Seattle has a few truly legendary culinary experiences. One of them is about to resume for the winter oyster season. Before Renee Erickson’s Walrus and the Carpenter oyster bar started racking up national acclaim in Ballard, the namesake Lewis Carroll poem signified for locals the Walrus and Carpenter nighttime oyster picnic. The lantern-lit oyster outings to the Totten Inlet at low tide offer wine, fresh oysters, a bonfire, and, in all likelihood, more oysters and wine. The first of three scheduled outings is December 21, and the $75 cost includes the round-trip bus ride from Elliott’s Oyster House to the Taylor Shellfish Farms oyster beds.
The nocturnal picnics are the brainchild of Taylor oyster guru Jon Rowley. The man whose own oyster-eating adventures could probably fill a ripping good memoir describes these outings as an experience “by which all subsequent oyster experiences will be judged.” Visiting the oyster beds by night adds an air of romance, sure, but according to Rowley it’s also the time when oysters are naturally at their coldest, and the best to eat. But before the eating must come the shucking. You can gather up oysters and do this yourself, or leave the tough stuff to the professionals (and turn your attention back to the wine).
The other Walrus picnics are January 7 and February 6. A wise idea: buy tickets now. And remember, all this wintry outdoor oyster eating happens whatever the whims of the weather.