Sandra M. Grant P.Dt. - Registered Clinical Nutritionist
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what's happening in Montreal

Oyster festival Season!!

Unlike most people, I do not think of September as the end of summer. The sunshine and warm days often continue well into the middle of October! September is one of my favourite months partially because of the weather, and partially because it is packed with outdoor festivities. This weekend it's the Montreal Oysterfest at Les Terrasses Bonsecours in the Old port of Montreal. It used to be that oysters were on the menu as, well...oysters! Now we have the choice of Pacific oysters, Kumamoto Oysters, Atlantic Oysters, European flats and Olympia oysters to name a few. All oysters are excellent sources of protein, vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, and are quite rich in magnesium and phosphorous but the best thing about them is the taste!!! Cool, crisp and refreshing they are a wonderful accompaniment for a glass of Yalumba, The Y series, Viognier 2013!

For those of you who are new to oysters, the following is a mini guide to the differences between some of the oysters commonly offered in our Montreal restos.

Pacific Oysters: Smaller and sweeter these oysters have a more fluted, sharply pointed shell than Atlantics or European flats. Pacifics are usually named after where they are grown, such as Totten Inlet and Fanny Bay, but some are trade names such as the justly well-known Sweetwater oyster from Hog Island Oyster Company.

Kumamoto Oysters are characterized by their deep, almost bowl-shaped shell and are small, sweet, almost nutty oysters. Like Pacifics, their shells are deeply fluted, sharp and pointy. They spawn later and in warmer water than other oysters, so they remain firm and sweet well into summer months. Kumamotos are widely cultivated in Japan and the West Coast.

Atlantic Oysters (Bluepoints, Wellfleets, and More) Many people are surprised to learn that Bluepoints, Wellfleets, Malpeques and Beausoleils are Atlantic oysters. True bluepoints are raised in Long Island's Great South Bay but "bluepoint oyster" is often used as a general term for any Atlantic oyster served on the half-shell. Atlantic oysters tend to be more savory than other oysters and have a crisp texture.

European Flats or "Belons" are characterized by their smooth flat shell and lovely seaweedy, sharp mineral taste. They have a meaty texture with almost a crunch to them.While Belons are, indeed, European flats, not all European flats are Belons as true Belons must be grown in the Brittany region of France.

Olympia Oysters Olympias are quite tiny. They actually make the small Kumamotos look like giants, often coming in about the size of a quarter. They are the only oyster native to the West Coast of the U.S. Their popularity in San Francisco during the Gold Rush almost wiped them out, and they were believed to be extinct for decades.  Olympias at the market and in restaurants are cultivated, mostly in British Columbia. They are sweet, coppery, and metallic.

If outdoor festivals aren't your thing, but you'd like to try a backyard oyster shucking party,
click here for a short video on oystershucking. 

As for other outdoor happenings in September, there's free outdoor Opera at Olympic Park Esplanade, Arbrasca if you're into something a little more adventurous, Apple picking (ALWAYS one of my favourites), The Terry Fox run at the Old Port, or if it's raining, you might consider the OSM performance of Romeo and Juliet, A night in Verona based on Shakespear's famous, although heart wrenching tragedy at Place des arts. 

Whatever you do, Enjoy! The season is far from over.

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