Whitstable Oyster Festival
London in the summer + no garden = not a nice place to be, so a trip to Whitstable seemed like a great idea, especially as the annual Oyster Festival was on. On arrival we immediately polished off a pot of cockles (vinegar / non-brewed condiment free, and much nicer for it). However we had underestimated the popularity of the festival and most restaurants were fully booked all day. We were very lucky that Wheelers Oyster bar could squeeze us into their tiny shop for a mini seafood frenzy. (Guardian Review of Wheeler’s)

There was a fancy, pricier menu, as well as a selection of ‘light meals’ – from this we settled for half a dozen local oysters with lemon and Tabasco; a portion of whelks; a delicious huge and oozy omelette Arnold Bennett; and a whole lobster, cold and served with buttery potatoes and a salad. We were told to head for the Threshers across the road for our booze requirements, so we threw caution to the wind and indulged in a bottle of Cava because we’re posh like that. Everything was great – generous portions, tasty, fresh (well the sea was just around the corner), reasonably priced – and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in ages.

While we ate there was a seemingly endless line of people queuing for takeaway pots of prawns, whelks, jellies (is this what people are calling jellied eels? I’ve never heard it before), huge fish cakes, chunks of smoked eel, oysters (opened, to the great relief of one family who had not thought to bring their oyster knife with them), crab sandwiches, razor clams etc etc. I might’ve been tempted to get a bagful of goodies to take away, but I don’t think fresh fish would be at its best after sitting on the beach for an hour while I paddled followed by a 2 hour train / bus journey without refrigeration.

Sadly we just missed the Oyster Opening and Eating competition. Maybe next year…

— Emma (from her emanuensis)