Make the saffron cream:
- Heat white wine and saffron in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half, to about 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat and cool. Discard saffron threads.
- Whisk reduced wine into crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Makes 1 cup)
For the homemade oyster crackers:
- Sift together flour and salt into a medium bowl and stir in the pepper. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut butter to flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring just until the mixture begins to stick together and form a dough.
- Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a small disk, wrapping tightly. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dough on a well-floured work surface. Roll until dough is almost paper-thin, sprinkling additional flour as needed to keep from sticking. Dough should be thin but not tearing.
- Use a 1½-inch round cutter to punch out circles out of dough. Use a spatula to transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Do not re-roll dough scraps, as it will make tough crackers.
- Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush egg wash over tops of crackers, then sprinkle with salt.
- Bake crackers until slightly puffed and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully toward the end of baking time as crackers will begin to brown quickly. Remove from oven and cool completely on a baking sheet. (Makes about 80 crackers)
For the chowder:
- Heat peanut oil in a medium stockpot over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, just until roux begins to turn a light golden color, about 5 minutes. (Be careful not to let it burn or get too dark.)
- Add onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in clam juice or fish stock, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cream and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in oysters and their liquor and cook, stirring, just until oysters are heated through, about 30 seconds,. Remove from the heat.
- Spoon into warmed soup bowls and garnish each with a couple tablespoons of saffron cream and a teaspoon of chives. Serve warm with homemade oyster crackers.