It’s My Party, And We’ll Shuck ‘Cause I Want To

I don’t think it needs to be said again, but I’ll say it anyway. I love oysters. Besides the facts that make them so insanely neat, I love them, most of all, for their ability to bring friends closer together, put smiles on faces and fill (some of) us with mixed feelings of dread, wonder and respect. From childhood, oysters have been a favourite of mine and will remain on my love-list forever. They never cease to amaze me!


Last month I turned twenty-eight. Twenty-eight on the twenty-eighth. To be more specific: my ‘champagne birthday’. I decided to plan something fun for this once-in-a-lifetime happening and, almost in the same instant, I decided that oysters had to be involved. If you know me well enough (or have thoroughly explored this blog), you know that it makes perfect sense that I would gather my friends on my birthday for a group Oyster 101 and shuckfest. All my favourite people AND oysters (AND spicy caesars) in the same place? That just can’t be beat. Nothing could make me happier than to share a bit of oyster-love with the ones I love! Also: can I really be friends with you if you don’t know a thing or two about oysters? (Kidding…sort of not, though.)



I held my birthday oyster shucking class at Oyster Boy, (best oyster bar in Toronto!) and invited all my besties. Continue reading

A Classic Mignonette: An Oystergirl’s Best Friend

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but a girl like me would have to say that there are far better things in life than diamonds. For me, this list includes oysters. Some of the most beautiful things in the world come from the sea, a whole different world full of colours and life and secrets that will never be revealed to us. Oysters, to me, are the secrets of the ocean contained. Each beautiful shell unique and carrying the smell, the taste and the stories of the sea.


If you don’t know by now, oysters are one of my favourite things in the world. They are not only a favourite food, they are an astoundingly complex and interesting species to study. I could spend days discussing my love for oysters and all the good they bring to this world. If you’d like to hear more about that, for the love of oysters, click here!

If you love eating these briny beauties as much as I do, you must know that going out to an oyster bar can start to get expensive. Shucking them yourself is lots of fun (if you know how) and a great money saver! I’ll seriously warn you though, please shuck carefully! You don’t want to hurt yourself! If you’re in Toronto (Ontario, Canada), I recommend contacting Oysterboy to do a shucking class! Lots to learn, and lots of fun!

Shucking your own oysters has lots of benefits! You save money, you can enjoy oysters in the comfort of your own home (or whatever environment you please) and you can impress friends and family at get togethers or family gatherings. Oysters are great for any occasion!

There’s nothing better than a freshly shucked oyster eaten as is, but I do like to play around with different flavours so I always have my go-to sauces and oyster-sidekicks available. Continue reading

Oyster Fest Niagara!

We took a little drive down to Niagara on Sunday for Oyster Fest Niagara! The event started at two, but we couldn’t make it until later on. I would have liked to have seen the shucking competition. 😦 After a bit less than an hour of driving in the GORGEOUS weather, we finally arrived at Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery in Beamsville, Ontario. Stepping out of the car onto a gravel road and taking a big breath of way-fresher-than-Toronto air instantly put a smile on my face. The sun was shining and, even though my hair was all tangled from the drive (windows down, sunroof open), I was happy.

But of course I got even happier after taking a few steps closer. With a plate of freshly shucked oysters in one hand, and a spicy caesar in the other, I stood taking in the sights and sounds around me. Talking, laughing, slurping, munching, drinking and dancing to the sound of the funkiest funk.

When I found out about the oyster festival, I got a little (a lot) excited. Continue reading

Shucking Up A Storm!

You may think it’s a waste of time and money to take an oyster shucking class, and that your pry-it-open-with-a-screwdriver, smash-it-with-a-hammer, or stab-yourself-in-the-hand methods are working just fine, but I’d say learning the proper way is totally worth it.


Last weekend I took an oyster shucking class at Oyster Boy. It was so much fun. Eating oysters can be quite an expensive hobby. If you’re an oyster lover like me, I’m sure you already know this. Shucking your own oysters is a great skill to have. You can save money by buying your oysters at the market or from a wholesaler and shucking them yourself. But, I’m a believer in doing things the right way, which is why I wanted to learn to shuck from the experts. Impress your friends with gorgeously shucked oysters, that aren’t full of grit/sand.

The classes at Oyster Boy happen every weekend (Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-1:00). Each class holds 8-12 people and each shucker receives Continue reading

St. Lawrence Market: This Weekend’s Seafood Haul…And Resulting Feast

So it’s been established that I should not be allowed to roam St. Lawrence Market unsupervised. It’s like giving a kindergarten kid a hundred bucks and sending them to the candy store… a bit too much of a good time.

