Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oysterfest

There are a number of things that make Autumn in New England special. Football in Foxboro, Fires in the fireplace, foliage and frost on the trees. But one festival on the Cape brings my family back every year, and it's not Octoberfest. It's the Wellfleet Oysterfest, and the world's best oysters. Wellfleets have the best flavor by far, but this festival is much more than just shellfish with a smooth, salty ocean flavor. There are almost 100 businesses selling arts, crafts, food, beer, and other items native to the Cape. For the ninth year, Wellfleet holds this festival honoring the town's long history with the shellfishing industry. There's a 5k road race, facepainting and activities for the kids, shucking contests, cooking demonstrations, live bands, wine tastings, and tennis round robin among other activities. There is also speaker series that takes a look at the history of an industry that dates back to ancient Roman times, and how shellfishing survives today despite limited resources.

You can eat oysters in just about every way possible at this festival: grilled, fried, on the halfshell. There's oyster stew, oyster fritters, and Sam Adams even created an oyster stout specifically for this event. Unfortunately for those of you who like your oysters at the bottom of a shot, I didn't see them serving oyster shooters at this open air party. Head over to the Bookstore Cafe by the harbor, and I'm sure the bartender will hook you up. I like mine stright from the cold water, high salt beds of Wellfleet Harbor. There is no substitute for the briny, salty, ocean flavor of a Wellfleet oyster. Add cocktail sauce, champagne mignonette, or tabasco if you'd like; but for me it takes away from the fresh flavor. Thousands make the trip out from all over the country and the world. Crowds can make the weekend feel an upscale version of Harpoonfest, and northeastern rudeness can make it's way into this quaint little village on the Cape. But if you enjoy oysters, chowder, and everything seafood, this is the place to be in the middle of October. Why? because as it says on a number t-shirts for sale, "Eevryone can use a good shuck."

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