Today I was invited to the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival’s media launch. This was a peek of things to come during the actual festival that runs from June 9-18, 2017 in Comox Valley, Vancouver Island.
This will be the 11th year of the festival. It was established to “drive national, international, and regional long-term awareness to the importance and diversity of BC coastal communities and their seafood industries”. And given how great tonight went, I am hoping that I will be able to attend this event as media as well. Then and there, maybe I will be able to experience the over 30 different events and tours including the following.
- BC seafood on your plate campaign – June 9-18
- Chef’s shellfish showdown – June 9
- Fresh fest – June 9
- BC Seafood Expo – June 12 & 13
- Nourished in Nature – BC shellfish Growers Association shellfish feast – June 16
- Comox by the sea celebration – June 18
But first to enjoy the festivities at hand. This was a two part event. The first portion of the evening had us at “Fanny Bay Oyster Bar”, where we would nibble and sip, whilst mingling with staff and the owners to learn more about them as a producer and as a company. Then the night concluded at the “Vancouver Fish Company”, within Granville island for the actual media launch event. Here we got to taste and try the seafood and shellfish forward creations of nine local chefs and the restaurants they represented.
As always, when it comes to a media event: my experience no doubt will be a little askew. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
To skip the reading and watch the recap instead, watch the video below.
At “Fanny Bay” I had a couple of their oyster stouts. A beer that looked like Guinness, but tasted like a lager. “Postmark brewery” collaborated with “Fanny Bay”, and using their oyster shells and brine they brewed up this unique stout.
I was also luckily enough to be treated to a smattering of their very fresh oysters. These were shucked and presented to me by the general manger himself, Issac. He did this with a explanation of each oyster and his personal seal of approval for each.
There were also canapés for everyone to help themselves to. I can’t be sure of what each was, but using my best guess: this was an oyster shot with a thousand island dressing-like sauce, topped with cucumber slivers.
Crab filled pastry puffs with dill.
And a cooked oyster over a crostini, with cream cheese and pickled vegetable.
The whole group of us were given a step by step tutorial on how to shuck oysters by Malindi Taylor, the marketing and sales coordinator for “Taylor Shellfish Canada”, who owns “Fanny Bay Oysters”.
She followed it up by explaining the flavour of each oyster available as well as inviting us to taste the fruits of her shucking labour.
From here the first portion of the event wrapped up and we were shuttled to the next location: “Lobster Man”. This was a shop specializing in live seafood. They had tanks and tanks of mollusks and crustaceans. Lobsters, crabs, clams, mussels, and oysters. We were given the option for a self directed tour here, before checking in and pinning on our media badges.
It was a quick walk to the “Vancouver Fish Company” from here. There were nine stalls manned by nine chefs and their crew. They offered tastes of their seafood creations, representing the flavours of the restaurants that they worked at. The following is in the order of my visiting them.
At the threshold we were handed a glass of white wine from “40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery”. And to ease the burden of having to hold it and the dishes to come, while trying to toggle between phone and camera, we were given a wonderful clip. It was attached to our plate and allowed the wine glass to balance off of it. I kept the useful tool.
We started with the “Vancouver Fish Company’s” offering, brought to us by “Chef John McManus”: “Baked sablefish taco”. The sablefish was marinaded in white miso and Granville island sake. It was served with a Fuji apple and jicama slaw, all together in a crispy taco shell. It was a delicious start. The gentle fish paired well with sweet apple, and the crispy shell provided a good crunch.
From “Salish Sea Food” there was a selection of “smoked salmon nuggets”. They were candied and slightly sweet.
At the “Locals restaurant” table, Chef Donald St. Pierre prepared a “Chinook salmon tartar”, served in a crispy prosciutto ham cup with a tree island goodness yogurt sauce, and a homemade fennel cracker. It was tangy from the yogurt, with a balance of salmon and crispy salty ham.
Chef Nathan Fong from “Fong on food” drew extra attention with his two live geoducks over ice, on display. Many folks wanted a picture with it and him. He prepared “geoduck sashimi” with a miso mustard and a geoduck salsa to be scooped up with chips. It was tasty. I have never had geoduck before, Iet alone raw.
Chef Chris Whittaker from “Forage” brought us oysters pickled with bull kelp, nettle aioli, and crispy potato. It was simple yet complex in appearance and layered flavours. Delicate and beautiful, it really allowed the flavour of the oyster to shine through.
From “Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar”, Chef Alex Chen prepared local clams in a creole style broth with tarragon, garlic, and a hush puppy fry. It was spicy and warming, and the potato offered some nice starch.
I had some of the best fish thanks to Chef Nigel McMeans of “Blackfin Pub”. This was mirin and tamari marinated sablefish, served with a fiery gingered yam purée, and a white balsamic and hibiscus reduction. I would have loved to have the entree version of this with a side of roasted vegetables.
Chef Angus An of “Maenam” offered mussels steamed in Thai aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, and Thai basil. It was served with their Nahm Jim sauce. Wonderfully cooked mussels, fragrant with strong citrus notes.
And Chef Chris Andraza was here representing “Fanny Bay Oysters Bar”. They brought out a portable fryer and were battering, frying, and tossing their oysters before our eyes. Panko breaded Fanny Bay oysters with a house made tartar sauce. Crispy on the outside and chewy at the centre, the perfect combination with a creamy, zesty tartar sauce.
Chef Taryn Wa, From “Savoury Chef Foods” offered “steelhead gravlax”. Cured steelhead filet, with everything bagel spice, and creme fraiche. It was like eating a smoked salmon over a bagel, just without the starchy chew of an actual bagel, but a crispy rice cracker base instead.
There was also a pairing of smoked salmon and sea urchin to try. It worked.
And we ended at the booth hosted by “Wayward Distillation House”. Here we were able to try their smooth vodka and gin made with real BC honey.
We later all convened to hear the Mayor of the Comox Valley speak. He sincerely invited everyone attending today to come to Comox in June, to enjoy the festival in June.
This was certainly a great event and a good showing. Everything was delicious, this was a brilliant way to display of the quality of seafood that we are lucky to have available to us in BC. I am definitely looking forward to the BC shellfish and seafood festival in June 2017. For more information and check out their website: https://www.bcseafoodexpo.com