The Divas were happy to be invited to the 5th Annual Montreal Oysterfest. This year, Montreal Oysterfest was on September 8th, 2013 on Terrasses Bonsecours Island. Your ticket options included a 35$+tx entry ticket with 2 food/drink tickets to use on site or a 65$+tx entry ticket with 10 food/drink tickets. We assure you, get the more expensive option, there are way too many food and drink options to only have two tickets. Each additional ticket is 5$, but we were so full and content with our ten tickets, and a few that Vegan Vixen found outside, that we stayed from 1:00 pm – 9:00pm eating, drinking and enjoying the show!
The Divas got to cut the long line by using the media line; life as a Diva is splendid and we got to start the festival with a glass of champagne. We did our thing and awaited P’tit Frère, Rambo, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen. As always, the proceeds go to the Open Pier Foundation for aquatic sustainability. This year the proceeds of the festival also went to the World Wildlife Fund of Canada. The Divas love eating and drinking for the good of the environment! For the event, the oysters are picked by the Old Port Fishing Company and this phenomenal event is known for bringing bars, restaurants, foodies and Montreal festival-lovers together in one venue. If you don’t like oysters, and really, you should LOVE oysters, many of the restaurants had tons of other delicious plates to choose from, or you can blow all of your tickets on booze! But we really recommend the food.
This year, supporting restaurants included: Bevo Bar + Pizzeria, Flyjin, Gaspar, Imadake, L’Orignal, Kyo, Méchant Boeuf, Suite 701, Dolcetto & Co., Ryu, Burgundy Lion, etc. The Divas started their excursion by eyeing the roasting pig on a spit at the Bevo Bar + Pizzeria booth and inquiring when it would be ready. They promised us that it would be ready by 7:00pm; unfortunately, at the time that was a whole 6 hours away. We were saddened but we had such a great time at Montreal’s Oysterfest that we were still there at 7:00pm and we ran back to Bevo for some pig! They gave us some pork and skin right off of the spit! It was wonderful. Even Vegan Vixen had nothing to say about the sanctity of animals, not that we ever listen anyway.
One of the most exciting aspects of the event was the Mott’s Clamato Caesar Throwdown. Popular and famous Montreal chefs create exciting and original Bloody Caesars to wow a panel of judges. Diva #1 has been drinking Caesars since she was 12, they were once Virgin and are now Bloody, and she hopes that next year she could be on the panel of judges. As the Divas, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen ooh-ed and aahh-ed over Danny Smiles of Le Bremner and Top Chef Canada, the Garde Manger staff that we have gotten to know, and other popular Old Montreal restaurant folk…we then realized that we were bordering chef groupie territory. Sweet Pea tried to convince Diva #1 to seduce Danny Smiles but she was sober at this point and behaving herself. The things we do for great food!
We tried to guess where we knew everyone from. We even saw our favourite bouncer from Philemon, waiters and chefs from Garde Manger and a few people that we could not place but are from the Old Port restaurant scene. We were like giggling school girls with our celebrity crushes: the Montreal food scene is just fab. Some of the more memorable and dazzling Bloody Caesar cocktails were:
- Garde Manger’s Bloody Caesar by Pat and Zoe: Rimmed with lime, speck, ginger and jerk spice, this Caesar consists of lobster, clam, crab and oyster terrine with celery. Oysters and extreme beans were also in there, amongst other ingredients.
- Le Bremner’s Bloody Caesar by Danny Smiles: Grey Goose vodka, tobacco cooked oysters (they announced that they were not allowed to use weed sadly, but maybe next year), homemade horseradish ice cubes and chop suey, amongst other ingredients.
- Nectar Bar Design & Mixologie’s Bloody Caesar by Lawrence Picard: Bombay Gin, oysters, sweet chili sauce, sorbet with clam juice and oysters with lemon flakes, amongst other ingredients.
Every chef spoke to the judges, told the audience what was in their unique Caesar and eagerly awaited the results of the competition. Mott’s Clamato was a major sponsor of the event. To be honest, besides champagne, no beverage is more perfect for oysters than Bloody Caesars and we love Mott’s for it.
Of course watching this Caesar competition just made us crave Bloody Caesars. Vegan Vixen loves any vodka based cocktail and Sweet Pea has been downing Bloody Caesars since her and Diva #1 became alcoholics many years ago. The Mott’s booth was generous with the vodka, the celery salt was thickly rimmed and the wonderful little Caesar came with a spicy green bean. The Divas & co. returned many times for more Caesars, especially because Vegan Vixen kept finding drink tickets on the floor, so we could often be seen with two Caesars each, fighting over the spicy green beans. P’tit Frère, the only male in the group, learnt to love Caesars at Oysterfest, especially when coupled with succulent oysters.
