Blog: The Lowcountry Oyster Roast at the NYC Food Film Festival
Instant gratification in its purest and most positive form is nothing short of beautiful. This factor goes double for us living in a major city stacked on top of each other miles in the sky. And when someone “gets it” and uses it to enrich the masses you truly have something special. This flat out defines the 2012 New York City Food Film Festval. The LocalBozo crew was fortunate to attend the closing night of this overstuffed weekend event that effectively marries viewing short films pertaining to food, then literally serves up what’s being shown on the screen. And if that wasn’t enough, directly after the films were rolled all the guests were invited up to a huge rooftop for a Lowcountry style oyster roast.
With that figurative mouthful out of the way, let’s start from the beginning with the screenings themselves. Our sessions, the final few of the day, saw us enter the ample sized screening room with inquisitive smiles upon our faces. And with no time to waste, jack of all trades Festival Director George Motz hopped onstage to introduce this jam packed event. The first film of the night was titled “Mickle’s Pickle” directed by Nathan Wills. This short told the tale of an eccentric owner of a pickle business in a small town. The hook of the nine minute piece was how their oversized pickle sign had been stolen with the company campaigning to have it returned. The result was an incredible amount of buzz, with the film being a seriously entertaining look into a small business with tons of gusto. Moments later samples of their pickles were brought out which can best be described as very sweet at the start with a surprisingly spicy kick to the finish.
Next up, “Hot Wet Goobers” directed by Joe York told the story of the Hardy family, a group of Georgian peanut farmers who make a nut unlike anything we Yankees have ever tried. These farmers have perfected the art of boiling green peanuts yielding a moist, wonderfully salty taste sensation. As soon as they popped on the screen I wanted one in my mouth. The wait was thankfully short for these addictive snacks.
“Tic Tac Toe Chicken” directed by Tai Nguyen, featured the only local business during our session. The Williamsburg joint “M Shanghai Bistro” is the home to the aforementioned chicken dish, which is downright savory and highly unique. This dish and an empty basement turned the little bistro into an altnetative and highly sought after music venue during the end of the last decade, spawning the “M Shanghai String Band,” pleasing audiences for several years. It also didn’t hurt that they were serving endless amounts of the chicken dish.
George Motz returened to the stage one last time to show us “The Mud And The Blood,” a piece Motz himself directed featuring oyster production in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It was astounding to see the tireless work that goes into farming these briney clusters of goodness. It should also be noted that this piece taught us to only eat oysters in months with “R” in them, to potentially avoid getting sick from consuming them in warmer weather. After the feature ended it was time to follow Motz up to the rooftop and dig in.
This all out celebration of Lowcountry oysters would be a far cry from the sometimes snooty events we attend where the oysters are shucked and are ready to be consumed. No, this was a different animal altogether. The packed rooftop was loaded with tables filled with mammoth oysters for you to shuck yourself. Yep, everyone had to do some heavy lifting if they wanted to get a piece of the action. And with the help of some extremely helpful “table captains” like our friend, Linda Lou (The Cheeky Chef) we were shucking in no time. Through some trial, error, and a ton of laughter we were able to score some pretty meaty oysters. A roasted oyster retains so much character, that I think I’ll have trouble going back to the raw varieties. The salt profile is off the charts in a deliciously good way. It also didn’t hurt that our other good friends at The Bronx Brewery were on hand doling out hearty pours of their perfect pale ale.
In one tremendous evening we were treated to art and tasty morsels borne from that art. The New York City Food Film Festival gets a ton of praise from outlets all over the country. And you know why? Because it downright deserves it, and then some. But now I must go, I have to soak my shucking hand. That bad boy got a heck of a work out!
– Jay Rubin