Hello Mmm-yoso! It's Vicky again, blogging about the amazing eats available up here in the beautiful SF Bay Area. (Yes.... the tourism department should seriously be paying me money... but sadly, they don't. Hmph. Maybe I should forward this blog to them... J/K!)
Months before I moved up here, I went on this oyster binge. I couldn't get enough of these sweet little morsels of seafood goodness. I scoured Yelp for oyster bars and came across a famous one for SF locals called Hog Island located in the converted infamous Ferry Building. Being known for being so picky about the freshness of my food, this place actually really appealed to me in the sense that they grow their own oysters on their own farm! Wow... it seriously couldn't get any fresher than that and the prices seemed reasonable considering there was no middleman taking a fat profit cut.
After reading up on their website, I found out that the farm was located approximately an hour north of SF, near Point Reyes, in beautiful Tomales Bay. Apparently the water made for perfect oyster growing conditions. Armed with this information and a lot of hint dropping, my fellow partner in gluttony (henceforth shall be referred to as "Gluttony Partner.") and I made a day trip up the coastline in search of these goodies. Actually, correction... a day trip of GLUTTONY which included oysters. Unfortunately we picked a weekend that everyone and their fourteenth cousins 7 times removed decided to go visit SF; not to mention Caltrans decided to pick that weekend to shut down the Bay Bridge for retrofitting. Hence, we were stuck in the parking lot known as "everyone trying to get onto the Golden Gate." Thankfully the weather was gorgeous and we passed the time with me napping and Gluttony Partner staring at the license plate ahead of him.
Long story short, we finally made it to the Hog Island Oyster Farm, just as they were about to close. The drive up there was absolutely beautiful. We took Highway 1, and drove high above on the cliffs along the coastline where we saw the breaking waves far below. As we got closer to Tomales Bay, we were graced with bucolic scenary next to a secluded bay. Absolutely gorgeous!! As we drove up, we walked in and looked over the baskets and trays full of oysters. They specialize in Sweetwater, Atlantic, Kumamoto, and French Hog varieties. Gluttony Partner and I are very very partial to the Kumamotos, so we ended up with a dozen of the Kumamotos, a dozen Sweetwaters (small), and half a dozen Sweetwaters (medium), and half a dozen Atlantic oysters. Needless to say, the guy picking out the oysters was very generous and we ended up with around 45 oysters for the price of 3 dozen. After popping them on a tray full of ice and giving us a really fast lesson on shucking, we settled down on one of their picnic tables overlooking the bay. We started shucking away and realized that the Kumamoto's were the sweetest. The Sweetwaters (small) were very good. Unfortunately, we did not have the acquired taste for the Atlantics, and upon walking back, I found that they had brought out more Kumamotos. They were nice enough to swap out the Atlantics for Sweetwaters, and in doing so, gave us the remaining Kumamotos since they were about to close. Wow.... 55+ oysters for around 35 dollars!!
We had a blast shucking and getting our monthly allotment of calcium intake from the first couple of oysters. It was a beautiful day out and the scenary was absolutely amazing. Word to the wise, we got lucky that day considering it was a weekend and reservations for the picnic tables are required. Because we walked in an hour before they were about to close, we nabbed an empty one. They also charge 8 dollars a person (w/ prior reservation) and 10 dollars for walk-ins, for the usage of their picnic areas. (Which includes lemons, sauces, and shucking tools.) It worked out for us, since I had called, and the were booked a month and a half in advance. We had brought our own sauces and condiments.... and EToH.... Needless to say, the oysters were absolutely amazing since they were just pulled from the tanks. Bring lots of towels, and it really helped that we had stopped by a grocery store early that morning and picked up two gallons of water. (It helped with rinsing off the little fragments of shell).
Amongst the different variety available, we found that the Atlantics were extremely briney from the salt water. They were probably better if grilled. Being the barbarians we are, we prefer our oysters raw, hence the swapping out of the Atlantics. The Sweetwaters lived up to their names. Tender, juicy, perfect with a little bit of garlic and lemon. Our favorites were the Kumamotos; extremely delicate, and the flesh was extremely sweet. They are probably by far, my favorite oysters to eat.
So if any dear readers ever find themselves up here, ignore the wannabe fishmongers on Fisherman's Wharf, don't bother standing in the long lines where the tourists congregate. Take a relaxing drive up to Point Reyes and get your oysters fresh from the source. After our feast of raw oysters, we drove over to Point Reyes to check out the sunset over the lighthouse. It was definately worth the drive and the scenary was gorgeous.
Beached deserted ship at Point Reyes.
The end to a fantastic day of oyster gluttony! (Actually... we still had dinner plans... which will be detailed in my next upcoming post... Yes... the day of eating was not yet over... in fact I did not even blog about breakfast, lunch, and snack.)
For those who don't have the time to check out Hog Island Oyster Farm, the Hog Island Oyster Bar is located at the Ferry Building. They have happy hours on Monday AND Thursday (NOT Monday through Thursday) from 4-7 at $1 an oyster, spaces are first come first serve. Yes.... you read that right, for that crumpled up George Washington wedged in your couch, you can get a fresh screaming oyster.
Hog Island Oyster Bar
1 Ferry Building (Located on the back of the building over looking the bay)
San Francisco, CA
Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Sat-Sun 11:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Hog Island Oyster Company
20215 State Route 1 N
Marshall, CA 94940
Open Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Photo Credits: Sam H. & Vicky L.