That’s a geoduck in the centre of the photo to the right, just one of the amazing clams harvested in British Columbia and on display (and being eaten) at the BC Shellfish Festival this past weekend in Comox. When it comes to shellfish, it’s all about the water. Clear, cold, and full of nutrients there for the taking. The nutrients are taken in by many varieties of shellfish here on the West Coast, and our own appetites for the tasty morsels inside the shells are growing. Today on Island Artisans, I talked about some of the people who make their living growing and cooking BC shellfish.
I was a happy clam following the festival, and the festival organizers had a lot to do with that, especially during the special sold-out dinner on Friday night. A raw bar by the seaside along the front of Filbert Lodge, local singer-songwriter Emily Spiller serenading us, dinner under a tent on the water, and six lovely courses provided by some of BC’s top chefs, including seafood maestro Robert Clark of Vancouver’s C Restaurant. Clark’s scallop opening dish stood out, and one of my other favourites was the mussel dish prepared by Chef Richard Verhagen who has been running various restaurants on Salt Spring Island the past few years and who is naturally a fan of Salt Spring Island mussels. He specializes in cooking over wood fires, and says mussels are an easy dish to cook. This dish is an unusual combination, mussels and clams, plus orange juice, white wine, tomato paste, Montreal steak spice and blue cheese. Somehow it all works together, and you can find the recipe by scrolling down on this page.
*This is not the best time of year to find BC mussels. They are spawning right now and not suitable to consume. They should be back on the market within a few weeks.
If you still want to enjoy more BC seafood this summer in an open air setting, buy a ticket for Sips and Seafood, one of the main events at this year’s Taste, Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine. On July 22nd you can eat lots of BC seafood and sip BC beverages on the lovely seaside terrace at the Laurel Point Inn. I went to a sneak preview yesterday afternoon and I sampled real BC seafood treats like Dungeness Crab, oysters, sidestripe shrimp, mussels and a fantastic scallop risotto. Presiding over the groaning board was Executive Chef Takashi Ito, who is so happy to work with BC shellfish and other seafoods because they satisfy his number one demand in ingredients: they have to taste good! And they do…especially what he served yesterday afternoon.