City Bites

FOOD BUZZ: Whalesbone’s 5th Annual Bytowne Oysterfest June 24, noon – 11pm

If you want to see what Ottawa looks like when she lets down her hair, mark your calendars for June 24.

Ottawa, the city that fun forgot? You can bet whoever uttered this famous phrase has never been to Oysterfest.

I can still remember bringing my then one-year-old daughter to the first Oysterfest in 2007 and watching her shake her diaper-butt to Rockabilly music with a posse of hipster offspring while the grown-ups in ironic T-shirts and ripped jeans slurped oysters and cold beer.

The memory is seared in my mind. I looked around at this parking lot, at all of these rowdy and relaxed revelers — more oysters and tattoos and piercings than I’d ever seen in one place since moving to Ottawa — and thinking: who are these people? As it turns out, a good number of them are the hard-working line-cooks, pastry chefs and dishwashers who toil away under fluorescent lights of restaurant kitchens around town. Oysterfest has become the ultimate staff party for the foot soldiers of our food industry. But everyone is welcome.

It’s quite a party (think: fire breathers and arm wrestling competitions). An intimate group of roughly 800 people are expected to show up; some years there are more, some years less. Tickets are $25; kids 12 years old and under are free. There will be clowns painting faces and animal balloon-art making. For bigger kids there’s the oyster shucking competitions — one for pros and the Chef’s Cup.

You can buy tickets in advance at either Whalesbone location or get them at the door. Admission to the festival includes 4 oysters or choice of a  Walleye burgers, tandoori salmon wrap, pulled pork, or vegetarian samosas. There will be plenty of Kichesippi & Beau’s beer, sangria, and Sailor Jerrys for the bar as well as pop, juice, and Freezies.

Check out the poster for details on the music lineup. See you there!