Feb. 21, 2018, 9:35 a.m.
In the cool and crystal waters nestled in between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and its famous oysters reside. On menus from Nova Scotia to China, oysters from PEI make their star appearance, famous for their sweet and salty flavor owing to the pristine waters that feed the Gulf of St. Lawrence. One of the biggest attractions since 1900 has been Malpeque Oysters.
Malpeque (pronounced “Male Peck”) first became popular 118 years ago in Paris during an exhibition. The wild caught oysters were packed and shipped to Europe, wowing Parisian Foodies and winning best in show. That was all it took for them to be world famous and their timeless taste lives on today, expanding its reach from Canada to Europe and to all parts of the globe.
Malpeques are still caught with fishermen going out in their Dories with a pair of large wooden tongs. Depending on the time of year, fishermen will sometimes make sure to ship the oysters direct from the location they were caught or move them to a bay where they can gain the sweet flavors of the ocean before being shipped out. There’s more than science at play when decisions like these are made, it’s a feeling, a je ne sais quoi, a hundred plus years of dedication to understanding the oyster that the public adores.
These wild oysters are gathered year round in waters that are much too cold to swim in. The fishermen know that this is the best time to get their shellfish, many of them stating the colder the water the sweeter the shellfish. Malpeque oysters have a meaty bite with the perfect amount of natural sea salt and a very sweet finish. They can go great with almost any pairing, although it seems a nice pint of lager might be best. But you won’t find the locals on PEI discerning. It’s a friendly inviting place that perfectly represents the nature of the oyster, a bit meaty at first but has a sweet finish.
We don’t always offer Malpeque oysters every week but we’re always looking for them. But, if we could drive up there, grab a dorie and a pair of tongs and grab them ourselves every week, we would.