Pink Oysters

As one of the major players in the Mediterranean shellfish business, Médithau has always based its reputation on quality oysters and mussels fished from the Bassin de Thau. That is until now. For the past few years, the company has put into place a particularly innovative and bold production procedure which has resulted in the cultivation of an oyster unlike any other: the pink oyster.

In order to provide a high quality oyster that differentiates itself from any other, Médithau’s CEO Florent Tarbouriech had the idea of recreating the natural tidal flows of the Atlantic but in the Etang de Thau. Traditional oysters are immersed in the lake and are continually fed but Spéciale Tarbouriech ® oysters — as the pink oysters have become known — are glued to a rope which, with the help of solar power, are regularly lifted and brought out of the water, thus creating a tidal effect without damaging the surrounding environment.

These daily water movements are precisely programmed according to varying criteria such as sunlight and temperature and are the result of years of studies and observations. The conclusions of these tests well merit the research and work invested. After three years of cultivation the Spéciale Tarbouriech ® oysters are beautifully jagged, their pearly insides are immaculately white, they have plenty of flesh and their shells display a bright pink, caused by their exposure to the sun, which is totally unique. They have a slightly salty flavour which is almost sweet and are somewhere between soft and crunchie.

It is well known that professional restaurant owners, especially in France, cannot be fooled and very quickly the pink oyster has become a regular feature on the most prestigious menus. The challenge that Médithau face now is to respond to this rapid success and adapt the cultivation to satisfy an ever growing demand. Unsurprisingly, even here, yet again the company are using innovative methods.

With a concern for sustainable development, Médithau are sharing their new techniques with partner companies in the shellfish industry who are based in the Bassin de Thau by training them how to produce pink oysters in only two years.

Locally born and proud of his heritage, Florent Tarbouriech couldn’t envisage his pink oysters being enjoyed exclusively at Michelin starred tables so he now offers a chance for everybody to taste them at the St Barth' in Marseillan — an old stone building formerly used in the shellfish industry which has kept all its character and charm. Coming to taste oysters here is a moment of relaxation, sampling the taste of the sea, sipping a glass of carefully selected wine whilst dipping your feet in the cool sand of the lake — who could ask for more!

Vincent Mallard