BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival
Mona Day – Topix
June 27, 2017
British Columbia is a major producer of high-quality seafood, harvesting over 100 seafood species.
BC seafood represents over half of Canada’s aquaculture production, and it is so important to its economy it has proclaimed June as BC Seafood Month. Highlighting the month is the BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival, the largest of its kind in Western Canada, which takes place in Comox Valley known for producing the most shellfish in British Columbia.
The ten-day event offers over 45 culinary events – wine paired dinners, celebrity chef demonstrations, chef competitions, a trade expo, and shellfish and seafood producer tours and open houses, all celebrating the bounty of the sea.
The festival’s signature event, Comox by the Sea Celebration, is the largest event of the festival, bringing in over 2500 people. Supported by producers, suppliers and educational institutions, it features seafood tasting booths with local beer, wine and spirits, celebrity chef competitions and demos, interactive educational displays, and live music. Competitions include the Ocean Wise Chowder Challenge whose winner gets a trip to compete in Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chow Down. Also popular is the Fanny Bay Oysters Shucking Championship where the best shucker wins a trip to the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Festival’s Raspberry Point International Oyster Shucking Championship.
Another signature event of BC Festival is Fresh Fest held at the Coastal Black Winery which specializes in berry wines. The event featured tasting stations with seafood and wine pairings by the country’s top chefs. Dishes included tuna tartare, oysters on the half shell, Oysters Rockefeller – you’ve never seen them bigger, plumper, or meatier; fresh off the water grilled salmon served with an Indian sauce and spices; and a giant pan of seafood paella.
The next day’s Chef’s Shellfish Showdown was a sit down wine paired sunset gala with live entertainment at the beautiful 40 Knots Estate Winery. Ten courses prepared by celebrity chefs were up for your vote which you cast with a shell in the appropriate jar. That posed quite a dilemma: with this many top choices, how do you pick a favorite? But at the end of the evening, jars with the most shells included oysters with chard and pork jowl; char-grilled Pacific octopus with oyster salsa verde, fennel and pickled ramps; Cowichan Pasta crab and shrimp ravioli with wild morels and spring onions in plenty of brown butter; and halibut with ricotta, spinach, local wild mushrooms and vegetable fricassee.
The Salmon Capital Seafood Taste at Spirit Square, Campbell River was an afternoon al fresco soiree that featured food stations all showcasing salmon. Creative dishes included Gravlax as well as a salmon macaroon sandwich.
The Best in Town Caesar Competition at the White Whale Restaurant offered Buck-a-shuck oysters and drink specials while top mixologists competed for the Best Caesar in Town, a Caesar being the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary with the addition of clam juice. Judging was based on appearance, taste, garnish and of course, shellfish and seafood relevance.
Toscano’s Mediterranean Grill, 40 Knots Estate Winery and Cascadia Liquor Store partnered to host a seafood and wine pairing event that served smoked albacore tuna paired with local wines.
A Gin & Oysters Happy Hour at Wayward Distillation House featured Kusshi Oysters, familiar as cocktail oysters, from Stellar Bay Shellfish served with Unruly Gin made from BC honey.
Use the time between festival events to explore the beautiful Comox Valley. With mountains facing the sea, it has the charm of a small town along with urban sophistication.