Eating Oysters on the half shell is one of my favorite things to do. Being originally from New England I have eaten lots of them harvested from the cold Northeast waters. In my opinion, cold water oysters are the best.
In early spring I did have some from Cape Hatteras, NC in the Outer Banks. They were harvested in the morning and by early afternoon I was enjoying them. I have to admit that they were some of the best I have ever had. In early spring the waters of NC are still very cold and these oysters were about as fresh as you can get.
Oyster shells should not be cracked or partially opened.
The meat of the oyster should be plump, and somewhat shiny. The oyster juice should be clear and should smell like the sea not foul or fishy.
Your oyster should be firmly attached to the shell and must be loosened with an oyster knife.
Serve with lemon and horseradish, your favorite cocktail sauce, or mignonette sauce Both are easy to make I have listed the ingredients for both below