Posts tagged Oyster Festival

The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival

Anytime my honey and I can get away for a weekend I jump at the chance. Especially when we can drive three hours or less to our destination from Grants Pass, Oregon. Last Friday we did just that. After work we headed to my Uncle Steve’s house in near McKinleyville, California. Our plan was to attend The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival. The festival is going on 18 years and highlights local chefs, restaurants and caterers. Their goal is to win the judges approval for best Oysters. The publics goal is to eat, drink and be merry. Or to win Oyster Shucker and/or Oyster Sucker of the year. I am not a fan of Oysters but I knew we’d have fun no matter what we did.

Arcata Plaza

We took off early evening and planned on eating dinner somewhere along the way. Whenever I’m near the ocean my desire to eat fish and chowder becomes overwhelming. My Uncle had told us about a restaurant in Crescent City, California that had great fish and chips. I can not think of one restaurant in Crescent City that has decent food, but I trusted him on this one. The place, Chart Room, located on Anchor Way at the marina near the one and only surf shop in the city. As we drove up I saw that people were standing inside the door. Not a good sign for us as we wanted to eat and run, but a good sign that the food must be partially decent at the least. I ran in and asked the waitress how long the wait was and it was too long for us, plus they were closing in 30 minutes. It did smell good in there but also looked frantic.

Plan B. There is another restaurant about one minute away named The Grotto. I had eaten there years ago and it was fair so we decided to give it a try. We arrived at 7:40 pm. The place only had two other tables occupied. The hostess was just writing the nights special on the board. I thought that a bit odd that she put it up so late. The menu was very pricy for what I had wanted. Small Fish and Chips for $11.95. Large order was $13.95. I ordered the small plate with a cup of clam chowder. Hubby ordered scallops, baked potato and a salad. The menu noted that all fish came breaded, battered or grilled. Sautéed was and extra $1.00. OK this is another oddity. Why charge more for sautéed? Unfortunately my honey did not notice this and the waiter did not ask him.

As we waited for our food, the restaurant filled to capacity. We were shocked. All we could think of was that when the Chart House closed, everyone came to the Grotto. The place turned into a zoo.

Dinner arrived. First bummer was the scallops. Hubby wanted sautéed scallops and got breaded. The scallops were soggy. Frozen scallops always hold a lot of water. He was not happy with that potato either. It tasted like it sat in the baker all day long. The mealy waxy texture is a turn off. My plate was equally unappetizing. The chowder had an odd flavor to it. Some sort of herb or seasoning that I could not put my finger. My small fish and chips order was actually very large. Four pieces of fish, a large pile of fries and a small scoop of overly boiled mixed veggies. What, no coleslaw??? . Also on the plate was about one tablespoon of tarter sauce and about two tablespoons of cocktail sauce. I normally do not see cocktail sauce for fish and chips. I took the veggies off my plate immediately. The water from the veggies was making the fish soggy. The fish was battered, though not a beer batter. It was fair but again soggy. The fries were as okay as can be. I had to ask for extra tarter sauce and waiter came out in a huge cup of the stuff, so much so that it was wasted. This will be the last time we eat at the Grotto.

Saturday morning we were up and at ‘em. We decided to hit the festival early at the suggestion of Uncle Steve. He said the crowds got large and rowdy around noon. We meet his lovely adorable girlfriend at the festival and headed off to the first tent. The festival is held at the Arcata Plaza. I have always loved this little college town. There are shops and restaurants built around a square quaint park. The festival is held around the park. The center of the park had a stage and music. There must have been over a hundred vendors. Mostly food and about four local microbrew and wine tents. The first Oyster we tried was barbequed with a light cucumber salsa. I must admit the salsa was great; the Oyster was just ok for me. Off to the next tent. Fried Oysters with hot sauce. I tried just one and decided that was enough Oyster tasting for me. Hubby, Uncle and his girlfriend loved them. I could tell they were in heaven. Next we tried the taco tent. The three had Oyster tacos. I had a steak taco. This was delish! Grilled steak topped with a spicy coleslaw mixture, salsa and lime in a corn tortilla. Next hubby got three barbequed Oysters with garlic, sherry and herbs topped with salmon tartar. As I watched the three devour those, I noticed a couple people with ears of barbequed corn. OH YEAH! That’s more my speed. This was our next stop…but wait, Uncle Steve found a booth that had Oyster Pierogi’s. These came with sautéed onions. While they ate those I ordered Cheese Pierogi’s. Also with sautéed onions and a side of sour cream. These were very nice. Whilst I was eating those, hubby found a stand that sold kabobs. Are we EVER getting to that corn? He got a chicken kabob that we all tried and agreed was very good and thought to come back for more. Off to find that corn. Yea! We ordered three ears. Boy was that corn good. White corn barbequed in the husks and slathered with butter, salt and pepper. I was in heaven.