For those of you who don’t know the St. Lawrence Market, it’s the largest indoor market in Toronto and consists of two buildings. The North Market is home to weekly farmer’s markets and antique markets, while the South Market is a two-floor food market filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood, pasta, wine, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, florists, and even kitchen ware (everything you could think of). For those of you who do know the market, you can probably understand why I lose control when I’m there. It’s like a food lover’s dream come true.


Saturday afternoon I decided to head over to the market just to “check it out”. Continue reading

Oyster Boy: An Oyster Girl’s Dream

It only took me a dozen oysters at Oysterfest in Toronto two years ago to realize what I’d been missing out on for so many years. I hadn’t eaten raw oysters before that special day, and fell in love with the briny beauties instantly. I didn’t know much about oysters or the oyster community in Toronto back then. All I knew was that I needed to find out where the best oysters were, and have some more!



It’s not only their AMAZING oysters that make Oyster Boy my favourite oyster bar. It’s also the atmosphere. I love everything about the place. It’s a small, warm, cozy restaurant by Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West with wonderful food and terrific people. Everyone is extremely friendly, from the shuckers, to the servers, to the chefs. It’s one of those restaurants that you walk into and can feel the love. You feel their love for oysters, for the restaurant, and for eachother. The restaurant is simply, and very well, decorated. The walls are adorned with all things oyster and the sea. You’ll find a beautiful collection of everything from family photos to seaside memorabilia, art, maps, and oyster shells. They’ve even got pretty little oyster shell light fixtures along the walls. You can tell each of these pieces has got a story behind it, and that’s what makes it more special than anything. Take the time to check it all out. Oyster boy is like a small family that welcomes you into their home. I sometimes joke that it’s my second home (and by joke, I mean I sort of wish it was). Everything’s just so great there that it seems silly to go anywhere else. For a while I didn’t even bother trying other oyster bars. I’ve now tried a handful of places in Toronto, and have to say that Oyster Boy remains my fave.

Oyster Boy has built a strong reputation for being one of the best oyster houses in the city. They are also one the main suppliers of oysters in Toronto, catering to restaurants, events, and private parties. Their oysters are always fresh and you’ll find some of the top shuckers in Canada behind the oyster bar. They’re super friendly, and so knowledgable. There’s lots to learn, so ask away! In fact, they hold really great shucking classes at the restaurant on weekends. I did a class a few months ago and it was loads of fun. You’ll learn more than you’d ever dream about oysters and all the tricks to shucking them the right way. The best part though, of course, is eating your first 16 self-shucked beauties.

My first time shucking at a shucking class. Call to check availability and book a class. Booking a class with a group of friends or colleagues for a birthday or work event is a great idea. 🙂

Our two dozen from my visit last week. These were Plack Pearls (BC), Kumamotos (USA), and St. Simons (NB). Delish. We always ask the shucker which oysters are particularly good that day. If you’re not sure which oysters to order, be sure to ask. The servers and shuckers know their stuff, and they’ll give you great suggestions.

The St. Simon oyster is one that we order quite regularly. This is a great one to start with for oyster-eating beginners. St. Simons are light, salty, slightly sweet, and delicate…nothing too robust.

The Black Pearls were really yummy, and they’re gorgeous to look at. The shells were more thin and delicate than most others I’ve seen, and the oysters had frilly black edges. They were a perfect combination of salty and sweet, and almost had a slight watermelon or melon rind flavour to them. We liked these so much that we saved them for last. 🙂

Kumamotos have always been a favourite of mine. Definitely worth a try…and then another try (and another one). They are small oysters that originate from the Kumamoto region of Kyushu, Japan. They were transported to the United States and are now farmed on the west coast. They have deep cupping, fluted shells (like a little oyster bucket…so cute) and a mild, smooth, sweet taste. They are sometimes described as having a buttery flavour. I’ve also heard them be referred to as a “dessert oyster”. I always say they’re like the cheesecake of oysters…maybe that’s taking it a little too far…I love cheesecake.

IMG_6272Oysters are always served with lemon, freshly grated horseradish, and three housemade sauces. The sauces include a cocktail sauce, a ginger and banana pepper hot sauce, and a shallot and red wine vinaigrette. The hot pepper blend is not too hot, it adds the perfect amount of spice, and the red wine vinaigrette is amazing. Their sauces are the best I’ve had.

There are cooked oyster options too, if you’re not into the whole raw seafood thing. They bake oysters a few different ways, or you can order them fried. I’ve tried the Oysters Royale, baked with crab meat and a sherry bechamel. A really nice change from the classic Rockefellers you find at most other restaurants.

There are so many other oyster varieties I’ve eaten at Oyster Boy. Some of the others include Black Point, Beach Angel, Malpeque, Caraquette, Caspumpec, Cavendish Cup, and Colville Bay oysters. Try some from the east coast, and some from the west. Mix it up!

They have my favourite beer on tap. (Another plus.) Pints of Beau’s (and Jameson) have become our Oyster Boy tradition. It’s what I order every time I’m there. Spicy caesars are good too (with fresh horseradish, yum!).

