Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback

Devils on Horseback

In this version of the classic hors d'oeuvre, oysters are cooked with garlic and wine, then set "astride" toasted garlic bread slices and sprinkled with bacon.Todd Coleman

In my 20s there were writers' groups; in my 30s, exercise groups; in my 40s, book groups; and now, there are only oysters. My unofficial oyster "club" is a ragtag team consisting of a bickering unmarried couple, two divorced mothers, and a 300-pound man. In Los Angeles, when our local supermarket had oysters on sale four for a dollar, we consumed two dozen raw ones apiece, of which, in my case, all but one was perfectly fresh. We partook in a frequent flier-mile jaunt to New Orleans. There, breakfast involved deck-clearing bloody marys; lunch, a fress of oyster po' boys and oyster loaf sandwiches (think 20 oysters chain-ganged together into a meat loaf—like mass). Where some of us met our match, though, was on the fog-shrouded Northern California coast. My partner Charles and myself, aka the Bickersons, were at the time on a lengthy road trip that involved a food-related argument. That didn't stop us from noticing the dreamy pewter-gray Pacific, and here it was almost dinnertime in—where were we?—Cambria! Intuition led us to the Sea Chest, the favorite local seafood joint, so popular that a line already awaited its opening. Upon flopping open the menu, we saw oysters Rockefeller, oysters casino, oyster stew, and what the...? "Devils on horseback": huge bacon-dressed oysters sauteed and plumped in garlic, butter, and white wine riding atop sourdough rounds weeping with oyster liquor. Usually, a dish by that name features prunes wrapped in bacon; when the oysters are swapped in, the "devils" become "angels." But whoever wrote the Sea Chest's menu knew these morsels were too diabolically delicious to be otherwise named. As Charles later described to our club in stage whisper: "Mounted astride these 'steeds' are oysters clad in strips of darkly crisped hickory-smoked bacon, teetering with the obscene bravado one could only expect from the Lord of Darkness."

The Sea Chest
6216 Moonstone Beach Drive
Cambria, California
805/927-4514