Yesterday was the FIRST ANNUAL Halifax Oyster Festival (at Daytona Beach).
The purpose was to raise funds to preserve the oyster beds. Lofty goal, so we filled up the tank and headed out.
Fighting miserable traffic all the way, we finally found ourselves at the spot on A 1 A. :9: Parking was a free for all, but we managed to find a place. A little surprised that there were no parking fees (as we were parking on a grassy area with many, many, many (hint) other cars) nor were there any sort of signs or traffic control.
We walked to the entrance of the festival, where the tickets were being sold. You had to purchase $5 worth to gain entry, cheap enough, eh? Plus, of course all food and drink was sold using the tickets, so we bought some extras. Not sure what we were getting into, or what to expect (it was the FIRST ANNUAL after all :D ) we bought (thank heaven) a total of $20 worth.
The festival was held on a little tiny island that is reached by walking across a foot bridge. The island was right on the intercoastal and the very best part of the day was watching the dolphins play and the pelicans flying and diving (Herself's favorite water bird). (Another hint).
We were met with a very long line as we entered and turned left... not sure what the very long line was for we continued on...
Well! It was for the steamed or raw oysters. Yep. ONE booth/tent serving steamed or raw oysters. There were without exaggeration easily one hundred or more people in line... we walked on.
There was a hot dog cart, and another little booth that was selling oyster rolls and fried oysters, along with parmesan oysters and crab dip. The line wasn't quite as long as the other, so we placed ourselves at the end. And waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. After an hour (yes, I'm not kidding) the generator went down, so the small (as in four cups of oil) fryers (whooohoooo there were three) were without power. We waited a few minutes longer and finally gave up.
We walked a bit further... here is a line that is moving...we joined it. We waited and waited and waited throughout times when it stopped moving... and began again... we finally get to the booth itself and of course they are out of oysters. We are both (seriously!) faint with hunger by now so we traded tickets for mussels and a pulled beef ( ) sandwich.
Finding a table was as challenging. All, of course were taken, including one where there were two people (at a 10 person table) who had tipped all the chairs forward so we stood at the corner of another table that wasn't full.
There was another booth with shrimp... ummmm, no thanks we did come for oysters, and another booth with shrimp and oyster stew (but they were out) and a couple of beer booths, the draft was out, so the choice was Budweiser or Mich Ultra ( ).
No vendors but for one who was selling strange bits of glass...
Needless to say, after a three hour investment and no oysters we left.
What did we do? Headed north to Ormond Beach as there is a very nice (fairly new) restaurant there that sells oysters. (Now, here's an insider tip. That little booth that lost power, with the toy cookers? Yep. They were from the restaurant that we were headed to).
We get to the restaurant, get seated and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait... (I finally give up and go to the restroom) when a server from another area comes along to take drink orders from Herself. Seizing the opportunity, Herself gives the server our complete order.
They are out of oysters.
We head home. Enough is enough of this coastal fun...
Herself remembers that there is this tiny little restaurant that she passes daily on her way to work. They've hung out a "whole belly clams" sign a few weeks ago. Great! Let's try it.
It is a TINY restaurant, but cleaner than clean, and very fresh smelling (important if you expect me to eat fish in your establishment, eh?).
The server comes to the table (it's one of those chalk board places) and pointing to the board he tells us that the FRIED OYSTERS are not on the menu but they have them.
We tell him our tale of searching for oysters and he laughs with us and tells the owner/chef who joins in.
Their oysters are divine. :D :D So are their fried crab sandwich and their fish and chips (choice of fish, we chose cod).
So, all that to find the best little seafood place is in our own backyard! LOLOL.
Not so sure we'll head to the SECOND ANNUAL oyster festival, but it was surely an adventure.