I am not a fan of shellfish. I like cooked fish and most sushi just fine, but things like calamari or even lobster ? No thank you. I chalk it up to the overall ickiness, overwhelming ocean-y smell and often rubbery texture. But other people may just chalk it up to being picky. Whatever the reason, I shy away from even smelling shellfish dishes.
But, in my attempt to grow my palate (at least a little), I decided to give oysters a try last year. My first attempt at sucking down a fresh, slippery taste was at Origin Restaurant – I figure if I’m going to try something new, go big or put it off to a later date. The verdict? Oysters are delicious! They’re fresh, instantly transport you to a seaside sunset and are brilliant with a glass of chilled white wine. Naturally, a year later, I’m an oyster expert.
Since that first encounter, I have been more active in seeking out oysters as appetizers at restaurants. It’s amazing how different oysters can taste when they are dressed up (like Oysters Rockafeller, avec bacon!), and a lot of restaurants that serve them have their own unique spin, like at Yours Truly. If you’re in Toronto, I recommend Rodney’s Oyster House or Pure Spirits in the Distillery District for a night out. And Ottawa’s got the ever-touted Whalesbone Oyster House (disclaimer: on my list to visit, but haven’t made it yet).
And if you’re having an event that needs to be catered (or happen to be at one of the Toronto Underground Markets happening next year), check out Neptuno Oysters. A university friend of mine started this raw oyster bar catering company out of a sheer love for fresh, sustainably farmed oysters and simple-yet-delicious dressings.
My next oyster hurdle will be serving them myself. I’ve only ever shucked one…during an oysters-cheese-wine-games night at some friends in Ottawa. But I imagine that spending a warm spring afternoon, with friends in the backyard shucking oysters, sipping wine and listening to Passion Pit or some summertime, indie playlist would be a near-perfect day.