Words & Photo: Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival
From cultivated and wild, to au naturel and the Flavours of Knysna, more than 100 000 oysters will be shucked and slurped at the 31st annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, between 4 and 13 July 2014. A delicacy often reserved for special occasions, oysters can be enjoyed to the fullest during the festival thanks to a programme of events that puts them front and centre.
Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt says it's important that festival goers have the opportunity to sample oysters prepared in many different styles at an affordable price. "The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is all about relaxing with friends and family, and to help make sure oysters are part of the fun we have designated Tabasco® Oyster Hotspots that will offer some incredible deals during the festival - for example the Pick n Pay Fresh Experience at the main Festival Pavilion will be offering 6 wild cocktail coastal oysters for just R34."
The more than 20 restaurants designated as Tabasco® Oyster Hotspots are located throughout Knysna and Sedgefield, from the Waterfront and Knysna Quays, to Thesen Island, Main Street and Myoli Beach. Patrons can look forward to many creative preparations, from elegant creations like those at Conrad Pezula's Café Z, served with pineapple ice & lime, to the "WILD" oysters served at Tapas & Oysters – otherwise known as the "Party Starter" – which are finished with Olmeca Black tequila. A complete list of Tabasco® Oyster Hotspots, including menus and pricing, is available on the festival website www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za.
Festival goers can also look forward to the Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna gourmet evening on Wednesday the 9th of July from 6PM. A sell out event, the evening features the popular 'Oyster Cooking Competition' when local restaurateurs compete against one another to serve up the ultimate signature oyster dish.
Event manager Sasha Campbell says, “Guests receive a booklet of coupons that can be traded for tastings at each restaurant stand, and a wine tasting glass with which to sample a selection of Cape and Regional wines. Meanwhile, a panel of judges – including both celebrities and members of the public – will decide the winners of the Best Dressed Stand Award, and will select the winning oyster recipe after a blind tasting. There will also be a full menu with a variety of entrées to suit almost all palates, including starters, main courses and desserts, plus live entertainment throughout the evening." Tickets to the Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna are priced at R165 per person.
The Oyster Shuckle Comedy Evening, on Thursday the 10th of July from 6PM, is another one of the festival's most popular oyster events. Professional comedians Kurt Schoonraad and Stuart Taylor will MC the funny way, while presiding over the competitions. In 2013 Patrick Sibeko won 1st place for the 3rd year in a row, shucking 26 oysters in just 2 min 24secs, and locals Eben Strydom & Wayne Rhode won 1st place for shucking & eating 14 oysters in just one minute! Event manager Picca de Bruin says, " Anyone wanting to enter the oyster shucking and eating competitions should email me at . Entry to the competition is free and includes all-you-can eat oysters" she laughs, "…but you'll have to work for it!" Tickets to the Oyster Shuckle Comedy Evening are priced at R100 per person and include six oysters and drink.
Tickets for these popular events are available at Knysna Tourism or online at www.pnptickets.co.za. Be sure to book early to avoid disappointment. For a complete listing of Tabasco Oyster Hotspots, visit www.pnpoysterfestival.co.za or for more information contact Knysna Tourism on 044 382 5510.