As we meandered around the plaza more Oysters were consumed and the square was filling up fast. I lost track of all the Oysters they tried. Somewhere along the way they all tried an Oyster Shooter with roe. Double yuck. I heard moans of joy from the three. We found one of the stands we were looking for that sold Fish Tacos. Oh my, these were good. Nicely battered pieces of white fish, cabbage, salsa, a spicy sour cream sauce, cilantro and lime. Delectable! At this point we decided to find a spot in the park and watch the Oyster calling contest. This was divided into ages from three up. There were some pretty adorable kids and some very drunk and funny adults. The kids pretty much yelled out remarks such as “HELLO OYSTERS!” The adults had poems and songs and even a rap or two. One song was titled “Oysters over troubled Waters” and one was “We don’t Shuck our Oysters in Arcata”. All in all, pretty hilarious. Full of Oysters and wall to wall people we decided to head for home. Sadly no pictures were taken by any of us. Hard to hold a camera, a drink and a plate of Oysters at a crowded festival.

Winners of this years best of Oysters;

Best Oyster according to the judges:
-1st Tomo’s Oyster Sushi
-2nd Tomo’s Oyster Shooter
-3rd Folie Douce Japanese grilled oysters
The people’s choice:
Curly’s Grill

Shuck and Chuck 2008 champions:
Shucker: Aidan Semingson
Sucker: Conor Eckholm

Back at the house the three were barely awake. I was in the mood for more fun and I was actually a bit hungry as I hadn’t consumed as much as they had. After a rest we decided a walk on the beach would perk them up. We drove up the coast to Triniad. The beach was beautiful but extremely windy and chilly, so much so we didn’t walk very far. Trinidad is a beautiful little fishing town. Most of it sits on a bluff above a gorgeous inlet were the water is blue green. There are fishing boats moored in the inlet that are only accessible by smaller boats or dingies. The pier has cranes attached that lower and raise boats from the water for repair. This is a must stop place for any traveler.

Wind blown and hungry, we headed off to dinner. We decided more barbeque was in order. We headed off to Porter Street Barbeque. Porter’s is nothing fancy, but has some of the best bbq I have had in the Pacific Northwest. There is a large bbq pit outside that they load with meat every morning. The menu is small and no nonsense. BBQ chicken, pork or beef. Homemade sides and the BEST clam chowder I have ever eaten. Made with red potatoes, tender clams and seasoned perfectly.
Three of us had the BBQ chicken sandwich. This came shredded in big chunks, smothered with bbq sauce on toasted garlic bread. They have a fixins’ bar for your sandwiches. Hot peppers, horseradish, salsas, peperoncinis and more. Also a big bucket of warmed barbeque sauce in case you needed more on your meat which of course I did. That was one fine sauce, slightly spicy, thick and dark red. Hubby had beef ribs. They looked good but messy. His came with a side of slaw and chili. That chili was great! Lots of beef to beans and spiced just right.

Porter Street Barbeque
665 Samoa Blvd
Arcata, CA 95521

We decided to continue our gluttonous journey and head for Bon Boniere. An ice cream and bakery establishment located back at the Arcata Square. Homemade ice cream is pretty hard to pass up. I had a scoop of chocolate orange chip and a scoop of mint cookie. Very creamy and refreshing. I think that did it. I was done and ready to fall into a coma of happiness.

Bon Boniere
791 8th Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Sunday, Uncle Steve suggested that he and his sweetheart follow us back to Crescent City, about an hours drive north to have lunch at the Chart Room. What a great idea. I would have my fish and chip fix after all. The Chart Room is nothing fancy but boy is it good. The clam chowder was excellent. We had the Samll order of a Seafood combo with fish, scallops and prawns beer battered with lots of tarter and cocktail sauce, crispy fries, coleslaw and garlic toast for $9.95. The fish was hot and crispy good and a great ending to a wonderful happy weekend!

Chart Room Marina & Restaurant
130 Anchor Way
Crescent City, CA 95531


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