STOP! It’s oyster time.
October 27, 2010 by Erin Thomas
French, Latin and Greek etymologies all attest to the origin of the word “oyster.” This being the common name of a group of bivalve calcified mollusks that anchor and harbor their livelihood in a marine habitat, such as the Pacific Northwest.
You might be familiar with them.
Some locals might say crustaceans, bivalves and salmon flourish in the Pacific Northwest during the months that end with “r,” leaving many with no choice but to have some colossal merrymaking to celebrate such harvest and seafood prosperity.
Cue Elliott’s Oyster House. A Seattle favorite for more than 35 years, residing on Pier 56 that sits on the very water the majority of their shellfish spawn in. That very water, the Pacific Northwest, spawns nearly 80 million pounds of oysters and is one of the largest oyster growing regions in the world.
Nick Jones, owner of Sweetwater Shellfish Farms, compared the Northwest oyster harvest to the dependability of our beloved Washington grape harvest. “Like wine does in this grape growing region, there are storms, maybe a red tide, but this is shellfish grounds,” Jones said. “It has been for 10,000 years and that won’t change.”
To celebrate the awesome and constant supply of mollusks, and in its 18th year of doing so, throughout the month of October, Elliott’s focuses on the pairing of local seafood, wine and beer and ending with a bang for their “Oyster New Year” on November 6th.
The big oyster party itself offers over 30 different varieties of local oysters to be shucked upon order at a lengthy 90-foot oyster bar, along with other fresh seafood options. More than 50 native wineries, microbrews and music will be in attendance to represent their respected local scenes and showcase along side of the main attraction.
All proceeds from the bash will benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, a 13 year old non-profit dedicated to the Sound’s restoration of water quality and native marine species and their habitats. Elliott’s will also reuse or recycle everything that is applicable from the event in their partnership with Cedar Grove, a local and sustainable composting company.
Elliott’s surge of eco-friendly practices have brought in local wineries who have the same fervor for green. Januik, Novelty Hill and Wilridge are a few to name that will be pouring their sustainable wines at the event.
Several wineries boast their white wines as the perfect accompaniment to oysters, but only few who took home the gold at the 2010 Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition and their wines are the chosen ones to be featured at the Oyster New Year Bash.
“The search for the best wines to go with oysters adds to the excitement and culture of it all,” Taylor Shellfish Farms president Bill Taylor said. “It makes it fun for everyone involved.”
The Pacific Northwest Oyster Wine Competition identifies an “oyster wine” by a few distinct qualities: “brisk and clean, good backbone of acid, mineral, dry, delicate, firm.” One glaring quality of the wine is pertinent – it can’t get in the way of the oyster.
“The wine can’t be too aromatic,” Elliott’s wine buyer Thomas Arthur said of pairing. “It needs to be crisp with acidity that will cut through the richness of the oyster.
Tasting blind and matched with Kumamoto oysters, the judges went through four tiers of 167 wines, narrowing it down to the top 10 wines that paired best with their mollusks.
Proudly paired and in full force on November 6th, Elliott’s 18th annual Oyster New Year kicks off with a VIP reception from 4:00-5:00pm which leads into the official party from 5:00-9:00pm. Space is limited, so get on it and find your tickets here.