Having Peter, our bearded Seattle-ite friend, come into town is always awesome. Outside of him being a cool person (hence the friendship), his visits are just the push we need to get out of the apartment and go on an adventure. Not only do we want to show Peter what consecutive hours of sunshine feels like, we want to show him all the cool things one can do in the Bay Area.
For this visit, our destination of choice was Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay. A sustainable oyster and shellfish farm, Hog Island is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty and bounty of the sea. You will also be reminded that you are, without a doubt, a total yuppie. The bayside setting of Hog Island may be rustic and unassuming, but there are enough popped collars and oversized Tori Burch sunglasses to remind you that the Marina is alive and well, and only 90 minutes away.
To make the most of your shucking adventure, a little bit of planning will go a long way. Here are some tips to make the most of your Hog Island extravaganza.
1. The best way to go hog wild at Hog Island is to make a reservation and take advantage of the “Shuck Your Own Picnic” option. While this requires at least one person in your party to feel confident that their shucking skills won’t result in a trip to the ER, it is well worth the brush with danger. Not only does shucking your own oysters bring down the price - a bag of 50 medium-sized oysters costs a mere $42 - but the picnic option allows for more food and drink flexibility. Not sure how to shuck? Watch Hog Island's video here.
2. Remember that Cowgirl Creamery is in Point Reyes, en route to Hog Island. Stopping here for some cheese tasting and purchasing is an absolute must. The Cowgirl Creamery folks are so excited about their cheeses, that not only do you feel like you instantly make a friend while you’re tasting cheeses, but they will help you select your cheese purchases based on your meal and final destination. Knowing that we were on our way to throw down on oysters, we were steered towards the always amazing, pungent and creamy Red Hawk, the superbly buttery Mt. Tam, and the Lambchopper, a sheeps milk gouda. A few loaves of crusty Brickmaiden french bread, and we found ourselves with a cheese course so delightful and enticing, it felt like a food adventure in its own right.
3. Bring your own wine and beer. This means you won’t have to wait in line at the bar with the non-planning, thirsty plebeians. And don't over think the wine/oyster pairing too much. You will be having too much fun to notice if your pairings are off. But you will notice how nice it is to not have to stand in a long line.
4. Bring some sausages and veggie skewers to barbecue. Each reserved picnic table comes with its own small barbecue, so it’s nice to bring some non-oyster fare to your feast. This is also a good option if you have any vegetarians in your party. Despite our best efforts, we were not able to convince our vegetarian that oysters are the flowers of the sea, just waiting to be picked.
5. Slurping down oysters is made even more delightful with mignonette, so make sure to bring this simple sauce with you. We made ours table-side with a shallot, parsley, and champagne vinegar. Just eyeball it, it will be perfect. If a squeeze of lemon and hot sauce is also your style, Hog Island provides both, along with the shucking knife and glove.
One final note...closing time always come faster than you want it to - be prepared. To help with the transition back to reality, make your way to Cavallo Point in Sausalito for a cocktail on the veranda. The view of the Golden Gate and lights of the city will remind you that even though one adventure is over, there are plenty more, waiting to be discovered...