It seemed logical to start the festival by eating oysters! La Boîte aux Huitres is the oyster shop in the Jean Talon Market where Diva #1 loves to buy oysters from. The staff is knowledgeable, they always answer questions, and they know how to shuck. For one ticket you could get 2 oysters or for two tickets you could get 5 oysters. The Divas & co. returned to La Boîte aux Huitres many times throughout the day; we just could not satisfy that oyster craving, we just kept wanting more.
Though there was a lot of food to choose from, the Divas had arrived early (for once) and made a mental list of all the booths that we wanted to visit. We started our feasting with the duck confit pâté chinois with maple syrup from Taverne Gaspar. This was the perfect little amuse bouche: the duck confit was plentiful, sweet and the green onions topping the tapas added a nice touch. We had already been to Taverne Gaspar in Old Montreal, and knew to expect delicious food.
As we made our way down the line of restaurant booths we stopped when we saw lobster rolls which go well with oysters and the seafood theme of the day. The lobster roll was with caviar, crab and tempura from L’ Appartement. We have never been to this Old Port restaurant but the roll was delicious, although the bread was a little dry for our taste. A more delicious seafood roll was enjoyed at L’ Orignal, where we had the spicy shrimp roll with lettuce. It was the perfect seafood roll and the amount of shrimp was quite generous. L’ Orignal is the first restaurant that the Divas ever reviewed; we get sentimental just thinking about this fabulous place.
There were so many delicious snacks to choose from. We went to Dolcetto & Co. to eat their lobster croquettes and their shrimp and pancetta arancinis. The lobster croquette was the better of the two topped with scallions and a creamy tartar sauce. You really tasted the lobster in the croquettes which is rare with anything deep fried. The shrimp and pancetta arancini was decent but nothing really stood out from the deep fried rice. This was topped with a marinara sauce and was tasty but could have been skipped over.
The Divas excitedly told P’tit Frère to get the deep fried chicken popcorn from Le Gros Jambon that was topped with their famous maple reduction. The divas have been to the restaurant with Sweet Pea where they enjoyed this crispy maple chicken served on a waffle. You cannot really eat a waffle with chicken and maple while standing up at a festival, but fret not, at Montreal’s Oytserfest, Le Gros Jambon did not skimp out! They served the chicken popcorn in a waffle cone. For one little food coupon this little snack was large and filling.
Rambo swears by Ryu, she is a huge fan! When she saw that they had a booth she ran over and dragged P’tit Frère who loves Japanese cuisine. For one ticket you got two little tapas, one was the Club Ryu which was made up of shrimp and scallop tempura with crab and caviar. The second tapas consisted of two clam tempuras topped with a spicy mayo-based sauce. Both little tapas must have been delicious because sadly the Divas did not get a bite because our gluttonous friends gobbled them down without even glancing at us. Bastards!
The venue was filling up and we were happy to have gotten there early and avoided a lot of the lines. Diva #1 and Sweet Pea returned to Ryu to order their original mojito with all sorts of interesting ingredients such as Japanese mint, other Asian herbs and leaf-like things, sake, a generous amount of rum and blueberries. We were one of the last ones to get this cocktail that was so popular that it was running out quite early in the day.
Diva #2 was instantly intrigued by the large red meat slicer and large hunk of prosciutto being thinly sliced and served with the most decadent looking green olives and breadsticks. The Divas sure like their meat; we waited all day for Bevo’s roasted suckling pig and teared up at the sight of prosciutto being sliced. Even Vegan Vixen looked rather excitedly at the meat, although she “claims” to be disinterested. The Citterio prosciutto was so tender and served along with some of the best green olives that we have ever tasted; we now wish we had gotten their name. The Divas were impressed!
Since Terrasses Bonsecours was hosting the event on their island, they too had a booth with mini cheeseburger sliders, alongside an octopus salad with tomatoes and cubed mango. The mini cheeseburger was on a mini ciabatta bun and though this plate was for two food tickets, it was quite large and filling.
At this point we were running low on food/drink tickets and wondering if we should buy more. At the beginning of the day the Divas had noticed a few very large pots of boiling lobsters in the back of the venue and were eager to return and see what came of this. For three tickets the Divas enjoyed half a lobster with potatoes, corn and garlic butter. The lobster shell was cracked so you did not have to get messy and use your teeth and the Divas and P’tit Frère devoured the whole thing. Another option at this station was to enjoy jumbo shrimp, with the same sides for two food tickets. The shrimp looked delicious and meaty! Later when this booth was closing, Diva #1 and Vegan Vixen scurried back and were given free lobster tails. We were so happy we devoured them quickly, and ran off to find our friends, giggling and happy to have returned to the booth at the right time.
The last booth that we ate at was Imadake. Diva #2 has heard good things about this place which is also on our list. For one ticket you received a very full plate of raw mackerel sashimi, asparagus wrapped in pork belly and fried in a tempura batter and octopus croquettes. The fish was delicious but you must love mackerel because it is a strong tasting fish. The octopus croquettes were topped with a sauce that was finger licking good but the asparagus was a bit of an overkill; it was big and chunky and we did not finish the spear.
