EATS, DRINKS + CELEBRATE | Who dat? It’s our Oysters Virginia with Hot-Not Hot Sauce, and all the delish details of the Bayou Bon Vivant festival in Norfolk


The Bayou Bon Vivant Cajun Music, Food & Art Celebration is a great opportunity to indulge in the flavors of New Orleans. This three-day celebration of the tastes, tunes, and traditions of the Crescent City offers everything from juicy handfuls of crawfish to world-renowned N’awlins jazz musicians in the vibrant spirit of Louisiana.

The event, presented by our friends at Norfolk Festevents, takes place Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, 2023 at the Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. Look for crafters, exhibits, music, and mouthwatering Cajun dishes such as beignets, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, and more. 

For more information, visit

Oysters are enjoyed in many ways, including as Oysters Rockefeller, the famous 1899 creation of Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans. Because of the rich nature of the dish, it was named after one of the era’s One Percent: John D. Rockefeller. Traditional components were oysters on the half-shell topped with a creamy spinach sauce, then sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked. Virginia peanuts and ham add a salty tang — and regional twist — to this traditional preparation.



2 wafer-thin slices Virginia/country ham, finely chopped

1 cup arugula 

1⁄2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped 

1⁄4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, preferably Virginia-type 

3 garlic cloves, peeled 

2 spring onions, white and green parts 

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese 

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 

1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt 

1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Rock salt 

24 oysters, shucked and shells reserved 

1⁄4 cup fine breadcrumbs 

24 thin (1-inch-square) slices cheddar or other firm or semifirm cheese

Lemon wedges, for serving


Pulse the ham, arugula, parsley, peanuts, garlic, onion, parmesan, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper flakes in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. 

Drizzle in the olive oil with the motor running. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Fold in the ham and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 450F. Arrange the oysters in the shells on a large baking sheet, using piles of rock salt to steady them. Put a heaping teaspoon of the paste on each oyster and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.  

Cook the oysters for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture starts to become golden. Top each oyster with a slice of cheese and bake 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until the cheese melts and browns. 

Serve the oysters over a bed of rock salt or seaweed immediately with lemon wedges as garnish. Offer hot sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling; our recipe is below.

Yields 2-3 servings


Butter mellows the heat from hot sauce, while lemon juice gives a bright pop, making this a hot, but not so hot, sauce to enjoy.


1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Tabasco

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Whisk the butter, hot sauce, lemon juice, and pepper together in a medium bowl until combined.

Yields approximately 1 cup

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