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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday's Oysterfest Looks to Ireland ― Except When It Doesn't

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Some 13,000 people showed up last year to wreak havoc like this. - MADHU.PRABAKER/FLICKR
  • madhu.prabaker/Flickr
  • Some 13,000 people showed up last year to wreak havoc like this.
Maybe Oysterfest 2010 will inevitably prove a drunken slog through a litter of oyster shells, to a live Cake soundtrack. But that's not how it has to be, says Fiachra O'Shaughnessy of O'Reilly's Pub in North Beach, one of the organizers of the 11th annual event (SF Weekly is a co-sponsor).

"Basically, the premise was the combination of raw oysters with stouts," O'Shaughnessy says ― it's the very focus of the Galway Oyster Festival in Ireland. But what would a sprawling American food and music event be without deep-fryers and BBQ sauce? Expect deep-fried oysters, barbecued oysters, and festival food that'll have more in common with, say, Folsom Street than Galway: hot dogs, empanadas, tri-tip sandwiches.

Drakes Bay Oyster Farm will be the biggest supplier of the 65,000 oysters O'Shaughnessy reckons will be slurped Saturday in one form or another, though some will come from Oregon and Washington, even a few from Hog Island ― eight varieties in all. A mini oyster expo will demonstrate how the bivalves grow.

One thing Oysterfest will have in common with its Galway mentor is beer from Guinness, a sponsor. But there'll be Aussie wines from Deakin Estate, and a bar full of hard liquors ― no doubt a few vodka tonics will ease the gag reflex for contestants in the shuck and swallow contest (last year's winner slurped 124 just-opened oysters in 7 minutes). And for $20, you can attend a booze-pairing tutorial that'll demonstrate the Guinness beers, Deakin wines, even Scotch.

Now what was that about a drunken slog?

Event details:

11th Annual San Francisco Oysterfest

Date: Sat., May 15, 11 a.m.

Location: The Great Meadow at Fort Mason, Laguna and Bay Streets

Cost: $30; kids under 14 free

Tickets: Buy online

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