Rambo batted her eyelashes and received a free poutine from Java U and bought the infamous Léché Desserts‘ doughnuts. Just the night before Whitey had brought these out-of-this-world-doughnuts to Diva #1’s house and we were happy to see them at the Oysterfest. In Whitey’s own words, “they redefine mouth sex” – yup, we went there.
We were full and ready to watch the oyster shucking competition. There were shuckers from the Old Port Fishing Company, the group at Bremner, Garde Manger and other famous shuckers from Canada. Danny Smiles from Bremner was one of the judges and all the oyster shuckers looked intense with their shucking knife in tow. A few of the oysters were bloody from wounded shuckers and some shuckers even arrived with bandaged hands from past shucking experiences. It was fun to watch and Diva #1 even climbed up on a rock to get a better view!
After the shucking competition, we were craving oysters even more feverishly, so we went back to Boîte aux Huitres for some more and were given a few extras as a freebie. We figure they had seen us return so many times that they started to feel sorry for us and decided to indulge in our love of oysters. We were losing our wonderful day drunk buzz but thankfully Vegan Vixen found a roll of drink tickets on the floor; earlier in the day she had found other tickets, and low and behold she found enough tickets to get all the girls appropriately tipsy. Rambo and P’tit Frère said goodbye and left Vegan Vixen, Sweet Pea and the Divas to their debauchery, which was a mistake.
We soon discovered Nectar & Mixologie, a wonderful bar booth right next to the stage where the shucking competition was taking place. This little booth advertised three drinks, and we had them all and multiple times. We started with a morello cherry mojito that was amazing and the tartness of the cherry went so well with the mint and rum. We also drank their mango mojito but we had been steadily drinking at this point so we don’t remember what it tastes like. Our favourite of the day was the Cointreau by the Sea cocktail that we returned many times for. It was made up of Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, bergamot purée, Perrier and our favourite ingredient, salicornia of Quebec (sea asparagus). The damn sea asparagus greenery was so delicious and tasted so much like the sea that we were soon fighting over each creepy stem. Sweet Pea knew the Flyjin bartender at Nectar & Mixologie who made us multiple drinks and told us that she likes to give it the way she likes to get it, so all the drinks were strong 😉
Because we are Divas and a little insane, as are Vegan Vixen and Sweet Pea, many things soon happened. We ran into many friends throughout the day, and even two guys that we met at Garde Manger the night before. They were memorable because they had accused our entire group of girls as being lesbians. We had seen them around Oysterfest all day but it was only when we had enough liquor in our systems that we decided to find them and confront them. We yelled at them for their accusations from the night before. They called us lesbians again because we were once again in a group of women without any men. We had no legitimacy, so we stayed and drank a bit with them near Mott’s booth; those damn delicious bloody Caesars were just so smooth and spicy. The Montreal Oysterfest after party was at Terrasses Bonsecours but sadly we never made it there. Diva #1 and Vegan Vixen jumped on stage with some other degenerates and danced away, while Diva #2 and Sweet Pea secured a large crate of oysters from a group of guys who were shucking for them.
The was a weird man with his pet lobster on his shoulder throughout the festival, and other odd people, hipsters, stoners, foodies and crazies. We fear that we qualify under foodies and crazies, but who is judging us anyways? Diva #1 and Vegan Vixen danced away and found Sweet Pea and Diva #2 in the front of the venue trailing behind some men who were shucking oysters for them. They are whores for food. Diva #1 was tired of waiting and took a knife shucker and began shucking alongside them. Of course her hand is cut and her shoes smell like seafood but it was all worth it.
Montreal Oysterfest ended for the Divas & co. the way it should, tipsy and pleased after over indulging in more oysters than we could eat. It is rare that you can get full off of oysters; you usually eat just enough to want more but the Divas, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen can say that we walked away from the remaining oysters in the crate because we were just too full. The 5th Annual Montreal Oysterfest was quite a success: it was the Divas’ first year but it will not be our last. We ate well, drank plenty, ran into friends and had some good times. Vegan Vixen certainly helped our buzz by finding so many extra food/drink tickets, and hopefully she will be as diligent next year.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 5th Annual Montreal Oysterfest, Always on Thursdays, Bevo, Bloody Caesar, Boîte aux Huitres, Bremner, Burgundy Lion, Citterio, Clamato, Danny Smiles, Dolcetto & Co., Evenko, Festival, Flyjin, Garde Manger, Gaspar, Gros Jambon, Imadake, Kyo, L’ Appartement, L’ Orignal, Léché Desserts, Lobster, Méchant Boeuf, Montreal, Montreal Event, Montreal Festival, Montreal Oysterfest, Mott’s, Mott’s Clamato, Nectar & Mixologie, Old Montreal, Old Port, Old Port Fishing Company, Open Pier Foundation, Oyster Shucking, oysters, Philemon, Ryu, Shrimp, Shucking, Shucking Competition, Suite 701, Taverne Monkland, Terrasses Bonsecours, Terrasses Bonsecours Island