BC Oyster Tasting Event
December 17, 2018
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I was so blessed to be invited to an awesome BC Oyster Tasting Event by BC Seafood Festival. Their festival started as one-day event, and now it has grown to be the largest seafood festival in Western Canada. This was their “oyster tasting” event in NYC, before the big 13th annual festival in June 2019 in Comox Valley, British Columbia, Canada (you can learn more about it here: https://bcseafoodfestival.com/). I gotta say, the festival looks pretty amazing!!!!
Back to what went on here in NYC… This was 2-day oyster event, compared to the week-long BC Seafood Festival, and focused on their oysters only. My hubby and I love oysters, so we were very happy to have this opportunity to try out their Canadian oysters! The first BC Oysters Tasting Event was held at Eats on Lex. I’ve had this spot bookmarked for a few years, but never actually made it here, so I was happy to check out the place.
The inside was much smaller than I expected, cozy and kind of old-school. I liked all the monochromatic photographs on the walls. Nothing too fancy, just the things that we need at a restaurant. The staffs were nice and welcoming. We arrived a bit early, so the hostess told us that we can sit at the bar and wait.
They had a fully stocked bar, and a happy hour for drinks and oysters here. We told the bartender that we were waiting for the event to start, and he had no problem with that. He was really nice and considerate to say the least! Thank you!
And once the event section was set up, we saw mountains of beautiful oysters… It was dreams come true for any and all oyster lovers! They brought fresh oysters from Canada, grown in pristine, nutrient rich waters of British Columbia. The producers includes Mac Oysters, Sawmill Bay Shellfish, and Pacific Rim Shellfish.
And who is shucking these jewels of the sea? None other than international oyster shucking champion and Guinness Book World Record holder, Shucker Paddy! The area they had the oysters and shucking station set up was pretty dark, but that was no issue to him. He confidently said “I can shuck in the dark” which made me giggle… LOL.
Mr. Patrick McMurray, a.k.a. Shucker Paddy, is a professional Oyster Shucker, but so much more than that. He is also an Oyster Sommelier, publican and owner of Toronto Restaurant The Ceili Cottage. Since he shucks about 4,000 oysters a week (I know!!!) on the bar at the restaurant and through catering, shucking oysters came natural to him. No wonder he can shuck in the dark!
He had his own shucking tool, and looked really sharp! I was thinking how I would just slice open my hands with the knife, “trying” to crack open the oyster shell. But then, I noticed he was prepared for any mishaps, he had metal gloves on! How cool is that! You never know what can happen when you are shucking in a small, dark, crowded space…
And he was pretty fast at shucking, even while he was entertaining all the participants at this event. He was really nice, funny, knowledgeable and friendly. He told us a few things about these Canadian oysters and other interesting facts while shucking.
And as he shucked more beautiful oysters, we were getting ready to taste some! Just look at these oysters… The orders started to fly in, and who can blame them (us included)?
To keep up with the demand, someone else has joined the shucking line. Another wonderful thing about this event was that we also got to meet with the British Columbia oyster producers! On this night, we met Gordy and Steve, the men behind the oysters we were having this evening, since they are the ones who grow these beautiful oysters.
And at last, here is our (first) dozen of oysters! So pretty, I could just stare at them in adoration… but then, it won’t be as fresh if I stare at them too long. But can you see how plump, big and glistening they are? Just pure joy loaded on this silver plate.
I don’t know about you, but I think pairing these gorgeous babies with chilled white wine just bring them to the next level of awesomeness. Thank goodness Eats on Lex had just that!
So, we got a little toppings of lemon juice, cocktail sauce and a shallow mignonette, I was ready to taste my oysters! Yes I know, the pro oyster eaters would say to stay away from condiments other than a few drops of lemon…but, I am so used to having my oysters with all the condiments, I couldn’t help myself. I did indeed have a few oysters with just the lemon drops to really appreciate the natural, delicious flavor of the oysters.
And here is our second dozen of shiny treasure. We were so excited to get unlimited numbers of oysters, but we didn’t forget to savor each and every one of them.
And just as described, these oysters from Western Canada are “milder and flavor with a delicate, buttery texture.” Since they are grown in cool water, with filtered sea water. So you get the bit of salty flavor in the natural liquor (water in the shell), that compliments the oyster without it being fishy at all.
And the Canadian oyster goodness didn’t end there. They had a big surprise for us, with two Canadian liquors that they brought with them. Double Barreled Single Malt Whiskey from Shelter Point Distillery, and Unruly Gin from Wayward Distillation House.
What these got to do with oysters? Drink them with the oysters? Well, close, but not exactly. What they showed us was quite cool, this is their version of “oyster shot.” First, you eat the oyster off the shell, then they poured the Whiskey into the shell. It gets mixed with remaining oyster juice (“liquor”) and becomes its own unique concoction. It was really good! The whiskey made the salty “liquor” mild and soft, turned the ocean flavor into something new and smooth.
