To have a festival dedicated to the delicious bi-valve creature called the oyster here in the Okanagan is priceless. Us valley folks know the coast and its delights like suburbanites know their respective city centre, quite well, with perhaps more reverence than the everyday dweller. Here in wine and agriculture country what us rural folks do know adeptly is wine… the ideal counterpart to a delectable oyster. So we feel the oyster has a welcome place in the landscape of fine sparkling and traditional wines of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and other oyster loving varietals.
You may or may not be an oyster aficionado. The first thing to know is that oysters are seasonal. Canadians source oysters from the northern hemisphere where icy waters are home to our shelled friends. Once the water warms though, as it does around this time of early spring, we have to let go of the local oyster urge… or do we? I have recently learned I don't need to break up with my seasonal friends to while away the summer without them. I can enjoy a couple of very succulent and highly nuanced varieties from a new importer of oysters from the wintery southern hemisphere (yes, the southern hemisphere is most chilled in our most warm days). New Zealand oysters are making their way to Canada via 46 South Fish Co. Ltd. 46 South comes to us through the hands of Mark Urwin, a fifth generation fisherman from the Bluff Oyster region of New Zealand. His family continues to runUrwin and Co. with boats of all kinds, but particularly fishing wild oysters and ocean life. Naturally Mark refound his ocean working origins. first through Rodney of Rodney's Oyster House in Vancouver. They became fast friends, and Mark was welcomed on a trip to Canada's East coast for his first experience of farm raised oysters. With opened eyes Mark thought back to varieties of oyster in New Zealand and decided to work on the connexion to bring them in first for Rodney's Oyster Bar then to other restaurants in Toronto and on the west coast where he was living.
The oyster varieties are special. The flat oyster is the most unique, with a zincy and pronounced pungent flavour.