Close your eyes. Smell the saltiness of the ocean in the air. Feel a spray of water hit your face as a mental wave splashes on the shore. Can you feel where you are? If you stop long enough, I bet you can almost feel the rhythm of the tide under your feet.
This is how I felt on Friday, September 30 (3PM-10PM), when I went to Shaw’s Oyster Fest in Chicago. The smell was that awesome oceaniness (not a word but it should be) of fresh oysters, the splashes were itty bitty rain drops that Mother Nature decided to release (it set the mood) and the rhythm was the pulse of bands Shaw’s had lined up for a night of live music and seafood.
The first thing we had to do is grab some raw east coast Beusoliel oysters. All they needed was a spritz of lemon and they slid down easily. (I learned yesterday that East coast oysters have a smoother edge compared to the west coast….I never knew that but think I need to do some hands on research!.)
The next fun thing was that Shaw’s sister restaurant Oyster Bah hosted an oyster roast. (This was actually a highlight for me.) With oysters over a hot grill, the oyster masters (I think that was their title), steamed them until they popped open and were ready to eat.
Served six on platter accompanied with butter, we got to do a little shucking of our own as we popped each one open. (I was intimidated shanking the first one but felt like a pro when I was done with our platter.) I added a little of the Bad Seed Hot sauce and fell in love.
If you are an oyster virgin, I really think this was an awesome way to learn to love the texture and flavor without the hesitancy of eating an oyster raw. I also loved the liquor (you know the juicy stuff in the shell.) I would have licked out every drop if that were socially acceptable. (Given there were folks wearing bibs, I think I could have gotten away with some licks.)
If you were interested in a different kind of liquor, Founder’s Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan) was available to keep folks happy with their eclectically brewed creations. (There were also a nice variety of wines available. Given I don’t drink, I would have loved a craft soda option.)
Even the non-oyster fans found plenty to eat like crab bites, clam chowder and my personal favorite…a lobster roll.
I didn’t get a chance to stay long enough to see the Grand Slurp Off (oyster eating contest) but congratulations to the winner.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when I was standing waiting for my oysters. The Friends Band started to sing Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. It was so fun to watch people prepare their oyster to suit their tastes while beebopping their heads to the music. (The other bands were headliner Bumpus, Big Dog Mercer and Breezy Rodio.)
As silly as it sounds, I wish I could have bottled this moment. Shaw’s Oyster Fest was giving everyone a reason to smile at each other and just enjoy a great night in the city of Chicago. What more can a person want?