Oysterfest 2012 MontrealPosted By Jennifer Ho Sep 22 2012 · 2 comments · Events, Old Montreal
This year’s Oysterfest was another smashing success. The weather fully cooperated: it turned out to be an overall perfect September afternoon – smiles all around. With all the delicious foods being made and served on the premises, I don’t know what in the world anyone could have been upset about. Upbeat music blasted through the speakers and people milled happily about within the thick mish mash of aromatic scents in the air. Regardless of where you looked, people lined up left, right and center for a taste. And you can’t blame them either.
Doing the usual quick walk-around, we surveyed the restaurants present and the foods they were serving to get an overall idea of how we wanted to plan our forthcoming feast. We decided to start off with the oysters since last year, the line up ended up being crazy by the middle of the event. Also, because it’s a nice appetizer to get you started. What’s Oysterfest without starting it off wiht oysters?! Getting five each for two tickets (we purchased the “VIP” pass that came with entry fee and 10 tickets), we topped these babies off with Frank’s red hot, lemon juice and a little bit of horseradish. Good start, good start.
Moving towards L’Orignal, we helped ourselves to some lemonade spiked with your choice of rum or bourbon. We got one of each.
Drink in hand, things were just beginning. Osteria Venti was serving lamb skewers and marinated vegetables including mushrooms, onions and artichoke hearts. I think the batch of lamb that we had had been on the grill for a touch too long as they were slightly tough – I had trouble finishing them. Otherwise, the veggies were very nicely done. Tangy, just a little sour and vinegary, they all took in the marinade well but still kept their own distinct flavor profiles and consistencies. The mushrooms especially. Yum.
Pressing onwards, we headed towards Park’s booth. Serving a pork belly, kimchi and pulled pork shoulder bo ssam slider, this one was one of my favorites all day. My mouth is watering as I write this, no joke. Impossibly tender pieces of meat mixed with spicy Korean veggies and seasoning all stuffed into one large, warm bun. Steamy pieces fell out as I ate it but don’t worry, I caught them all and ate them after I demolished the whole thing. I’m telling you, absolute heaven.
Baxo was serving a mysterious dish called “fun in a bun”. Obviously we were game. Once pressed for more details as they worked away behind the table, we were told it was their special shrimp roll. Oh yes, it was good.
Looking for a refill, we paid Sailor Jerry’s a visit. They had this cool aluminum silver trailer that had windows, a roll out contraption to create shade and some badass bartenders keeping the drinks coming. One with a particularly amazing mustache. How could I not say something about that super thick, bold horseshoe? We had one of two drinks they were serving: I had the sweeter one made of citrus, rum, topped off with a light, white beer. They were very generous with the amount of alcohol poured into my cup, which made this drink that much better.
Ready to pick up our beast of a meal again, we sauntered over to Inferno for some tripe soup. My bowl had a good four or five pieces in it – again, very generous here. Adding some green chilis and a healthy amount of parmesan, this dish for me was pretty golden. I’m a big tripe fan, so this will do it for me. Also serving freshly grilled anchovies, they looked too good to resist. So we had a piece as well. I liked it for the flavors but found it a little bit too difficult to eat, given the time and place. Lots of bones, little seating area, limited access to napkins/water… It just got a little messy to eat. That aside, Inferno did a good job overall here.
Braised oxtail came next. I know, the amount of food I’m going on about is never ending, right? This one was tender, well cooked so that the meat slid off the bone relatively easily.
Smoked eel burger with champagne marinated coleslaw underneath. Can we talk about glamorous for a second? That’s basically this dish, summed up in a word. So fancy, Suite 701. The idea and the concept behind the dish was great – definitely got me excited when I heard the chef explain what he was serving.
Cavatelli by Taverne: the pasta was mostly cold (I know how hard it must be to control temperature among other factors when serving in a makeshift outdoor kitchen) and not super distinct in any way. This dish was somewhat forgettable.
Going for one final push, we shared the pizza romana topped with dates, prosciutto and big, thick chunks of cheese. First time getting dates on a pizza and being a big fan of the fruit, this one was definitely my speed. This is the one that really did us in. What a meal.
Spending the last of our tickets on sweets, the paletas by La Catrina were ah-mazing. I had never heard of this place before but La Catrina, you’ve sure got my attention now. The cactus pear-pineapple and the horchata-peach pops?! With real fruit pieces inside?! The ones that we didn’t get: key lime, tamarind-guava, golden kiwi-rhubarb-ginger? Oh my god. The mix of flavors are so unexpected and so wild and so, so, so perfect.
The homemade donuts drizzled in chocolate syrup were equally delicious. Circular puffs rolled in sugar, these babies were snapped up and gorged upon in no time.
All this to say… Cannot wait for next year. What makes this event even better (if that’s even possible) is that all the proceeds go to the Open Pier Foundation, an organization dedicated to ocean preservation and sustainability. Oysterfest: live long and prosper.