Then we tried it with the Gin. We got another oyster, slurped it, and they poured the Gin in the shell. This one was even better. The Unruly Gin is made with British Columbia honey, so it had a touch of sweetness to it. To me, this one was better and easier to go down. I really liked the complex flavor of the salty “liquor” and the sweet gin concoction. It was great!
Needless to say, we had an amazing time at this event! I got some photos with the Shuck Paddy, and beautiful Suzanne who invited me to this wonderful 2-day oyster fest! Thank you Suzanne!
Now, after “recovering” from the dreamy oyster event, it was time to go back for more oysters!!! The day two of the BC Oyster Tasting Event by BC Seafood Festival was held at Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. The most iconic spot for oysters in NYC.
I have been to Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant a few times, and I always enjoyed the food and the experience, so I was very excited that the event was going to be held here! I even attended a super fun event several years ago called Oyster Frenzy here, but I don’t think they do that anymore?
As we entered from the main entrance and looked around, I didn’t see the event happening… Then we discovered tat the event was held in the back room, Saloon part of the restaurant. As soon as we stepped into the Saloon, Shuck Paddy greeted us with enthusiastic gesture. LOL.
They again had beautiful Canadian oysters, the same kinds as the night before. It was nice that the saloon was set up for the events, but of course, you could also order anything else on the menu as well.
The Saloon was much bigger than it looked from the entrance, nice large room. I loved all the decors, reminiscence of the days from hundreds of years ago. I wondered how many of these things on the walls are actual antiques??? They had a good amount of seating, but I felt that they didn’t have enough servers… They are very fast, but I am not sure about “efficiency” though (our server didn’t let us order the Canadian oysters at first, and also, he forgot our order later on…).
At this event, I was able to get some more quality time with Shuck Paddy, and also, I got meet with the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Executive Chef, Sandy Ingber. He was super nice and welcoming, what a great opportunity this event has given me! Thank you!
We got some wine and prosecco to go with our delicious fresh oysters. Oh how I love our lives… Again, big thanks to BC Seafood Festival!
So, we started off with smaller plates this time, since we had loads of oysters the night before. They looked as beautiful as I remembered… And that plate went real fast. We quickly got a few more smaller plates. The one with lemon made me think of the smiling cat from Alice in Wonderland… And the wonder they are, amazingly fresh, delicious, plump and such a delight!
We could not stop, and that was a good sign, right? Whenever we could get an attention of our server (which was not easy), we put in additional orders for small pates.
I garnished my oysters and enjoyed the treasures of the sea. My goodness, they are sooo good! Tasty and addictive, and filling and oh-so satisfying. Having these oysters at the iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar makes them extra special.
And then, they announced that they will be providing their special Canadian oyster shooter to whoever was interested. We of course went up to the front and had their version of oyster shooter again. It was soooo good! Gordy poured a small amount of Whiskey over the oyster first for me, and I had my oyster with the Whisky. Then, They poured the Gin in the empty shell to enjoy the flavor the honey Gin and sea water concoction.
After that, we went back to our table and had more oysters. There was no stopping us! Well, other than our almost-full stomach… We were getting pretty full, but in a good way. We enjoyed every single one of them, and eating oyster is actually good for you! They are low in calories, low in fat and a good source of protein, so they make you feel full without the added calorie. I say it is a great food item when you are trying to lose weight!
Oysters come with so many benefits, other than it being delicious. They have more zinc than any other food, which support immune system and promotes healing. They are also high in omega–3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium to help reduce risk of heart attack, stroke and lower blood pressure. And it doesn’t stop there. Oysters have vitamins A, E, and C, iron, calcium, selenium, and vitamin B12. Who knew you can get so much nutrients from this precious tasty jewel?
When we thought we were about done with our oyster fest, they came over and asked if we wanted a few more. We of course said yes! So they brought a plate full of oysters for us. Seven oysters for good luck. Even though we were quite full after that, we still felt really good since they were nice and light. And oysters can help transport oxygen throughout your body, improving your energy! Last but not least, it is said that oysters can help lower cholesterol, so eating oysters has sooooo many health benefits!
We had such amazing time at both events at Eats on Lex and Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. BC Seafood Festival had done wonderful job promoting their festival and especially their oysters! Thank you everyone from BC Seafood Festival, Eats on Lex, and Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant! If you want to try their delicious oysters (and more), you can get them at their 13th annual festival in June 2019 in Vancouver Island, Canada. Take a little trip to their beautiful island and enjoy all the fresh and delicious seafood!
BC Oyster Tasting Event 2018:
Eats on Lex – 1055 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant – 89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017