Greetings oyster lovers! I’m just getting a chance to catch up after my whirlwind trip to Montreal last weekend. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the food in that city, from bagels to poutine to fresh seafood, smoked meats and chocolate, however this blog is all about oysters so I’m sticking with it.
My oyster guide was none other than Daniel Notkin, prize-winning Canadian oyster shucker, owner of Old Port Fishing Company, charming man-about-town and all around mensch. When he’s not delivering hand-picked bivalves to his select customers, or shucking at the bar at L’Orignal, you might find him hobnobbing with other enthusiastic Montreal foodies at Garde Manger, Venti, Le Gros Jambon, O + G, Liverpool House, the Burgundy Lion (yes, we whizzed through all these joints), or at the place we dined, Frederic Morin and David McMillan’s famed bistro, Joe Beef.
The oysters-of-choice that night were wild Beausoleils from New Brunswick, and Colville Bays from PEI, grown by Johnny Flynn and his brother Leo near the mouth of the Souris River. (We ordered 4 and 8 respectively, to make a dozen.) The highlight of the evening was when Morin came over to chat. Before we even had a swallow of wine the rapid fire discussion ranged from neurogastronomy to Judaism to why we give animals human traits to why plates should be round to why food is like religion to Paul Bocuse to Gabrielle Hamilton to why salt and pepper shakers should be on the table to....whew! What can I say? Maybe it was the company, maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the expertly shucked oysters that made the evening taste of perfection.
Another night, my friend Libby and I stopped by the Absinthe Bar at Sarah B. (at the InterContinental Montreal) for an absinthe tasting followed by—what else?—oysters! On the menu that night were more New Brunswick Beausoleils, not wild-grown but tasty nonetheless. These smaller-sized oysters leaned toward sweet and mild, with just a slight kiss of salt, and were easy to slurp.
A bientôt Montreal! Hope to get back soon.
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.