Oyster Fest!

In Food and Drink on July 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Soon, you will be mine, slimey ones.

I’m just a few hours away from one of my favorite summer activities here in Toronto: Rodney’s Southern Ontario Oyster Festival. I am a latecomer to oysters, like many people: it’s just one of those foods, like olives or Brussels sprouts, that folks come around to later in life. And this event, held on King Street in downtown Toronto, is one of the best opportunities to get and eat oysters in the city.

My “oyster revelation” came in 2009 at another Rodney’s location, albeit in Vancouver. (This may explain some of my loyalty to the brand.) Alice and I had a spectacular meal of oysters (supplemented with a few other, lonely appetizers that dimmed in comparison), and the cost certainly matched the quality, but it was worth every penny. Rodney’s makes it very easy to climb on board the slippery, slimey oyster train: they offer a variety of relishes and salsa-like sauces to supplement the natural excellence of the wee beastie, as well as the usual variety of lemons and hot-and-sweet sauces.

Now I know that Rodney’s is hardly the “best” oyster joint in the world — its prices are relatively high, and most of its staff don’t know much about the shellfish to be honest — but for an amateur oyster lover like me, it’s an approachable, accessible location, of which there just aren’t many in Toronto. Also, the quality and the presentation of the oysters is quite good. It’s hard to get a bad plate of them at this restaurant.

Last year’s Oyster Festival also featured an Oyster Shucking Championship, which was a lot of fun to watch. I can’t imagine how gnarled and calloused the hands of those shuckers must be. Also: how does one become a shucker? It’s clearly a niche professional area. I doubt its skill-set is reproducible outside of certain coastal areas and luxury restaurants. Maybe lockpicking? Surgery? If the latter, I hope they wash up clean and good before going from the shucking board to the OR.

We’re really looking forward to our second Festival.


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