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Tofino and Oysters a Perfect Combo

It's fall in Tofino. The air is crisp, the storm clouds are building and the town is gearing up for its 10th annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival.

Even though the town suffered a drought this summer, it had no effect on the deep-sea delicacies that drift on tethered lines dropped 35 metres in the clean, cold waters of the surrounding bays.

What may look to some people like a barnacle-encrusted shell hosting a slimy aquatic blob, is actually a heart-smart, protein-packed carbo loader full of all the nutrients you need, without the fat. If that's not enough to convert you, there's the lore of the bivalves' aphrodisiac properties. It's full of zinc, which is good for male fertility and the libido of both sexes.

Each November, when the summer crowds have dispersed, local chefs shuck a pile of oysters and create new and exquisite recipes to excite the palates making the trek across Vancouver Island. Combining the fresh menus at the restaurants with beach combing or storm watching, November is a perfect time to visit Tofino.

SoBo, the big purple bus known for serving up fine cuisine, is permanently parked at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. But culinary wizards Lisa and Artie Ahier serve their lengthy lineups of customers in the airy building over the winter months.

Their standard oyster fare is mouth-watering. Award-winning recipes include cornmeal-crusted and smoked oysters on a fresh chip with jicama slaw. But, this Oysterfest, Lisa has created something that might just take the peoples' choice award again.

"This year I'm serving a hemp seed-crusted oyster with a tequila cayenne sauce."

The festival runs from Nov. 17 to 19, with live music, cookouts, theme nights and dining delights planned around the king of the sea -- the Pacific oyster (Cassostrea gigas).

On Nov. 16, marine biologists from the Rainforest Education Society will offer entertaining pre-festival talks about the oyster and its nutritional qualities.

Remote Passages Marine Excursions offers a boat tour to oyster farms in Lemmens Inlet. It's an interesting visit demonstrating how the 25 regional growers are set to harvest an annual 227,000 litres of the world's finest Pacific oysters from the Tofino-Clayoquot region.

If rolling around the waves isn't what you'd like, Friday night there's the Mermaids Ball in town or the elegant For the Love of Oysters cocktail party at Long Beach Lodge Resort. Fine wines from B.C. will be paired with oyster and seafood dishes.

A special dinner the following night features the resort's chef Rob Wheaton and chef Tim May, of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, combining their talents to present Two Chefs and a Pearl of an Oyster Dinner.

Also on Saturday is the Oyster Gala. Tickets are hard to come by for the event because Tofino chefs rise to the occasion and cook up a feast of oysters like you've never seen. And it's not complete without a slurping contest.

Even though oysters alone have less than 100 calories, there are plenty of rich sauces and side dishes that demand to be walked off on a beach.

Long Beach, one of Canada's ultimate shorelines, is only minutes out of town. If the seasonal storms promised every 72 hours arrive on cue, you can skip the walk and watch the waves from the expansive windows at Long Beach Lodge or the soaker tubs in almost every room at the Wickaninnish Inn.

Both resorts are wheelchair accessible and superbly dog-friendly. The Long Beach Lodge Resort anticipates the onslaught of oyster aficionados and is preparing its annual Oyster Bed package. A two-night stay is offered through November, starting at $279 per room per night, including dinner for two. No word on how many oysters it includes.

If you go …

To find out more about the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, see tourismtofino.com or oystergala.com.
Great beachside accommodations in Tofino include Long Beach Lodge Resort (longbeachlodgeresort.com) and The Wickaninnish Inn (wickinn.com).
Craig Air (craigair.com) flies from Vancouver or Victoria, in itself a spectacular ride.
Caption Under Picture of Pointe

Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn is a perfect place to watch winter storms roll in; expect delicious oyster dishes from the SoBo bus in Tofino (right).

It's fall in Tofino. The air is crisp, the storm clouds are building and the town is gearing up for its 10th annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival.

Even though the town suffered a drought this summer, it had no effect on the deep-sea delicacies that drift on tethered lines dropped 35 metres in the clean, cold waters of the surrounding bays.

What may look to some people like a barnacle-encrusted shell hosting a slimy aquatic blob, is actually a heart-smart, protein-packed carbo loader full of all the nutrients you need, without the fat. If that's not enough to convert you, there's the lore of the bivalves' aphrodisiac properties. It's full of zinc, which is good for male fertility and the libido of both sexes.

Each November, when the summer crowds have dispersed, local chefs shuck a pile of oysters and create new and exquisite recipes to excite the palates making the trek across Vancouver Island. Combining the fresh menus at the restaurants with beach combing or storm watching, November is a perfect time to visit Tofino.

SoBo, the big purple bus known for serving up fine cuisine, is permanently parked at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. But culinary wizards Lisa and Artie Ahier serve their lengthy lineups of customers in the airy building over the winter months.

Their standard oyster fare is mouth-watering. Award-winning recipes include cornmeal-crusted and smoked oysters on a fresh chip with jicama slaw. But, this Oysterfest, Lisa has created something that might just take the peoples' choice award again.

"This year I'm serving a hemp seed-crusted oyster with a tequila cayenne sauce."

The festival runs from Nov. 17 to 19, with live music, cookouts, theme nights and dining delights planned around the king of the sea -- the Pacific oyster (Cassostrea gigas).

On Nov. 16, marine biologists from the Rainforest Education Society will offer entertaining pre-festival talks about the oyster and its nutritional qualities.

Remote Passages Marine Excursions offers a boat tour to oyster farms in Lemmens Inlet. It's an interesting visit demonstrating how the 25 regional growers are set to harvest an annual 227,000 litres of the world's finest Pacific oysters from the Tofino-Clayoquot region.

If rolling around the waves isn't what you'd like, Friday night there's the Mermaids Ball in town or the elegant For the Love of Oysters cocktail party at Long Beach Lodge Resort. Fine wines from B.C. will be paired with oyster and seafood dishes.

A special dinner the following night features the resort's chef Rob Wheaton and chef Tim May, of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, combining their talents to present Two Chefs and a Pearl of an Oyster Dinner.

Also on Saturday is the Oyster Gala. Tickets are hard to come by for the event because Tofino chefs rise to the occasion and cook up a feast of oysters like you've never seen. And it's not complete without a slurping contest.

Even though oysters alone have less than 100 calories, there are plenty of rich sauces and side dishes that demand to be walked off on a beach.

Long Beach, one of Canada's ultimate shorelines, is only minutes out of town. If the seasonal storms promised every 72 hours arrive on cue, you can skip the walk and watch the waves from the expansive windows at Long Beach Lodge or the soaker tubs in almost every room at the Wickaninnish Inn.

Both resorts are wheelchair accessible and superbly dog-friendly. The Long Beach Lodge Resort anticipates the onslaught of oyster aficionados and is preparing its annual Oyster Bed package. A two-night stay is offered through November, starting at $279 per room per night, including dinner for two. No word on how many oysters it includes.

If you go …

To find out more about the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, see tourismtofino.com or oystergala.com.
Great beachside accommodations in Tofino include Long Beach Lodge Resort (longbeachlodgeresort.com) and The Wickaninnish Inn (wickinn.com).
Craig Air (craigair.com) flies from Vancouver or Victoria, in itself a spectacular ride.

Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn is a perfect place to watch winter storms roll in; expect delicious oyster dishes from the SoBo bus in Tofino.

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