Well, not the Walrus, but my good friends Nils and Maria. It was their birthdays and they decided that they would have an oyster party. I was invited to get up with them at 7 am and drive an hour south to Zeeland to go gather oysters straight from the North Sea. Most days I do not ever want to be up at 7 am, but I felt this adventure made the early hour “ok”. Rubber boots, rubber gloves, oyster knives, flathead screwdrivers, hammers, buckets, yogurt, muesli, stove pears, hope, and dreams were all piled into the car with 3 sleepy people. We arrived at Putti’s place (a beautiful and peaceful oyster picking spot) near Wilhelminadorp around 8:30 am and hit the beach.
Sometimes, life gives me such gentle moments of sparkly sea and quiet and waves with good friends and it is just too good. Like something out of fiction. I feel very lucky to have these moments.
In oyster picking, it is important to remember the gloves. Oysters are cover in razor-sharp oyster armor (like barnacles and pieces of dead, other oyster’s shells) and so they will cut up your hands like nobody’s business. I learned the hard way. Soggy gloves may feel inconvenient and stupid, but little, tiny cuts all over your hands filled with freshly squeezed lemon juice for your delicious, new belly-buddies will convince you quickly that soggy gloves are a wonderful miracle.
It is best to pick the oysters on the water edge rather than the ones exposed by the low tide. The oysters were a Japanese variety that is considered invasive to the native wildlife. For an invasive species, they were delicious. Nils also told us we can pretty much eat any seaweed we find, however, like all things, some taste better than others. Supposedly the flat, deep red variety is super tasty.
Eventually, what felt like 30 kilos of oysters, were gathered into buckets to be carried up the beach and to the car. Maria wants more oysters, maybe from a different spot. Nils and I look at Maria and our life supply of extremely heavy oysters and then back at Maria again… It is her birthday. So we pack it all up in the car and head to another spot. Fortunately, it was not a good spot. Mostly mud and seaweed, so it was decided that 3 buckets of oysters were enough.
Now for lunch, home, naps and party preparations.
Oyster Shallot Vinegar
- 2 finely diced shallots
- 1/2 cup of raspberry vinegar
- juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
Moscow Mule (Arielle style)
- 1 shot of vodka
- 250 ml Belvoir Fruit Farms Organic Ginger Beer (it is the best)
- 2 thin slices of fresh ginger
- 1 slice of lemon
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 drop of rosewater (optional- I felt it would really compliment the oysters and I had it in my kitchen- so why not?)
And, as usual, all parties end in dance parties. As they should.