I was excited to be in Seattle, close to the ocean, and nearer to oysters again. I’d just read about Olympia Oysters in a book … publushed in the ’70s. Turns out they were nearly extinct for a bit. They’re not at a store near you. Hopefully we can find some near Netarts Bay, Oregon.
I last had oysters in Florida, basically a decade ago. Fortunately / unfortunately, the Florida Apalachicola oysters were amazing – some of the best I’ve ever had, good enough to put Indian Pass on the all-time awesome list. But, as it was more-or-less a decade ago, I was in the mood for basically anything. Whole Foods was happy to provide.
Whole Foods Oysters (~$1 per)
Whole Foods was the third grocery store we searched for oysters. We’d struck out at the first two. When we’ve visited Boston, we’ve had good luck with the Whole Foods near our friends Coulter and Kristy. Last time we were there, we grilled a bunch and heaped on diced habanero. They were delicious, but only Coulter and I ate them (sinuses running).
I should have taken the scarcity as a sign. I guess people don’t go to grocery stores here for seafood. They probably go to fish markets instead. We should have. The Whole Foods oysters ended up being pretty mediocre. I, of course, still ate them. I bought six Barron Point and six Pacific something. Both were a little milky looking. They lacked the fresh, bright taste of the sea. They weren’t great. I fried up the last three for breakfast (I couldn’t stomach all 12 in one sitting). They benefited from the cooking. I missed Florida.
The Walrus and the Carpenter (~$0.75 per)
Lisa was keen to find me an oyster happy hour. The Walrus and the Carpenter provided it (the name comes from this). Located in Ballard near the west end of 50th street, it wasn’t much trouble to swing over there at 4PM when they opened and when the oysters were the best deal. Well … we arrived at 3:30PM thinking it’d be open (we got our happy hour deals confused). It wasn’t. The other couple that had arrived at the same time decided to wait in the hallway. We grabbed a beer nearby at the Old Town Alehouse and waited there. We tried our luck.
Our luck turned out to be good. We got a table outside just fine, and I ordered one of each of the six oysters on the menu. The prices vary, but between 4-5PM the prices are 50% off (from 5-6PM you save 25%). Lisa ordered some smoked trout and a glass of wine (priced $1 off). I had a beer. We split olives and bread and spoiled our dinner appetites. The food was fantastic. The oysters were fresh and bright. Seattle’s seafood was redeemed.
I can’t wait to try more the next time we’re in Seattle. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were headed for the Willapa Bay, producers of 9% of ALL oysters produced by the United States. Things were about to get even yummier.