Schell: Get thee to Oliver and Osoyoos for Oyster Fest
It’s time to get shucking! After last year’s huge success, the second annual Oliver/Osoyoos Oyster Festival will be held from April 17-21 with a rip roaring, five-day schedule.
Oyster farmers from the coast are heading inland again, bringing with them their beautiful bivalves to enjoy straight from the sea.
Our local seafood specialists, Jon and Anne Marie Crofts, both expert shuckers from Kelowna’s Codfather’s Seafood Market, are again onboard supplying a variety of oysters from Canada’s coastal regions.
Oystermania will be happening all over Oliver and Osoyoos with restaurants and resorts featuring oyster dishes, different events and special dinners.
Event organizers say “Try ‘em raw, scalded and grilled, on bread, on the half shell, fried, in savoury sauces, in salads, on pizza and even desserts.”
Here is a taste of what’s on the agenda, but go to the official website www.oooysterfestival.com for the complete event listings. BC Food & Wine Trails Magazine is a proud sponsor of this event and I will be there as well with my cookbook, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker—An Okanagan Cookbook.
The festivities began yesterday, April 17, with an oyster-themed long table dinner at Miradoro and continue on today, April 18, with a Bubble, Oyster and Northern Divine Caviar Tasting followed by a pizza dinner at Terrafina Restaurant.
On Friday, April 19, wine will take a backseat for a beer and oyster-pairing event.
Saturday, April 20, the Sage Pub hosts the second Amateur Shuck ‘n’ Suck competition sponsored by Osoyoos’ Helen’s Seafood Cove market.
The festival is also thrilled to be hosting Canada’s First Oyster Wine Competition (sponsored by Codfather’s Seafood Market and Walnut Beach Resort) where judges will pair each wine submission with Marina’s Top Drawer Oysters from Outlandish Shellfish grown near Cortes Island. These frilly bivalves are sweet with a hint of cucumber.
Judges are: Rhys Pender, master of wine and owner of www.wineplus.ca; Mark Filatow, sommelier and chef www.waterfrontrestaurant.ca; Canadian Culinary Championships British Columbia winner and finale competitor Audrey Surrao, WSET certified and co-owner www.raudz.com; Cassandra Anderton, food and wine writer and publisher of www.goodlifevancouver.com; and Brad Cooper, Okanagan winemaker and owner of Black Cloud Winery.
The signature food and wine event, Art of the Oyster, takes place on the afternoon of April 20 at the oyster festival’s official hotel and sponsor, Walnut Beach Resort. I absolutely loved this event last year—the food, the setting, the creativity of the chefs—all was amazing.
Along with wine tastings from participating Oliver/Osoyoos wineries, you’ll see the oyster-themed culinary creations of the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Winery, Terrafina at Hester Creek Winery, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery, Walnut Beach Resort, Mica at Spirit Ridge, Watermark Resort, Nk’Mip Cellars Restaurant and chef Chris Van Hooydonk and his new company, Artisan Culinary Concepts.
Freshly shucked oysters will be provided from Codfather’s, Effingham, Outlandish, Brent Petkau, The Oysterman and Penticton’s Buy the Sea Market.
For the daring diner, Covert Farms in Oliver will be offering up prairie oysters to taste (yep, them’s sheep’s testicles.) from 3 to 5 p.m. for only $35 per ticket inclusive. 1-877-936-5400.
Walnut Beach Resort, also a sponsor of the festival, will be offering great room rates starting at $79 so you can get ‘EFF’d’ (Effingham Oyster’s slogan—he will have T-shirts for sale) and not have to drive home. www.walnutbeachosoyoos.com
Jennifer Schell is editor of B.C. Wine Trails Magazine.