea salt and pancetta powder at his eponymous restaurant. The recipe draws inspiration from a preparation by his father, culinary luminary Larry Forgione, and interestingly enough combines cheese with seafood -- long thought of as a no-no in the curlinary world. Well, forget that; Marc Forgione, who tells us the cheese is from Mark Miller, one of his father's good friends, assures us there's cheese on every one of oysters!

Cheers to the oyster on its special day.

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