Oyster tasting in the Gulf of Morbihan with Ivan
Explore Ivan Sélo's oyster farm in southern Brittany and enjoy an oyster tasting on board!
In the Gulf of Morbihan, visit oyster farmer Ivan Selo's oyster beds during a fascinating excursion that's a treat for the palate. It’s a unique experience and, at the end of it, you'll know all there is to know about this pearl of the seashore.
Five generations of oyster farmers
When it comes to oysters, all I know is that I prefer them raw, but I have no idea how they come to be there on my plate. However, Ivan Selo, an oyster farmer descended from five generations of oyster farmers, knows every last thing about this particular shellfish. His place of work is at the end of the Pointe de Toulvern, a little slice of paradise in the heart of the Gulf of Morbihan. It’s around midday when we arrive there, the weather is especially fine, the sea is calm and the landscape is soothing. Just before the tide starts to go out we board Ivan’s barge and steer towards the oyster beds!
The trials of an oyster farmer
Because he has oyster beds near Locmariaquer, the Île Longue and Quiberon, Ivan knows the area like the back of his hand. He can find his way around the gulf; he knows where the currents run and can let us in on the secrets of the trade. There are lots of passengers with questions to fire at him. Why are oysters milky? How do starfish manage to eat them? He’s got all the answers at his fingertips. And, because he’s especially careful to avoid any kind of pollution on the foreshore, he's had a barge built with an electric motor especially for excursions like this.
Bash those oysters !
After half an hour’s sailing, Ivan beaches his barge on the Île Longue. Waders are handed out to those who are game enough and the chosen ones descend into the water to get up close and personal with the oyster beds. That’s where Ivan shows us how to handle the oysters in the same way that oyster farmers have to do all day long. The big surprise is that you have to tap the oysters! By breaking the edge of their shells you slow down their growth lengthwise and force them to grow more thickly. Ivan gives us all bats and invites us to follow his lead. You turn over the bags, bang them with your bat before moving on to the next one. We giggle and take photos of each other but our arms soon get tired. It’s hard work!
Oysters washed down with a nice drop of white
After all our efforts we deserve a reward. Back on board the time has come to taste the oysters. All it takes to make this a real delight is a glass of white wine and some bread and butter. The oysters are not over-salty but they are succulent and fleshy. Some of the passengers believe in swallowing them whole but Ivan’s advice is to chew them. But everyone agrees on one thing: this uniquely Breton experience is an enormous pleasure. Oysters taste even better on a Gulf of Morbihan boat in the company of Ivan.
Text: Julie Durand