03 September 2007

Aw Shucks. Oyster Frenzy

At the far end of the room a fire was dancing in the large grate and wallflowers gathered around it, nodding knowingly to one another. I found Liz, Bronnie and Steve there. “Hi! Sorry I’m late, I had a long wait for a cab.” In fact the taxi ride was a frustrating episode in itself, not only did the driver not know his way around town, he could barely drive. I almost offered to swap places and drive the bloody cab myself. Anyway, there I was, buoyed with the anticipation of indulging in 14 different types of oysters. The room was abuzz with a hearty throng of hardcore bivalve imbibers.

At each end of the 20 foot marble bar was an oyster station, dressed in ice, upon which shuckers were piling freshly opened oysters, complete with their juices. The bartenders served from the centre. At one end the suppliers had been busy and prepacked a selection of freshly shucked oysters into cardboard trays, ready for consumption.

I scooped up two trays and danced through the crowd towards my friends. I ignored the glances of the men - as I always do there. Walking through that crowd across the polished concrete floor, in that long cavernous space, somehow always felt like running a lascivious gamut, and I found it unnerving.

Swooping down on my gang I plopped one of the trays on the table before them and pirouetted away to locate my other friends, Damian & Neil. They were but a few steps away, and were already on their second dozen. Damian handed me a disposable cocktail fork and I began upon my first. A glass of bubbles was pressed into my spare hand, forcing me to juggle my cardboard tray awkwardly.

I picked up a crusty grey shell, and took the live oyster onto my tongue, greedily devouring the sweet unctuous flesh. As the flavour hit my tongue, I plunged headlong into a rolling wave deep out to sea. As I threw each one back, I tossed the shells with great aplomb into a nearby bin - followed by the tray - and began on nursing my drink appropriately. That evening these would be the first of many waves of ecstasy to wash over me.

Oyster Frenzy is held bi-annually in May and September, usually on the first Monday evening of the month at The Botanical Hotel in South Yarra. For three hours from 6:00-9:00pm you are free to eat as many oysters as you wish and included in the $65 tariff are Asahi beer, a NV French Champagne, a selection of local white wines and a house cocktail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sticky Fingers
Sad to hear of your experience with the buggered bivalves at The Bot'. I am no gastronome, however, I have, over the years, eaten in so many unpropitious circumstances and from so many truly awful kitchens that I have come to consider myself almost as much a connoisseur of bad food as I hope I am of of good food.
Oysters are a delicate food that require appropriate treatment to ensure that they are served at their freshest and this means shucking must occur as near as possible to the moment that they are served.
May the gods intervene and reistate those most revered of oyster purveyors, The Ash Bros, for the next frenzy, regards Ponzu.