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Ask the expert: What's the best way for a novice to sample their first oyster?

Sean Smith head chef at the cliff townhouse

Something like Rockefeller Oysters are great. These are oysters with a purée of leafy green vegetables and cooked shallots that are topped with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. Because they are cooked and have other flavours people tend to find them less frightening.

Clarenbridge, Carlingford and Galway oysters are possibly the best you will find. Clarenbridge are richer; harvested in the Dunbulcan Bay the mixture of fresh and seawater helps create the rich taste I love.

Carlingford and Galway oysters are also among my favourites, eaten natural with red wine vinegar. The balance of flavours works really well, whilst still being very simple. With fresh, in-season Irish oysters you don't need to mess with them too much. They're already perfect!

The Cliff Townhouse's third Oyster Festival takes place throughout September with special events including an exciting Oyster Tasting Menu that runs all month.

The Cliff Townhouse, 22 St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2 www.theclifftownhouse.com