Today on Island Artisans on CBC Radio, I talked about the BC oyster industry and a new marketing campaign called Pacific Kiss.
This campaign is meant to let more British Columbians, and for that matter, oyster lovers around the world, that BC has some of the best oysters in the world, grown in pristine waters.
Something I’ve known for a long time now is that our oyster farmers here on the West Coast produce a very high quality oyster because we have very clean ocean waters that are chock-full of nutrients that oysters love to gobble up. They are filter feeders and they can filter over 100 litres of water in a day. I also knew that they are high in protein, very nutritious because of the zinc and other minerals and vitamins they contain. What I didn’t know up until yesterday was that there is a very artisanal nature to growing these oysters in our coastal waters.
The flavour, shape of the shell and hardness of the shell are all components of an oyster the farmer can influence through his or her techniques. Some oysters spend all their time in shallow water on the beach. Others are grown at greater depths in colder water, affecting growth rates and shell development. Some oysters are removed from the water and tumbled in a machine to remove the wispy edges of shell, which ends up affecting the meat to shell ratio. Some oysters may be tumbled a few times, others up to 25 times in their life cycle.
Pictured at right are Ronald St. Pierre, executive chef/owner of Locals Restaurant in Courtenay, Sandra Hamilton of the BC Shellfish Growers Association, and Richard Hardy of Pentlatch Seafoods, the Comox Tribe's aquaculture company. They produce an oyster called the Komo Gway, named after a mythical creature who controls the tides.
The deal of the month has to be going to Locals in Courtenay during the month of March and being able to eat the 12-oyster Pacific Kiss platter for just $25!!! During the Olympic Games in Vancouver, a similar platter was being sold for $42! Go for it at Locals, a restaurant dedicated to serving regional produce all year round.
For more information on the Pacific Kiss campaign and BC shellfish in general, go to the BC Shellfish Growers Association website.