Drive by certain segments of briny, beautiful coastline and you're apt to see roadside signs depicting happy, grinning oysters and the promise of tangy tastes just ahead.
Discovering a funky, blacktop-close stand serving straight-from-the-sea bivalves, or a fine restaurant with windows looking out over a beach, is one of the treats of a road trip that wends close to an ocean area known for its superior oysters.
Our country has a few of those, and the regions all sport their own distinctive oyster goodness. But how to travel around oyster hotspots like Cape Cod and the Northwest and Morro Bay, all in a day?
By stowing the plane tickets and cross-country budget and making for Grand Central Market downtown. The historic public market is hosting a meeting of the big brains of the bivalve business, as well as a full-on, weekend-long, slurp-and-smile festival for fans. Dates? Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25.
The DTLA Oyster Festival, of which the market-based Oyster Gourmet Pop-Up is a part, will feature bigwigs like Hama Hama of Washington State ("the oldest oyster farm on the West Coast," a briny bastion that will mark its centennial in just a handful of years) and Rock Harbor Oysters of Cape Cod.
Representing places closer to home? Look for Morro Bay Oyster Company -- mmm, Pacific Golds -- and Grassy Bar, also of Central California. Baja's own Sol Azul'll be in the market, too.
As for you and the intense slurpage you'll do? Show with a wad of singles, as each oyster is two bucks, and you'll find a wide assortment of pry-open goodies, straight from the ocean floor. Will you try something you've never slurped before? Here's hoping, slurpers of SoCal.
And here's hoping you'll stick around for the shucking demos, lessons on presenting and serving oysters, and talks on "the sustainability of oyster aquaculture," an important topic for sure.
Need wine with that? French vinos'll be sold at the Oyster Gourmet, if you like a little spirited slurping with your sea-salty slurping. (It's a fine and old pairing, so we're fairly sure that you, too, will be grinning like the oysters you see painted on ocean-close roadside signs.)