Where does your food come from? If you take a moment to consider the time, energy and work needed to turn a grain of wheat into the bread on your table, it is truly amazing. As a lover of shellfish who lives in the heart of the continent, the journey these little sea creatures take has always blown my mind.
Oysters may be an acquired taste but those that love them can’t get enough. In Winnipeg there are a number of restaurants being supplied by a little oyster farm called CN Shellfish on Fanny Bay in British Columbia. Available at Wasabi in Osborne Village, Inferno’s Bistro, The Loft, the Fort Garry, and Fairmont Hotel, it takes a mere day and a half from the BC farm to your Winnipeg table. These are very fresh oysters!
This 35 million dollar industry supplies Canadians and sends tons of shipments to Asia. These farms generate some of the highest quality and most sought after shellfish in the world. Regulations governing their production ensure the highest quality and the highest prices.
In the hierarchy of shellfish King Crab reigns supreme. But not far behind are Geoducks – totally bizarre creatures. These guys sell for $20-$30 a pound and they are so popular in Asia we rarely see them in the Canadian market. They can grow up to 140 years old!
Shellfish has one of the few licenses for growing Geoducks and as proud members of Ocean Wise, they constantly strive to do things as naturally as possible. CN Shellfish has been in business for 3 years but its history runs deep. Nam Lao and Cory Hesketh own the farm and Hesketh’s father ran the farm before them. With oysters and clams all growing on their farm, it is a busy place.
Merroir, a take on the French word Terroir, is used to describe the flavours and qualities of a region and products farmed there. Co-opted from vintners, chocolatiers and coffee producers, oyster farmers have taken it as their own.
On the farm I had the chance to taste oysters that are aged on the beach against those matured on the rafts. It’s amazing how different they taste. East Coast oysters tend to have a lighter taste as they grow slower because of the colder water. On the West Coast they have more salt and brine in the flavour profile.
The next time you crack oysters open remember how far they’ve come to be slurped up off your plate!