Food & Drink

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - —Nick Walker

The best oys­ters in Canada

WE’VE BEEN CUL­TI­VAT­ING these rough-shelled del­i­ca­cies since the most deca­dent cen­turies of the Ro­man Em­pire, and pluck­ing them from the wild for many thou­sands of years longer. Love them for their unadul­ter­ated-ocean taste and slur­pable raw tex­ture, revel in the leg­end of their aphro­disiac pow­ers (thanks again, Ro­mans), but find an es­tab­lish­ment that sources the fresh­est “choice-grade” va­ri­eties and shucks them right — it’s worth it. These days, many of the world’s best oys­ters are be­ing raised off Cana­dian coasts, so we asked the ex­perts at Ot­tawa’s The Whales­bone Restau­rants (the­whales­ — who know this lux­u­ri­ous shellfish bet­ter than just about any­one — to lead us to some real pearls.

1 SALT BAY | Eel Lake Oys­ter Farm, Salt Bay, N.S.

“Mer­roir” (ocean ter­roir) is what dif­fer­en­ti­ates oys­ters across a re­gion. This plump bay-grown va­ri­ety is a touch saltier than the same farm’s tidal-lake cul­ti­vated Ruis­seau oys­ter, but shares its beloved but­tery flavour and dis­tinct “grassy” fin­ish.

2 CON­WAY PEARL | Five Star Shellfish, Con­way Nar­rows, P.E.I.

The Con­way Pearl’s deep shell holds a sat­is­fy­ing amount of lip-smack­ing oys­ter liquor, a must if you want to prop­erly en­joy the bal­anced and savoury tones of the creamy bite it­self.

3 CASCUMPEC | Cascumpec Bay Oys­ter Co., Fox­ley River, P.E.I.

The pris­tine, nu­tri­ent-rich wa­ters of P.E.I.’S Cascumpec Bay pro­duce a rounded co­coa-brown shell, lovely glis­ten­ing meat and a brac­ingly salty flavour that fin­ishes sweet.

4 VAL­LEY PEARL | Val­ley Pearl Oys­ters, Tyne Val­ley, P.E.I.

Be­cause Val­ley Pearls are wild bot­tom-cul­tured, they de­velop an earthy, sweet mush­room tone that adds com­plex­ity to their clas­sic clean Malpeque char­ac­ter.

5 ST-SI­MON | L’étang Ruis­seau Bar Ltée., Ship­pa­gan, N.B.

Grown near the east end of warm Chaleur Bay, these dy­namic oys­ters start off crisp and briny, but go down but­tery sweet.

6 BLACK PEARL | Out­landish Shellfish Guild, Quadra Is­land, B.C.

Pa­cific wa­ters fresh­ened with cold moun­tain runoff cre­ate small but deep shells and a vel­vety meat that’s light on brine and fin­ishes with re­fresh­ing notes of melon and cu­cum­ber.

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