Although oysters are a main attraction for me, I cannot deny that the rest of the menu is equally delicious! Oyster Boy is a seafood lover’s dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to try a number of different menu items on my many visits. We always order a couple of other things to go with our oysters.

I am a huge chowder fan and the Sustainable Seafood Chowder here is really good. It’s rich and hearty, and the nice, plump clams are the best part. A lot of the time they have a daily soup special as well, so make sure you ask your server. The daily specials are always tres fab!

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This is a past soup special: Smoked Whitefish Jalapeno Corn Chowder, with fingerling potatoes and topped with seasoned popcorn. It was similar to the Smoked Jalapeno Corn Chowder with Smoked Oysters they served at Soupstock 2012.

ob fish tacos
Oyster Boy makes a pretty mean fish taco…and fish tacos rule! The fish is crisp, juicy and has got nice, spicy flavour. The juicy, saucy goodness tends to leak all over your hands and you end up with sauce all over your face, but this is what tacos are about. Ask for some extra napkins and dig in. Enjoy them!

Steamed clams and mussels are both classic seafood favourites, and we order them here time and time again. The mussels are done three ways: classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, a coconut curry broth, and a smoky tomato chorizo broth. I’ve tried all three. The coconut curry broth can be a nice change if you’re in a curry kind of mood, but you can’t go wrong with the classic. The clams are steamed in the classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, and usually plump and juicy. (If you ask nicely you could try them in one of the mussel flavours.) Don’t forget to ask for bread to mop up that broth!

They serve whole steamed shellfish, lobster or crab (when it’s available). It’s so much cheaper to steam one of these bad boys at home, but you deserve a treat every now and then! The dungeness crab we had was fresh and perfectly steamed.

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The Sturgeon Ceviche is divine. It’s a great starter, served with crispy taro chips.

ob fries

I love oyster boy’s thin-cut shoestring fries. They are to die for, and a great side to add to your meal. They come with a choice of chipotle, lime jalapeno aioli, or a curry sauce on a half oyster shell. 🙂 They also offer yummy onion rings, the size of your hand!

They’ve got other seafood favourites such as crab cakes and fish and chips (I’ve heard the fish and chips are really great), along with some tasty salads as well. They also serve pasta and non-seafood options. (I’m usually there for seafood.) Always check what the daily specials are because they are always AMAZING! They have some really creative delicious choices!

We always stop by late in the evening, so I’ve never had to wait for a table, although I’ve heard it gets crazy busy during prime meal times. Reserve a table to be safe.

I’ve hopefully inspired you to give this place a try. It’s one of my favourite restaurants and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Click here to visit their website. (FYI: I don’t think their menu is up to date.) Like them on Facebook!

Happy seafooding! xx

For The Love Of Oysters

If you even mention the word oyster, my face lights up. There are not many things in this world that fascinate me as oysters do. I adore them. For any true oyster lover out there, you know how I feel. There’s a tension, a sense of excitement, in the fact that we love these creatures and we can’t stop loving. It’s a strange kind of love, that cannot be explained. Oysters are not just a delicious food, they are a fascinating species! And most people know nothing about them! They date back to prehistoric times, they were around with the dinosaurs. Archaeologists have found large shell piles of oysters and other shellfish that date back to neolithic times. They were efficient at doing what they do, and have been doing it ever since. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

IMG-20121124-01958 IMG_4715

I’ve loved oysters since as far back as I can remember. While other kids could be cheered up by candy or ice cream, my mother would come into my room with a smile and say, “Sorry I got so angry…I picked up some oysters, want to do hot pot tonight?”. I would pretend I was still mad, but was actually so happy inside. Oysters make my day. Up until a couple of years ago, my experiences with oysters only went as far as eating cooked oysters and came mostly from my Asian side of the family. We would have sizzling plates of oysters with green onions, ginger and garlic, oysters at our Chinese hot pot dinners, Chinese deep fried breaded oysters, and the occasional oysters and chips on our road trips to the east coast of Canada. This was enough to keep me happy, but unbeknownst to me I had only uncovered the tip of the oyster iceberg.

hkoystercooked Delicious cooked oyster in Hong Kong, bought fresh at the market and cooked at the seafood restaurant next door. (Sam Shing, Hong Kong.)

