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Food

Shuck It: Montreal's 3rd Annual Oysterfest

Posted by Jer / September 14, 2011

Oysterfest Russ Cooper loves oysters. He may even *love* oysters, judging by his excitement in wanting to cover Montreal's third annual Oysterfest for Midnight Poutine. The event took place this past Sunday in Old Montreal and despite Russ' visceral joy at being besieged by bivalves, he managed to compose himself long enough to write up a report of his excursion. Local photographer Emily Gan joined him to snap some pics. In the end they discovered oysters are more than just a tasty little munchie bit; they're a reason to muster and eat like there are no words to describe it.

Oysterfest 1 "Better finish this," a former colleague holding a Diet Coke said to me just before entering Montreal's third annual Oysterfest, held this past Sunday. "It isn't too oysterly, is it?"

I love it. Oysterly. And she was right. Cola has no place washing down such magnificent salty, chewy, miamy morsels. Leave that crap at the gate.

It made me think of what else could be of such adjectorial bequeathage. The beautiful people attending this event? Absolutely. Each of the 1000+ somehow had a bit of an edge to them, yet cool and warm simultaneously. Each gave a saucy wink.
Oysterfest 2"An oyster eater is a very interesting person," Rodney Clark of Toronto's Rodney's Oyster House fame told me. "It's a black and white food; you either love them or you hate them." (A sentiment I guess I can understand, but I don't get. A lot of people don't like oysters; I could eat them by the bucketful.)
Oysterfest 6"But there's an atmosphere of understanding," he continued, "that entices an individual to use all the colours in the crayon box. An oyster eater uses every damn colour."

There were a lot of colourful people there in the tiny little park in Old Montreal that day. Who wouldn't be happy not only eating their weight in lovely mollusks, but also sampling chow from more than 20 local restos, swilling down beer and vodka, enjoying the atmosphere of a seductive summer's evening at the beginning of oyster season?
Oysterfest3
Me, I had to resist the urge to pig the eff out. Truthfully, only the truly cavernous and ravenous could've sampled everything. I ate four or five dishes, a pile of oysters from the 16 different varieties served. Beautiful little burgers, a spicy barnyard bun with a cheeky little kimchee oyster on top, dwarf peaches pickled in truffle oil, a waxy cured mullet fish ovary called bottarga... I almost had to roll myself home. A guy like me could get off on being given the latitude to eat such curious things.
Oysterfest 4 Not that I did, but I came close. You might even question if there was some ulterior motive to holding an event such as this, what with all the beautiful people of Montreal slurping down litres of the original Viagra. Honestly, I felt amazing after devouring a plate of Chopper's Choice oysters from Massachusetts. Meaty, deep, and multilayered in flavour and texture, I felt an almost immediate surge of whoosh. Could've been the jalapeno hot sauce, could've been the resolve after waiting 20 minutes for my portion... but I was a bit more alive after eating those five live beings. Mmm, I might be confusing that mood with horny. These days, my mojo is a bit off. But bless you, little American bivalves. Next time, I'll buy you dinner.

"There's a lot of love here today," Rodney said as we shared a laugh at the thought of how many future kids' parents might put together that this was the night with their conception. "An oyster is like a French kiss that goes all the way."

Such an oysterly truth had never been spoken before.
Oysterfest 5

An extra special thanks to Russ Cooper, who clearly put himself through hell for this, and to Emily Gan, who not only took all these beautiful photos but put up with Russ in his overheated state.

Discussion

11 Comments

Liz / November 2, 2011 at 05:52 pm
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ha! is this when I admit that my facebook profile pic is a closeup of an oyster I'm shucking? wish I wasn't working during this... looks beyond fantastic.
Mehmet / February 4, 2015 at 08:41 am
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EmilyOctober 31, 2012Thank you. The flying the nest thing seems so far off but I bet it comes arnuod quickly. Good luck and enjoy Halloween Emily.
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