Ocean of Plenty in Fanny Bay

The Ocean of Plenty – Shellfish Gala Dinner goes Saturday at the Fanny Bay Hall

CHEF DAWN McRAE has fashioned a mouthwatering menu

CHEF DAWN McRAE has fashioned a mouthwatering menu

As Valentine’s Day approaches and the inevitable head-scratching intensifies, the perfect gift opportunity comes like sunset on a sandy beach.

The Ocean of Plenty – Shellfish Gala Dinner, coming up Feb. 11, is a double delight: buyers show deep love for their special her or him, while providing loving protection for the Valley’s world-renowned shellfish.

The event is a fundraiser for Coalwatch, a local group with its collective eye on Compliance Energy Corp.’s plan to develop coal mines in the watershed above Baynes Sound, where the bounty of shellfish grow.

Cleopatra and Casanova are known to have loved shellfish. Legend has it that Casanova regularly ate dozens for breakfast.

While there will be plenty more than the libido-enhancing molluscs at the dinner, an Oyster Bar hosted by Fanny Bay oyster farmers Greg and Holly Wood is the place to find fine raw oysters on the half-shell, with choices of chilli, garlic puree, lime, cilantro and pesto garnishes.

Highly experienced local chef Dawn McRae, who just won the CV Chamber of Commerce 2011 Customer Service Award, has put together a mouth-watering menu, including appetizers of sea cucumber ceviche, with orange, cilantro and a touch of hot chilis, raw geoduck, with mint and basil dressing, and of course the oysters.

The plated dinner starts off with oyster cake, seared and served on a green salad with a lemon-pesto vinaigrette, followed by a mussel and clam rice main dish, served with butternut squash, arborio rice, cream and fine-diced vegetables.

Dessert is “chocolate coal cake,” sprinkled with “dirty” cookies and topped with orange.

“Our shellfish are an amazing resource, right here on our doorstep,” says Jeanette Reinhardt, one of the event organizers. “This is our second year showcasing these absolutely delicious fresh shellfish, which will be highly at risk from coal mines. The only guarantee that slag toxics won’t escape to Baynes Sound is to keep the coal in the ground.”

“Protecting our sustainable shellfish aquaculture is critically important,” said McRae. “It provides not only local seafood, but lots of jobs, stabilizing our economy, and helps to restore the environment. Besides that, locally sourced food always tastes better!”

McRae’s business, Custom Gourmet, is also donating an eight-seat meal for auction at the event.

The doors at the Fanny Bay Hall open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 each, available at Laughing Oyster Books and The Freakin’ Coffee Shop in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books in Comox, Fanny Bay Oyster’s Seafood Shop at the Buckley Bay ferry terminal, the Salish Sea Market in Bowser, Abraxas Books and Gifts on Denman Island and Heaven on Earth Natural Foods in Qualicum Beach.
— Coalwatch