B&G Oyster Festival

May 17, 2009

My apologies to certain larger and better-known oyster festivals (names withheld; you know who you are), because I must hereby proclaim that you just got SCHOOLED in the art of the oyster festival by Boston’s B&G Oysters, which put on one hell of a show on May 4 to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of their patio. All the expected elements were there: shucking contests; celebrity chef contests; spectacularly fresh oysters from Island Creek, Cotuit, and Matunuck (which were new to me—and very good, in that highly mineral Rhode Island way); and copious beer from Harpoon Brewery. But B&G took it up a notch with shucking demonstrations by Chopper Young, world’s best oyster shucker; “Discover Your Oyster Profile” seminars, presented by their incredibly knowledgeable staff, in Stir, their chic demonstration kitchen across the street; and some truly inspired wine selections: Guy Bossard’s 2007 Clos de Briords, a Muscadet Sevre et Maine made biodynamically using seaweed fertilizer, which gives an extra hit of salt and chalk, and X’armant, a 2007 Txakolina, a crisp and tangy Basque wine made with indigenous grapes that screams out for shellfish.

But even all that can’t explain why B&G’s oyster festival is just…so…FUN. For that, the tight space gets some credit, because squeezing 300 people into a tight space ratchets up the pressure and creates a boisterous, cacophonous party atmosphere, but mostly we can thank Barbara Lynch and the gang for setting the tone by cutting loose and making it clear that they expected everybody else to follow suit. (For proof, see scenes from the evening here.) It was everything an oyster festival should be, and you’d be crazy to miss the sixth anniversary, same time next year.

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