Oyster Tasting on Nov. 12 will teach you how to truly savor this local delicacy

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Nov 02, 2011 - 04:30 PM

Photo: Jackie Partin, a founder of TOGA, hopes ticket holders will learn the joys of oyster growing and eating at the Virginia Half-Shell Oyster Tasting on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Jackie Partin, a founder of TOGA, hopes ticket holders will learn the joys of oyster growing and eating at the Virginia Half-Shell Oyster Tasting on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Photo: Oysters on the half shell

Oysters on the half shell

Get your taste buds ready for the upcoming Virginia Half-Shell Oyster Tasting to be held Saturday, Nov. 12, from 1 to 4 p. m. at Kelsick Specialty Market on Main Street, Gloucester.

Sponsored by the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association (TOGA) , this event will feature oysters from waters surrounding the Middle Peninsula. Ticket holders (tickets are limited to 200 and will not be sold at the door) will have the opportunity to taste four oysters from each of six vendors and then award points.

Perhaps if you attended last year’s event you learned all about how to taste an oyster. For those who have never had the experience of tasting and grading them, this group has made it easy for you. On the front of your score card are the directions, which read in part: "To really savor the flavor of the oyster you should eat it ‘naked’… Oyster tasting is a lot like wine tasting. Begin by experiencing the aroma before you put it in your mouth. It is recommended that you chew your oyster a little bit and aerate (take in a little air) to allow the flavors to cross the palate and develop fully. Don’t just slurp it down. The first taste is the saltiness. As you chew you might pick up a savory taste similar to but lighter than chicken stock. The food world calls it umami. Then as you finish and swallow, you may notice a lingering pleasant minerality (think Perrier) and a light nice astringency along the edge of the tongue." You get to take your score card home to remind you what the different oysters taste like, along with the name of the vendors so that you can contact them if you want to buy more.