1st Annual Victoria Spot Prawn Festival

Victoria Spot Prawn Festival
former E & N Roundhouse
253 Esquimalt Rd.
Victoria West
Victoria, BC

The first annual Victoria Spot Prawn Festival had me chewing and nibbling on the two of my most favourite essences from the sea: oysters and prawns. Well, technically this event is for this beautiful crustacean.

Three weeks in, I imagine enough was gathered to have this show run on from 11am to 5pm in order to feed many hungry mouths! Because James is resting up to help as a “heavy-lifter” at a film set, I was left to attend this event on my own. I could have done both days.

But the ticket prices were on the high side for the the Saturday night function, where the Island Chef’s Collaberative (ICC) cooked up a bevy of delights. But for those who didn’t want to spend the $150, for nearly 1/6th that price, I still had a great lunch on Sunday.

I could’ve easily had five buckets worth of grilled prawn (5 pieces per were offered), but I held out. Instead, I beelined to the Outlandish Shellfish tent to try the oysters from Whaletown Bay. They can easily give Fanny Bay a run for their money. These particular oysters have a cleaner taste. I could not help but think of rivers of glacial origin gently massaging the fine sandy beaches of where these molluscs are raised. 

A gentile squeeze of lime was all I needed than to have the oyster dressed up with hot sauces and lemon. Also, I didn’t want to wait until the end of the day to discover they were gone. That’s the risk some kiosks have to face when plenty of people are seen waiting in line. At the other end of the tent, scallops were offered too, but they looked far too small to wait in line for. And I heard a few folks saying that the salmon slider was far too salty to make spending a ticket worth it. I stuck it out at this tent, only to notice later that the lineups would not abate. There was a good reason for that to happen. I could smell truffle oil in the air!

Yes, I needed my aphrodisiac first and succulence last. Spinnakers had their own take on the grilled crustacean by making a prawn boil and a seafood salad (which included mussels), whereas the ICC boys simply grilled their allotment straight up.

But I must say, even though I’ve heard some prawns can be eaten sashimi style, I didn’t get a chance to suck down its brains until today. The clear gelatin taste made for a ton of difference. I can easily get used to this particular way of eating them. When cooked, the meats from the head taste saltier, but when they’re eaten up raw, the muscles from this region of the spot prawn was very sublime. The flavour is not quite like caviar, but it did have a uniqueness to it. The tail in its raw state was far more sweeter.

If given a choice, I liked how Spinnaker’s enhanced the flavour of the prawn. There was a light charred taste infused into the meat.

But people visiting this show got more than just a food tasting event. There was a play area for children to get a paint-on tattoo and inside the building were cooking demonstrations from local celebrity chefs. And I was tempted to buy a cup of cold brewed coffee from Fernwood Coffee.

Of course, there were vendors selling products from one side of the venue to the other, like sea salts and salad dressings. I had to track down where that truffle oil scent came from and of course, it was right next to the oyster tent. This oil goes very well with popcorn. And so does the flavour of the prawn. Just let the butter gently melt over the shell (I suggest the head portion, since that’s where most of the unique taste comes from), and it can be used on anything, especially breads.

I was told by one ICC chef that this festival will return next year. A lot of people had fun, and I just have to wonder where the prawn that was tied to balloons had flown off to spread the word.

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