Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wellfleet OysterFest

a real Wellfleet Oyster....oh yeah baby

4:30 AM on a Saturday, and there's really no good reason at all for me to be one : oysters.

We've been trying to go to the Wellfleet OysterFest ever since we heard about it, but somehow had never quite gotten it together...user calendar error, cousins getting married....insidious plots to keep us away. The word "OYSTERS" has been scrawled on October 15th in the 2011 calendar hanging in my kitchen since, I think, when the calendar was hung in January...and finally, finally, we've made it to October. And oysters !

shucking off

From the website : "The annual Wellfleet OysterFest is a two-day celebration of the town’s famous oysters and its deep-rooted shellfishing traditions. Wellfleet’s town center comes alive for this street party that brings together locals and visitors alike for a weekend full of food, art, music, fun and games.". And a street party it was...exactly as billed : a super fun event involving lots of lovely, lovely oysters.

Wellfleet is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Boston, and we didn't plan to stay over - hence the early start time. We were hoping to make a 9 AM lecture, but left a little late...and the parking is at the town docks, which is a little way from the town center - so by the time we parked and walked up to the town we didn't quite make the early lecture. Still, it was a lovely walk :

This actually turned out to be a wise use of our time, as we were able to check out all the booths without the insane crowds. And by "insane", I mean so many people so close to me that I felt like I needed a cigarette and a shower afterwards - and I don't even even smoke. But that was later, and we were the early birds who got the worms - or in our case, the Bloody Marys and Lobster Bruschetta at Winslow's Tavern :

even the heavens approve...

The sign said "World Famous Bloody Marys", and after trying one I can see why...deliciously thick and spicy, with a touch of lemon...nice kick...simply perfect. And the bruschetta was heavenly....lobster with just enough mayo to hold it together over deliciously grilled bread.

After such a satisfying breakfast, we were ready to check out more booths - and to start on some platters of seriously good oysters. After all, we needed to fortify ourselves for a cooking demonstration...because who could possibly resist meeting someone who wrote a book called "For Cod And Country" ?  Behold, Barton Seaver :

terrible picture of a really good looking guy
The demo - really, more of an informative talk - was absolutely fascinating, and well worth the trip on its own. Barton Seaver is a chef and restaurant owner who now works with National Geographic and is focused on promoting sustainability, particularly in regards to seafood. Before my skeptical readers start rolling their eyes, let me tell you : this guy makes a lot of sense, and his ideas are definitely worth looking at. His focus is on the fishermen and women as much as the fish itself, and his way of looking at everything just makes sense - don't stop eating a particular sort of fish, but figure out a responsible way to do it that encourages the preservation of the species. (Not to mention the guy sounds like he could write for this blog...any more talk of glistening, quivering, pulsating oysters and their salty, briny, luscious sweetness sliding across the tongue and we'd have to be talking cigarettes and showers again). And the cooking...he prepared some oyster shooters that we could only sniff and not taste (stupid Massachusetts blue laws) but which smelled amazing, and he also prepared samples of what he called a "Bordeaux Vineyard Lunch" that consisted of cold raw oysters with slices of hot sausage, topped with a radish-cilantro relish that was out of this world. And, of course, we bought the book :)

After the demo and one more round of oysters, we were ready to hit the road. Well, actually, we could have stayed all day...but I'm really not exaggerating the size of that crowd. I'm not shy or squeamish by any means, but being in a crowd like that really just doesn't interest me at all. You can't see or get to anything - and who wants that...heck, I can get that on the T ! So, sadly, we said goodbye to OysterFest for this year.

But that doesn't mean our day of Cape fun was quite done...

Cape Cod Highland Light, Truro

frolicking seals !

We decided to drive up to Provincetown, as my chief co-contributor had never been. First, though, a quick stop at the Cape Cod Highland Light. Beautiful spot, even with the punishing wind...and seals ! Happy seals swimming about at the foot of the cliffs, what a wonderful sight. A quick drive through P-town (we didn't stop, so no pictures there - though we did get sand and salt blasted, which was quite a trip). Definitely going to plan another trip there !

Driving back through Wellfleet, we were actually hungry again (platters of oysters are amazing, but not terribly filling) - but craving something like burgers and beer, of all things. We tried stopping at a place called Van Rensselaer's, but they weren't open for the evening quite they directed us to their sister restaurant two doors down, Catch of the Day. At first glance, we weren't overly impressed...the place looked like an overgrown pizza parlor, the restrooms were outside and through the back door, and we weren't even sure there was beer. But then we sat down and perused the beer list (Hallelujah !), and saw huge bowls of Wellfleet Fisherman's Stew go by...and we were sold :

hooray, beer !!

Crab cakes with cilantro-lime aioli...YES

Wellfleet Fisherman's Stew

First off, Whales Tale Pale Ale is absolutely delicious, and you should drink some at the first opportunity :) 

The crab cakes were fairly standard, though the fact that they were deep-fried was a nice touch - crab cake inside a crispy shell, great idea. The aioli, though, was fantastic - the real winner of the dish. Bright, light, and full of flavor...oh yeah, we are going to deconstruct that one for home brewing.

And then, the stew. Mussels, littlenecks, squid, shrimp, red potatoes, roasted corn, tomatoes and chorizo in a spicy saffron seafood broth. Sounds like a somewhat standard stew of the bouillabaisse variety...but words cannot express how amazing this stew actually was. The clams were so huge and meaty that you actually had to cut them to eat them politely. The squid was perfectly cooked (not that easy to find), and the roasted corn was a revelation - even my non-corn-loving co-conspirator absolutely loved it. 

Man, that was a long ride back to Boston...but what a perfect day.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, Karen! This is wonderful. I love the photographs and your writing is so awesome. What a wonderful day you two had, and yes, the Heavens totally approve! xox