This past Saturday I was one of the lucky 1,000 people to attend Old Ebbitt Grill’s 13th annual Oyster Riot. The Riot is held the weekend before Thanksgiving on Friday and Saturday nights. The event features over 20 different Oysters from North America paired with prize winning wines from around the world. If you don’t like Oysters this isn’t the event for you, but if your palette is indeed cultured enough you’ll be in oyster heaven.

When Carson and I arrived the party was in full swing. We immediately got our plates and glasses and started tasting. New England Oysters are more “briney” than say Washington State ones. And Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island oysters are almost sweet. They also range in sizes, Washington ones are mini, Martha’s Vineyard ones (below) are pretty big. GO MASS!

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Most of the wines were Sauvignon Blanc’s, though there also was a little bubbly. Our favorite wine was the first place winner from New Zeland and we had just a few glasses… It paired perfectly with all the Oysters, no wonder it was number one. We also got shrimp, crabs legs and some cheese, but they did not compare to the main event.

Near the end of the night we stopped by the booth from Damariscotta River Maine. I took many a canoe trip there during my summer camp days. Hence, we had to try some, and more importantly, we had to take some pictures.

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During the photo shoot we started talking to the awesome shuckers manning the booth, and one of the distributors, Matt, a shellfish extraordinaire. Matt gave us a lesson in Oyster 101. First of all, did you know that oysters are usually at least 8 years old when they reach our plates? It takes them awhile to grow, that’s why over-harveting is a problem. Also, they are ALIVE, one of this only foods we eat while it’s still kicking. Most importantly, most of us (myself included) eat oysters the wrong way! You aren’t supposed to just shove them into your mouth from the shell. It’s more like a sideways french kiss from the top of the oyster. Matt demonstrates below.

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The proper oyster eating method

As the riot was winding down our new friends invited us for a drink at Old Ebbitt’s bar. Art, the man behind a bunch of the oysters, wanted to give us one of his company t-shirts. They were in the van on the loading dock. So, somehow from there we took a detour into Old Ebbitt’s kitchen and down to the dock. The place was huge, we totally stepped into a page of Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidentialand I can assure you, the place was clean and well run. I knew Ebbitt was good! We even met the executive chef, Robert McGowan. Props to him for running that mammouth place!

Post loading dock we went to the bar and posed with all our friends in the food business. Oysters are serious, you don’t mess when distributing them, and you also don’t mess when it’s your Oysters that are featured at the riot. Pretty cool. There was a lot to celebrate.

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Art, Matt, Paul, Charlotte, Carson and friends!

We ended the night with some more shellfish at Brasserie Beck, mussels this time, and of course frites. I needed some carbs after all those shellfish. I didn’t keep a tally, but I’d say all in all I ate about 25, maybe 26 oysters. DELISH! I recommend the riot to anyone and everyone who likes oysters, and if you don’t, you should probably learn to like them ASAP, you’re missing out!

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