'The Rolls Royce' of oysters arrives
The first Bluff oyster crop of the year has one Auckland restaurant boasting it has "the Rolls Royce" of the delicacy.
Vinnie's Restaurant owner-chef Geoff Scott spent a night onboard the season's first fleet of dredging vessels in the Foveaux Strait last night.
"They set sail from Bluff at 11pm, its been a 24 hour adventure," he said.
"You're not allowed to fish before midnight, it opens March 1 officially."
Scott's time harvesting the oysters was cut short by a nasty bought of seasickness, but he was rewarded with "the Rolls Royce" of the crop.
He flew back to Auckland with ten dozen Bluff oysters and he will continue to receive live oysters twice a week throughout the season.
Scott said the restaurant was passionate about great New Zealand produce.
"One thing we are really proud of at Vinnie's is we only serve live oysters so in the shell and we shuck them when the guests come to the restaurant," he said."With the season opening we had to have live oysters and we had to have them on the first day.
"I had never been down before so I thought this was an opportunity to go down to see actually how it all happens and to get to the source and get the story straight from the horses mouth."
Scott says getting an oyster out of little plastic bottle is not the same as having live Bluff oyster and it is difficult for restaurants to sustain live oysters for a whole season.
"What's really exciting is I can say I know the guys, I know how it's done, I know the ins and outs, the stats, how many they get and hour, how the quota system works and I've seen the boats," he said.
"It just adds a whole other story, which I believe our diners love."
Vinnie's would be serving the oysters four different ways all season, and customers could even have their oysters opened in front of them if they wanted.
"We will be selling them at $6 per piece and one of the really neat things is that all the crew put aside the Rolls Royce for me to bring up," he said.
"When I took them to the MAF guys they said you must have done something, you've got all the big ones."
Scott says customers who dine on Bluff oysters at Vinnie's will not only be sharing in his adventure but the history of the Bluff.
"Everyone in some way is either connected, or has worked with, or trained with, or learnt the craft which gives me a sense of amazing tradition and pride," he said.