As the days grow longer and warmer, ski areas compete with golf and gardening by staging tropical festivals in their winter wonderlands. It would be hard to find a hill in North America this time of year without a weekend featuring luaus, ski patrollers in grass skirts and that old chestnut of pond skimming.
Much like skiing in general, pond skimming isn’t nearly as challenging as it once was, thanks to the gear. Snowboards skim like wakeboards. Snow skis are getting nearly as fat as water skis. The risk of hypothermia has been greatly reduced, but not the entertainment value.
Extroverts among us spice things up by wearing outrageous costumes, sexy bikinis, or their most incriminating pair of underwear. And the delight of seeing snowboarder shrinkage never gets old, so the mountains give the people what they want. Mount Spokane will be digging their pond out of the bunny hill this week for its sixth annual Slush Cup on Saturday.
You’ll find beach parties and pond skimming at every local hill the next few weekends. But if you’re looking for something completely different, consider giving your libido a boost Saturday with the oyster feed at 49 Degrees North.
Former general manager Denny Bermeister started the oyster feed tradition at 49 Degrees North more than 25 years ago. His family worked with Blau Oyster Co. out of Samish Bay on Puget Sound. Resort owner John Eminger will drive to Samish Bay just south of Bellingham on Friday to pick up 200 dozen fresh oysters. He’ll return immediately, with a pit stop on Snoqualmie Pass to pack the half-ton of live oysters riding in his truck bed with snow.
Eminger will arrive on the mountain late Friday and stash the oysters in snow overnight until a shucking team gets busy Saturday morning. The oysters are boiled first, then grilled and served with your choice of lemon butter, garlic butter, cocktail sauce or lemon and mignonette toppings, plus homemade coleslaw, macaroni salad and chips. Should any remain, you can buy the extras in a take-home bag.
There may be more truth than myth surrounding the magical effects of oysters. A few years ago a study suggested that oysters could really be an aphrodisiac. In a 2005 presentation at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, a team of American and Italian researchers described how they analyzed mussels, clams and oysters to find high levels of rare amino acids that triggered increased levels of sex hormones (in rats).
Best of all, spring is the time of year when the craggy little bivalves are at their most potent. Spring, when according to the scientists the oysters are breeding, is when they have the highest concentration of those amino acids. They noted that you probably have to eat a lot of oysters to feel the tingle.
Legend has it the prolific Italian lover Casanova ate 50 oysters every morning for breakfast to stay in top form. Find out for yourself if it’s true. Get all you can eat for just $17.49.
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