Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shuck, Slurp, Gulp - Maryland Oyster Festival

For the past 42 years, St. Mary's County has been home to the Maryland Oyster Festival where the "national oyster shucking" champion is crowned, hundreds (thousands?) of these tasty bivalves are gulped, and the national oyster cook-off draws in crowds.

We ventured out to Leonardtown this year to try it out! We've been to the delicious Fells Point Oyster Festival in past years, but never to the Maryland Oyster Festival. Loaded up with caffeine, we drove the two hours there - it was a beautiful day for a fall festival. When we arrived, the festival was already in full swing. We beelined to the food - it was lunchtime and we were starving. But where to begin...? Stands upon stands of food were set up ... from the curious (crab stuffed pretzels!) to the divine (grilled oysters with garlic and butter), from the body warming (hot apple cider) to the...again body warming (the Guinness truck with the beer spouts). Food paradise. By the end of our lunch rush, we had tried: deep fried oysters (very tasty), oyster stew (a little bit too watery), oyster sandwich (mmm fried oysters on a roll!), and my favorite, the grilled oysters with garlic and butter.

The oyster festival has a little bit for everyone. Not a fan of oysters? No problem -- the oyster festival is a mix of a food festival and a fun county fair. There are carnival rides (not recommended after eating oysters), local crafts, and live music.

I was sadly full before I could indulge in all the treats I wanted. The crab stuffed pretzels, the funnel cake, the barbeque beef sandwich, and crab soup will have to wait til next year.

OH! And before I forget, the WINE TASTING. I hadn't expected a wine tasting booth at the Oyster Festival but the Solomon Island Winery was set up with about 12 different wines to taste! For only $3, you could sample 6 wines. We sampled both the "island mist" wines (fruity) and the premium wines... We really only intended to sample, but came home with two bottles for future tastings! I loved their Blueberry Pinot Noir and my oyster loving companion fell for their Green Apple Riesling. Yes, yes, they are quite sweet, but perfect for a summer's day.

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