Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A gift for the foodie who has everything

With Christmas fast approaching our minds turn to the sometimes stressful task of gift buying. I love the festive season, especially buying presents for my friends and family, but every once in a while someone comes along who is especially difficult to buy for.

One of the most challenging in this category is the foodie who has everything. What do you buy for the person whose every truffle, Roquefort cheese or Iranian saffron need has been fulfilled? Well if you’ve got money to burn, the enterprising and technologically savvy Shanahan family in the little township of Wooli in northern NSW has the perfect solution. They are offering shellfish connoisseurs 10 dozen personally grown Sydney Rock Oysters, delivered fresh to the door for only $250.

Brian Shanahan runs the Oysters for Connoisseurs venture with his wife Diane and daughter Louise. He has been farming oysters for 35 years with 33 of those in the Wooli Wooli River. In the months of November to February Brian and his family place trays of three-year old oysters in the river where they grow for about a year before being picked and then delivered in a special oyster esky.

He said the experience of a fresh four-year-old oyster would be a new one for many punters.

``Normally it isn’t profitable to do that but that’s the service we’re offering,’’ Brian said.

``You’re getting an oyster you can’t get from a corner shop.’’

Last year the oysters were delivered in the week of Christmas and Brian is hoping it will be the same again this year. He said the oysters were a popular gift for 50th birthdays with 80 percent of last year’s customers signing up again for this year.

``It’s like eating strawberries, for that one week they are fabulous, the week before they are green and the week after they don’t taste as good,’’ he said.

``So we don’t give an exact time for when you receive them.’’

While low on the instant gratification stakes, if you are gifting someone the ten dozen oysters they can keep up to date on their progress throughout the year via regular web reports and photos on http://www.theoysterfarm.com.au. Or they can pay the oysters a visit and sample a few straight out of the water.

``Everyone who comes up loves it, they see the fish in the river and we get their oysters up and sample a few, even if they’re not ready,’’ he said.

With a Christmas delivery looking likely, if you don’t want your recipient to wait another 12 months there are still a few trays available in this years' batch. Brian and Diane can be contacted on (02) 6649 7355.

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