February’s event wound up being at the Tides Tavern in my hometown, Gentle Reader, as they were holding their annual Tapmaster Festival, wherein they host sixteen local craft breweries on their taps; if you try all sixteen over the four-day-fest, you get a shirt. Not exactly what I was hoping to attend, but it fulfilled my requirements, in a pinch.
Attend a Festival/Street Fair Every Month For A Year
At any rate, mostly because it was nearly the end of the month and I apparently have a festival quota I have to make, I hit the Tides. Now, I’ve never been particularly fond of the Tides – it’s popular, but in my experience, if you’re not a regular, the service just isn’t up to par. Naturally, the place was packed to the gills for the festival, and I quickly grabbed a table to myself.
Now, this was during lunchtime, but the thing that grabbed my eye was the oyster shooter that’s on the happy hour menu – taking an oyster shot just so happens to be on The List. Once the waitress made it over to me – seriously, the crowd was atrocious – I inquired, and despite being off-hours, they made an exception because putting a raw oyster in a shot glass doesn’t require extra effort. Hooray!
The Task(s) Revised:
Attend a Festival/Street Fair every month for a year; Take a Raw Oyster Shot.
The Execution (Resumed):
So I was thrilled – however,
that was absolutely the last I saw of my waitress that was the last I interacted with my waitress.
The bartender brought my oyster shot and my beer; I put off taking the shot because while I love oysters, and I love sushi – well, I’ve heard awful things about oyster shots. It’s like swallowing snot, I’ve been told, or you end up chewing the damn thing forever – it just never ends. I wanted at least a beer in me before I attempted what would surely be disgusting.
The beer I chose was the Flying Monkey Pale by the American Brewing Company of Edmonds, Washington.
I’m really sorry to say that it was just on the drinkable side of putrid. I mean, I drank it; it wasn’t vomit-inducing – obviously, it wasn’t to my taste, but it was a little more than that – there were backnotes that reminded me of the sickly-sweet scent of garbage juice. The flavor was fine, until those hit – no matter; it just wasn’t my beer. I like ambers; I only chose it because of the name. I polished my pint off, squinted menacingly at the waiting mollusc, and knocked it back in one.
The oyster’s flesh was firm and tender and yielding; not chewy, not snotty. The flavor raw was just the same as if it had been parboiled before frying; the cocktail sauce washed in at just the right moment, when the oyster intensity grew tiresome. Then, because there was a lemon wedge and I wasn’t sure if it was the done thing, I bit the lemon. The noisy frat-boys, the working men on their lunch breaks, and the wealthy, retired, former frat boys meeting their wealthy, retired friends didn’t even give me a glance, so I guess it must be.
I then waited another half hour – empty beer, empty plate – before any of the wait staff stopped by my table. I watched my waitress chat casually with her coworkers, and then take out a crossword puzzle*. A crossword puzzle. I was ready for another beer, at least, or maybe for a proper bite of lunch beyond a single raw oyster, and I waited patiently as the six other waitresses and innumerable busboys orbited around in their ineffable dance, just watching my waitress ponder what precisely belonged in nine-down. She then took a break to check on the tables framing mine, while gliding past me without a glance.
The same bartender who’d brought me the beer and oyster earlier saw that – she darted over, apologetic – she was graciousness itself. She offered to get me another beer, or get the waitress if I wanted to eat – she was apologetic, kind, and a pleasure. At that point, though, the festival atmosphere was too much for me and I wanted out. The bartender brought me my check; I paid, and left the Tides Tavern without a second thought.
The oyster was amazing and I could easily take half a dozen for a modest meal. I suspect that this is because I ordered it off peak-hours, and they’re fresh and local out here (Minterbook Oysters are harvested just down the road from my mother’s place). In other parts of the world, or more frantic hours at the bar, I’m sure I would have gotten a less-appealing oyster in my glass. As far as the festival? Well, I was willing to try the other beers, if I’d been able to order them.
*I don’t begrudge her doing the crossword in downtime. I don’t mean to be one of those patrons – I really don’t, I’ve waited tables, I get it – but I really was looking to spend some money there, to enjoy the festival and take some lunch. I don’t often complain about service, if that gives my dissatisfaction any weight.