Two summers ago, at Oysterfest in Toronto, I had my first raw oyster. It was love at first…slurp. For all the squeamish eaters that have never tried a raw oyster, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! JUST DO IT ALREADY! I’ve heard all the excuses (my friends know who they are) not to eat them. “They are slimy.” “They are gooey.” “They look like dino boogers.” Raw oysters may not be your cup of tea, but you’ll never know until you try one for yourself. I’ve converted quite a few of my non-oyster-eating friends over this past year. Find an oyster bar near you, bring some friends for back up, and be ready to have your mind blown! (Do it now! Before you change your mind!)

oysterfest 3

My first dozen oysters. 🙂


It’s hard to describe the flavour of an oyster, but there is definitely something that sets these creatures apart from all other shellfish. The French poet Léon-Paul Fargue said eating an oyster was “like kissing the sea on the lips.” An oyster takes me to the seashore in a mouthful. They taste of the ocean, like the smell of the sea breeze at low tide. They are more than just a tasty treat, an oyster excites both the palate and the mind. Rowan Jacobsen described it perfectly in an article I read when he said, “The proliferating category of oyster adjectives—cucumber, citrus, melon, copper, smoke—is useful, but doesn’t cut to the core. At some level, it’s not about taste or smell at all. Because an oyster, like a lover, first captures you by bewitching your mind.”


Pick up the half shell, tilt your head back and let the oyster slip into your mouth, along with the liquid that it’s resting in. The oyster’s “liquor” is seawater, and is part of what makes it so delicious. I’ve been told by shuckers how insulting it is to see people dumping the liquid out before they eat their oysters. Shuckers work so hard to keep that in there for you! Oyster etiquette rule #1: Don’t do that. The fresher the oyster the more sea-filled flavour is captured within its shell. The initial saltiness you will taste can range from really salty, to mildly salty or unnoticeable. This is why oysters are usually served with lemon or a mignonette. The acid in the lemon juice or vinegar sort of cancels out the salt. Oysters are like miniature water filters. They feed on the plankton, algae, and other particles floating around them. An adult oyster can filter up to 5 litres of seawater every hour. That’s a lot for such a tiny little thing! That’s why the condition of the water in which the oysters are growing plays such an important role in the survival of the oyster and its flavour/texture. They are what they eat! The tastes of different oysters change with the climates, salinity of the waters, and what they feed on in different places around the world.

One question I’ve been asked a lot is, “Do you just swallow them whole, or do you have to chew them?”. Chew them! (I mean, you don’t HAVE to.) Chewing is where the real body and finish of the oyster comes through. You get to really experience its texture and sweetness. You taste its cool, buttery, salty, seaweedy, flavour. With some oysters you can go through a series of flavours. Some oysters have a flavour that lingers even after you’ve swallowed it, just like wine or whiskey. This is referred to as its finish. Some don’t have much of a finish, and the flavour disappears almost immediately. Flavour is also very dependant on season. A species will taste very different from one season to the next. Oysters fatten up right before the cold winter months. All the stored glycogen makes them extra sweet. Farmers know exactly when to harvest their crop. To farm oysters, farmers actually manipulate the oysters’ environments, moving them from slow moving waters, to waters with more current, waters with higher algae levels, to warmer or colder waters. This all has to do with feeding cycles, seasons, spawning… There’s so much to know about oysters! They’re just such amazing creatures!

Oysters are also good for you! Like most shellfish, they are low in calories and saturated fats. They are full of protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Like fish, they can improve your health by providing essential minerals and vitamins such as zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and vitamins A, B6, C, folate, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and a huge amount of vitamin B 12.

Apart from being one of my favourite treats, oysters provide me with this never-ending amount of learning. There’s way more for you to find out about these shelled beauties than you know. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great shuckers, farmers, and other individuals involved in the oyster world, and they never run out of stories and fun facts to tell me. Did you know you can tell an oyster’s age by counting the ridges/rings on its shell? Each ring takes about a year to grow (one ring = one year)! An oyster can change its sex from male to female several times in a year. Their reproductive organs contain both eggs and sperm, and so they are technically capable of fertilizing their own eggs. Once the female oyster has been fertilized, she will release millions of eggs into the water. Within six hours these larvae develop. They move around the waters for two or three more weeks before settling into an oyster bed or reef where they will mature within about a year. I took a shucking class a few months ago. It was great! We learned TONS about oysters, learned to shuck, how to handle, and how to store oysters. Best of all, we each got 16 oysters and a shucking knife to take home with us. Learn to shuck! Then you can enjoy your oysters in the comfort of your own home, and save a bit of money! 🙂 But make sure you learn the right way. Shucking can be dangerous. You’re prying a rock-like shell open with a knife. I’ve heard some nasty shucking stories. (Shucking knives stabbing deep enough to hit bone.) Watch the hand that’s holding the oyster!

If you’re looking to do a great shucking class in Toronto (Canada), go to Oyster Boy on Queen Street W. It’s the best oyster bar in the city, and pretty much my second home.

Hopefully I’ll have more oyster posts in the near future and I can go through some of my favourite varieties and recipes! Here’s a fun gallery of oyster photos! I have so many.

Happy shucking! And if you haven’t tried a raw oyster yet, hesitate no more! Hurry on and try one today! xx