ONE CLASSIC, SO MANY WAYS: People who take their scoop of strawberry ice cream without hot fudge or peanuts or whipped cream cannot and should not be argued with: They like their sweet neat, the better to soak up its sugary essence. Likewise, chili enthusiasts are known to refuse the traditional toppings, add-ons like shredded cheese and croutons, the better to dig deeply into all of that savory, oily, meaty goodness. As for oyster aficionados? They, too, can often be found in two camps. You have the slurpers who like the briny bite straight from the ocean, without even a lick of lemon to be found. And then there are those who go for the sprinkles of green onion slices, the chunks of pork belly, the citrus squeezes, the cocktail sauce, and, yes, on occasion, popcorn, too. Neither nosher is wrong in their desires, and both will be heartily welcomed at Avila Beach over the first weekend in June. That's when the Central Coast Oyster Festival rolls out, in all of its glistening glory, but the eat fest isn't just about what's on the half shell; sounds are as important as the shucking, so arrive ready to savor both.
SATURDAY, JUNE 6: You shall do plenty of slurping over the two-day party, but if you're better suited to opening oysters, quickly, and a lot of them, there are shucking contests to join. Wine from the Central Coast region, and beer, too, will be served alongside the eats being sold at the food stands, and there shall be performance art, to enjoy, between slurping sessions. And music, too, a focus of the weekend. Plus? All of those ocean-close vistas and breezes, making you feel as those your briny-based enjoyment-having is right on the money. Ever shucked and slurped way, way inland before? We mean, no judgment, it can be done and done well, but something about being wave-close gives all of that oystering some can't-be-argued-with cred. Do you agree? Don your heaviest shucking gloves and stroll this way, bivalve buffs. (Update: The oyster party is on the first Saturday of June only.)