Sunday, 27 July 2008

Whitstable Oyster Festival

I may have mentioned it before, but I love oysters. When I heard about Whitstable Oyster Festival, I thought it must be perfect. Happily enough, it fell on the weekend after payday, so off we went to Whitstable.

A 2 hour train ride later, we arrived. The weather was balmy, although over-cast which was probably a good thing, to fend off the sun burn. We started off at Wheelers Oyster Bar on the high street, and sunk a half dozen oysters for a paltry £2.50. Large, juicy tiger prawns with garlic mayonnaise completed our breakfast, and with this we headed off to find some refreshment.

I love being by the sea, and Whitstable is a charming town. A busy and bustling town centre with plenty of cafes, restaurants and the ubiquitous Boots. The sea front was much calmer with some little beach huts, holiday homes and a pub or two.

We moved on to find the main part of the Oyster Festival. So far we had only seen the Fisherie selling half lobsters and oysters, and we were wondering whether this was it. A short stroll down to the Harbour revealed much more. Lots of stalls selling cheeses, olives, cakes and biscuits, even curry and of course, oysters.

The queues for the oysters were long. I mean, LONG. There were two stalls selling freshly shucked oysters and these were by far the most popular. We obediently joined. About half an hour and a half of super strength cider later, we slurred our way to the front. Nothing like a bit of binge-drinking on a Saturday afternoon.

A jug of Pimms later, the proper hunger set in and we set off to find some real sustenance. We found ourselves back at Wheelers, this time with a couple of dressed crabs to hand. The sun decided to make a proper appearance and the rest of the afternoon was spent watching all the crazies (the water was freezing - the toe I dipped in nearly fell off) swimming in the sea.

I recommend taking the trip down there during the Oyster Festival. There were various activities to do and watch, like the Oyster Eating Competition, and some kiddy workshops. They had BBC filming a food show, it looked like a segment of Saturday Kitchen but we were just happy to potter around and slurp down seafood.

7 comments:

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

I love Whitstable, it's one of my favourite places. I always have a Wheelers sandwich on the beach for lunch and then an afternoon snack from one of the places selling barbecued fish at the harbour. I haven't been yet this summer but am lokking forward to heading down there at some point.

gastroplod said...

Oyster Festival or no, Whitstable is a wonderful place to go for seafood on a sunny weekend - I'm glad you had a good time despite the queues!! - and Wheelers is the greatest smallest best value seafood joint ever, but do they have Green Tabasco yet, or should I bring my own?

Beth said...

Sounds like you had a gorgeous day and all the better for the jug of Pimms I bet!! Its a bit too far for me (I live in Cornwall) maybe next year!!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I. AM. JEALOUS. End of.

Well, not quite. Looks like you had a great time. I must put a note in my diary for next year, and get myself organised to get along there..

ros said...

I need to read more. I never find out about this stuff until after it has happened.

Neil said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your day in Whitstable, and I'd agree that Wheelers is one of the very finest places for seafood. As someone who lives in the town, it's always enjoyable to see others from outside can appreciate the little charms in their own way. I'm currently in the process of uploading several hundred images of the Oyster Festival 2008 - including pictures of all who took part in the Oyster Eating contest - and I hope it's okay to leave a link: http://www.inct5.co.uk/gallery

Chris said...

Looks fantastic. I'm going to try and get there next year myself, and maybe pair it with lunch at the Sportsman...