We had a great Sunday, two weeks ago, with our friends Niko and Kimberly. They asked us to join them for an afternoon tooling up the Northern California Coast to sample oysters. Neither of us have done this before, even though we love (okay, I LOVE) oysters. Lenny, just likes them; but, after this excursion he admitted that this was an amazing experience and that he really loved slurping back a few dozen.
It was a hot day in the city, so we knew we were in for a treat on the coast. We started from the city and made our way out to our first stop, Tomales Bay Oyster Company. The drive to Tomales Bay took us over rolling hills, dotted with cows and sheep flocking in the grass. It was really special. We passed dairy farms, cheese makers and occasional wine stops. After 45 minutes of driving through Marin County, we reached Tomales Bay, a small inlet of a town, whose major industry is oyster harvesting. It was the perfect day; hot, a slight ocean breeze, and sea-salt kissing our lips.
Tomales Bay Oyster Company specializes in farm fresh oysters that are plucked from the crystal clean waters of Tomales Bay. The atmosphere is funky and slightly bohemian. Picnic tables complete with a wooden shucking area, line the cove. Music is playing. Laughter fills the air. And everyone is there to have a great time and to slurp down some amazing oysters. We loved the atmosphere as much as we loved the outstandingly fresh oysters. Slightly briny, and amazingly fresh. The sweet nectar that is left inside the shell, after shucking, was all that you really needed to enjoy each sweet bite. Or a splash of Mignonette.
After throwing back 4 dozen oysters and a dozen clams, we hopped into the car and made our way to The Marshall Store, their sister location. This seaside shack is perched along the coast about 15 minutes North of Tomales Bay. It is casual, not fussy, and offers a bit more than our first stop. A long family style table just outside the parking a lot awaits hungry travelers who dine tougher. Something a bit more intimate can be found on their wrap around deck. We grabbed four seats at the family style table and broke open a couple icy cold beers. Even though our bellies were full, the sea grabbed us by the hand and lead us to the counter to order more oysters. This time around we went with oysters that had been prepared already. We had a dozen of the BBQ with Garlic, Chorizo with Chorizo Butter, Kilpatrick with Bacon, and the classic Rockefeller. I usually prefer my oysters to be raw; but, have to admit, these were amazing. All of the flavor combinations were outstanding but our favorite was the Chorizo. The oysters were cooked to perfection, and the the seasoning was not overbearing, you could still taste the sea with each bite.
After spending the day in the sun, sipping Moscato, icy cold beers and over indulging in dozen after dozen of sexy Northern California oysters, it was decided, that this was a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. Wouldn’t it be fun way to show out of town guests a gem of the Bay Area; now, you know what we will be doing when you visit.
We are also thinking that it would be great fun to grab a few dozen fresh oysters from Tomales Bay Oyster Company, and have an oyster BBQ at home. Niko, are you available to be our star shucker? Be sure to follow these steps for keeping your shellfish alive and delicious.
- Keep shellfish cold until shucked
- Store the shellfish on ice or in a refrigerator
- Do not put the shellfish in airtight containers; you’ll kill them.
- Do not submerge in fresh water or let the ice melt so much that it drowns them.
- Shucked oysters should be stored cut side up with their nectar in the shell, and on ice
- Shellfish that is slightly opened before shucking; TOSS. Their shells should close tightly when tapped.
- 1 tablespoon finely crushed white peppercorns
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- kosher salt to taste
- Put everything into a small glass jar, cover with a lid, and shake.
- Eat. (or in this case … slurp)