Something to add to your culinary bucket list ! Attention Oyster Lovers ! Have you ever had a Bluff Oyster ?
I have been to New Zealand numerous times, but it was during my last trip a month ago, that I finally got to try the famous ‘Bluff Oyster’. Previous visits weren’t from lack of trying, once in Queenstown it was like catching an elusive butterfly, every place I went to, had JUST sold out. On other visits they weren’t in season. I was intrigued more than anything to find out what the fuss was all about. I’d eaten some pretty spectacular oysters in Australia, so how different could they be ?
So firstly, to whet your appetite on what makes these little babies so special…
They are grown in the cold clear waters in the Fouveaux Strait, which is located in the stretch of water between Stewart Island and the tip of the southern most part of South Island of NZ . [FYI -Stewart Island is the third largest island in NZ, but is regularly left off when you see a map of NZ]. Anyway, I digress, the point here to note is that it is really really really cold down there, and really really clean [of pollution]. This makes for a very special environment from which the oyster grows.
The oyster grows wild and is harvested between March and August. The area suffered a disease about 7 years ago which signficantly effected the oyster beds – killing off approx 2 billion oysters! They have slowly been recovering and reports this year are saying that 2010 is a cracker and that the oysters have been at their best yet [quality and quantity] !
At this years Bluff Oyster Festival held on 22 May, over 20,000 oysters were consumed. That is a lot of oyster in just one day. In fact I wonder what effect the Bluff Oyster Festival has on the population growth of NZ … note to self to check out impact to birth rates in nine months !
They are expensive little things. A dozen bluff oysters served at restaurants appeared to cost anywhere from $25 – $50 NZD. In fact, theft of ‘Bluff Oysters’ is seems to be a major problem, with one supermarket in Queenstown issuing tickets to customers in an attempt to deter the visiting backpackers stealing around $250,000 worth of stock. Read Article.
So do these ‘Bluff Oysters’ stack up as the best in the world ??
Well, given my experience to oyster eating is only in Australia I’m probably not the best judge. That said, I have eaten a lot of oysters in my life and have been lucky enough on many occasions to quaff dozens of them direct from the oyster farmer, shucked on site at famous oyster locations like Nambucca Heads, Nowra, Batemans Bay, Merimbula, Tweed Heads and the Hastings River. I have also eaten numerous other varieties in restaurants across the country, including a particularly sensational dozen in Byron Bay topped with lime juice and pickled ginger.
And yes, I have to tell you in all honesty, that the ‘Bluff Oysters’ I had were some of the best oysters I have ever eaten in my life. They were meaty, without being too chewy. They were silky and smooth but with the most clean, pure fresh taste I’ve ever had. I can’t even begin to imagine what they must taste like eaten direct from the fisherman down in the South Island.
Truly food of the Gods.