You may not realize it, but oyster culture is very much alive in Calgary, Alberta. We may be surrounded by mountains, but we know how to throw a damn fine oyster shucking competition. It was a beautiful summer evening when I attended the 2nd annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival. The event was hosted by Raw Bar (inside Calgary’s Hotel Arts) at their pool-side, and the energy was buzzing as 21 competitors from Alberta and BC eagerly waited for oyster shucking to begin.
Now, I think I am part of the 95% of individuals who see something (i.e. oyster shucking) on tv (i Top Chef) and say to themselves ‘That looks easy, I could do that!’ After observing first-hand, it does not come off as so. Each contestant is timed while trying to shuck 12 PEI oysters as quickly as possible. Once completed, the oyster platter is then passed onto a judging panel to review. Various penalties during judging can occur, resulting in addition time being tacked for occurrences such as ‘mangling the oyster meat’ or ’breaking the half-shell.’
Once the shucking was underway, I had a chance to sample some offerings from Raw Bar, who had created a seafood feature menu for the event. First up: Deep Fried Fanny Bay Oysters. They were nice and meaty with a crisp coating, and I may of wanted to drink the soy, ginger lime dip that accompanied them, but this was a fancy affair after all, so I opted not to.
Second on the docket: Smoked Atlantic Salmon Flatbread: A crunchy thin flatbread topped with citrus creme fraiche, dill, capers, red onions, and, of course, salmon. Literally a ‘chill’ pizza. Yum!
Finally, I tried their Wild Striped Sea Bass Two Ways. Half served as sashimi and half served pan seared. The sashimi was served with pickled carrots and asparagus, and the latter with some bitter greens and grapefruit. I loved the combination of grapefruit and sea bass! It was my favorite.
To find our who won the competition and to check out some more great pictures head over to Food Network Canada’s site here!
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