A shucking good time was had by all at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Oyster Bash. Celebrating—or as they promoted it, shellebrating—the festival’s 15th year, the event was held at the fashionably-chic Lure Fishbar at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.
Sponsored by Lure Fishbar’s own Josh Capon along with Chef Jeremy Sewall from Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 in Boston and Portsmouth, the two-hour feast included oysters plucked from the flats of Duxbury Bay, the marshlands of Virginia and the glacial waters of Washington State.
I was able to slurp oysters prepared my favorite way—naked, with a drop of lemon on the half shell—and also tried varieties with mignonette toppings, chargrilled and sizzling in garlic butter, and fried. Many of Miami’s best oyster restaurant were represented, as well as others from Charleston and New Orleans.
I arrived early and had a chance to chat with CJ from Island Creek Oyster Bar and Chef Jamie DeRosa from Miami Beach's newest oyster hotspot, Izzy's Fish & Oyster.
CJ got some help shucking from Skip Bennett, left, who founded Island Creek Oysters in 1992, and another pal (with the orange glove) whose name I didn't get! (My excuse? To busy eating oysters!)
CJ told me they brought 30 bags--about 3,000 oysters--for the event, and he guessed he'd personally open a third of them. He was also the only person at the event with a full size poster of himself (actually, there were two of him) available for Instagram selfies. ("It's kinda embarrassing," he sheepishly admitted.)
Outside, Chef Angelo Masarin--owner of the Midtown Oyster Bar and Salumeria 104--donned fashionable sunglasses to personally pop open bivalves from Island Creek that were served with a colorful drop of saffron and bottarga.
"Two restaurants were offering char-grilled oysters. The oysters on the left are from Chef Ryan Haigler of New Orlean's Grand Isle Restaurant. Made with Cajun Tasso, smoked oysters, butter and New Orleans-style breadcrumbs. (Whatever "NoLa-style breadcrumbs" means--it is obviously a synonym for yummy.) On another grill, right, Chef Ben McClean from Leon's Oyster Shop in Charleston served bubbling hot oysters with lemon, parsley, butter and Parmesan.
Represnting Izzy's Fish & Oyster Bar, Chef Jamie DeRosa, left, and Chef William Crandall served Island Creek Oysters with a sexy Latin twist of chorizo and salsa verde.
Miami's Mignonette, another local seafood and oyster bar, mixed it up a bit with Irish Points from PEI, and west coast Hama Hamas.
Last, but certainly not least, the crew at Lure served freshly-shucked oysters with an array of tasty toppings.
In another room, the folks at Oyster Creek were playing a spin-the-wheel game for prizes. I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to win this knife! It feels so light in the hand--apparently it's hollow--and I'd love to give it a try. Alas, I didn't win. The good news? It's only 364 days to the next Oyster Bash. Better luck to me next time?
I grew up spending part of every summer in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, which included eating many oysters. After stumbling into an oyster shucking competition in Miami Beach in 2006, I’ve become a fan of the sport and have written about local, national, and international competitions for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, American Way Magazine, and the Huffington Post. I've also written oyster-centric stories for Rustik and Modern Farmer. I’ve never met an oyster I didn’t want to eat.