What could be better than spending a beautiful mild Autumn weekend by the Cornish coast.
Not much you might think.
Add to the mix fresh local seafood, shellfish, molluscs, ale and sea shanties and you may well have just described the Oyster Festival that took place in Falmouth this weekend.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary and the start of the Oyster dredging season, the festival focuses very much on the traditional methods of sail powered, hand-pulled Oyster dredging that is still very popular in the area.
The Oyster boats, known as Falmouth Working Boats built around the Fal estuary some as far back as 1860, work the only Oyster fishery left in Europe and use the tides, wind, the skill and local knowledge of their fishermen to dredge the waters by sail and hand punt.
The four-day festival is one of the town’s most popular events attracting somewhere in the region of 40,000 visitors, many of which are there to sample the mouth-watering array of local Oysters, shellfish, ale and wine on offer.
Oyster shucking by the adults and Oyster shell painting by the children was pretty much the order of the day and it was so nice to while away the hours in such a relaxed, friendly, foodie-fuelled environment.
Cookery master-classes from celebrity chefs, live music from local talent, sea shanties, a town parade and marquees packed to the rafters with Cornish produce. A real celebration of the humble Oyster. Once the working man’s food, now somewhat of a delicacy and a great excuse for a real Cornish knees-up.
Whether you like your juicy plump Oysters served Kilpatrick style with bacon and Worcestershire sauce. Rockefeller style with Pastis, cream, spinach and nutmeg. Tempuraed with chilli dipping sauce, or just au naturel drizzled with some fresh lemon juice, the choice and quality of Cornish molluscs available was simply outstanding.
It was with a heavy but happy heart that we watched the sun set over the bay marking the end of this year’s festival, but we look forward to returning to the lovely town of Falmouth in October 2017, when we can do it all again.
Lemon cut into wedges
For the Kilpatrick Sauce
1 tsp olive oil
4 rashers of thick streaky bacon cut into lardons
Knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Tomato Sauce
3 to 4 drops of Tabasco Sauce
Pre-heat the grill to high.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan and cook the bacon for two minutes each side until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on kitchen paper.
Melt the butter in the same pan and fry the shallot until soft, stirring regularly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in all of the sauces until well combined.
Shuck the Oysters and return, with any juices, to the deeper shells. Place on a small baking tray and spoon over some of the sauce and add the lardons.
Grill the Oysters for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until cooked and sizzling.
Serve with lemon wedges and a cheeky glass of fizz.
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