Oysters Aw, Shucks

Eat oysters only in the "R" months? Not anymore, thanks to refrigeration and oyster farming. Still, for purists, September through December is the season of the slurp.

Name that bivalve: Extensive oyster menus can be daunting. Some general guidelines: Atlantic oysters are most common on U.S. menus; try the Duxbury or the saltier Wellfleet. An oyster novice? Skip Europe's briny Belon. Go with the subtler Pacific Kumamoto.

Get saucy: Traditionally, raw oysters are garnished with mignonette sauce--red-wine vinegar, pepper and shallots. Or try them with Worcestershire, lemon, horseradish and even cocktail sauce.

Cheers! A nice dry bubbly brings out the oyster's brine. Or do like the French: order a glass of crisp, clean Sancerre.

Order away: Living inland? Buy oysters online. Raw-bar guru Gordon Hamersley, of Boston's Hamersley's Bistro, prefers www.captainmardens.com, or try farm-2-market.com. Just get cracking.