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For the love of wine: In search of Colville Bay Oysters

My job requires a great deal of reading about a great many topics. To relax, I read about food and wine.

Recently, I read that the best oysters in Prince Edward Island, Canada – one of the world’s top oyster-producing regions – come from an outfit called Colville Bay Oysters. Despite loving oysters, and taking any opportunity to taste them, I’d never heard of these or seen them on any restaurant menus.

My favorites have long been Kumomoto oysters from Washington State, but after reading about Colville Bay oysters I knew I had to try them. I checked around and no one seemed to have a source, so I reached out directly to Colville Bay Oysters owner, Johnny Flynn. There was no response to my first email, but I was determined — so kept writing. To my surprise, I received a phone call at home one evening as I sat in my living room: it was Flynn.

Turns out Flynn does not ship his prized oysters to the United States, but after some conversation he invited us to Prince Edward Island for their annual fall seafood festival. If Colville Bay Oysters couldn’t come to me, I figured, then I would go to them. We planned the trip with good friends, making plane and hotel reservations…until an unfortunately-timed kidney stone hit, and I had to cancel.

When Flynn got word that we would not be able to come, a package arrived at my office with a gift, baseball hat, T-shirt and oyster knife with the Colville Bay Oyster logo. How could I reciprocate? I sent T-shirts with my son Danny’s store logo, Colville Outfitters, and we talked about rescheduling the visit to next year.

But that did not placate my new friend. Instead, Flynn laid plans to send a box of Colville Bay Oysters home with a visiting friend from the States, who’d promptly overnight them to me from his Vermont home. I was more than a little excited. The only problem: Who was going to eat the 100 oysters that would be arriving in days? Instant party plan. I called all my oyster-loving friends, including Peter and MaryJo Hunt, Brian and Debbie Lipke, Steve and Gina Detwiler and Frank and Kelly Mercado, for an impromptu Thursday night oyster tasting.

The green-shelled oysters arrived in perfect condition. The first oyster was calling my name, and I slurped it down. The other 99 were gone within an hour. Even better, they lived up to the hype: they’re now my favorites, edging Kumomotos into a close second.

Which leads to the next problem: how to get more for my annual oysterfest in summer. I’m already hatching a plan…and am so grateful to Johnny Flynn for going the extra mile to get me the first batch.

Warren T. Colville is publisher and president of The Buffalo News.

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