The overcast day at Tomales Bay meant it was easy keeping our oysters cool and fresh.

The overcast day at Tomales Bay meant it was easy keeping our oysters cool and fresh.

MARSHALL, Calif.
One of the popular things to do in the Bay Area is to drive north to Tomales Bay and shuck oysters fresh from the bay. And I’ve made it a couple of times out to Tomales Bay Oyster Co., but today I tried the other popular spot, Hog Island Oyster Co.’s Marshall oyster farm.

The well-known oyster producer has a picnic and dining area at its Marshall outpost, taking reservations for the few picnic tables where you can shuck your own oysters. (The dining area, known as “The Boat,” is where you can order fresh oysters that’s shucked for you at a higher price.) Reservations for the few picnic tables are so popular that I actually made the reservations for this Sunday back in January.

With a reservation at the picnic tables, you're allowed to buy fresh oysters from the "Hog Shack" and shuck the oysters yourself back at the table.

With a reservation at the picnic tables, you’re allowed to buy fresh oysters from the “Hog Shack” and shuck the oysters yourself back at the table.

The Hog Shack also has a "to go" window where people stop to pick up un-shucked oysters to take home.

The Hog Shack also has a “to go” window where people stop to pick up un-shucked oysters to take home.

Gloves for shucking available to borrow.

Gloves for shucking available to borrow.

This is how we could prove that we can buy oysters to shuck ourselves at the tables.

This is how we could prove that we can buy oysters to shuck ourselves at the tables.

The big difference between Tomales Bay Oyster Co. and Hog Island is that Hog Island offers the popular kumamoto oysters for sale, the tiny yet sweet oysters. My friends Jason, Tat and Ramon tried those along with a dozen small and medium sized Hog Island sweetwater oysters.

I left the shucking up to Jason and Tat, while Ramon and I worked on the charcuterie and cheese platter that we brought along. (Ramon brought a variety of French, Spanish and local Humboldt Farms cheese from Cheese Plus in the city, while I got much of my prosciutto, speck, calabrese and chicken liver mousse from the Pasta Shop in Rockridge.)

Popular kumamoto oysters ready to be shucked.

Popular kumamoto oysters ready to be shucked.

Charcuterie and cheese platter to munch on while we waited for the oysters to be shucked.

Charcuterie and cheese platter to munch on while we waited for the oysters to be shucked.

I also made a warm German potato salad with cucumbers.

I also made a warm German potato salad with cucumbers.

With a few bottles of white and red wine and the fresh oysters, we enjoyed our picnic without the pressure of people looking over us waiting for our tables. A reservation at Hog Island gives you a window of three hours to enjoy your table, which comes with the grill that we ended up not using since we simply ate our oysters with cocktail sauce or Hog Island’s complimentary “hog wash.”

Hog Island charges a $5 per person fee for the picnic table, but it’s worth it to have the guarantee of a spot with a view of Tomales Bay. While Sunday’s weather was a bit on the chilly side, it was a fun experience to relax with friends and enjoy some fresh oysters.

Oyster with cocktail sauce with freshly grated horseradish

Oyster with cocktail sauce with freshly grated horseradish

For dessert I simply made mascerated strawberries and watermelon with fresh basil. Jason brought some cream puffs from La Boulange.

For dessert I simply made mascerated strawberries and watermelon with fresh basil. Jason brought some cream puffs from La Boulange.

This kumamoto was so plump and delicious!

This kumamoto was so plump and delicious!

The picnic tables line the exterior of the dining area, or "The Boat."

The picnic tables line the exterior of the dining area, or “The Boat.”

The deets: Hog Island Oyster Co., 20215 Shoreline Hwy., Marshall, Calif. PH: 415.663.9218. Reservations only for picnic tables; walk in for The Boat. hogislandoysters.com

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5 Responses to Shucking Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall

  1. Brenda Ton says:

    I love Hog Island’s oysters and that kumamoto looks incredibly juicy, almost sexual even!

    • Ben Ben says:

      LOL, there you go wading into food porn territory! 😉 Yes, actually, that plump kumamoto made the entire trip worth it!

  2. Sandy says:

    Looks like a fun time! Hog Island is my favorite place to shuck your own oysters… love those kumamotos. They were charging $5 an oyster at Jacks Oyster Bar last weekend!

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    My favorite oysters — the only ones I refuse to put any sauces on because they are so wonderfully sweet-briny all on their own. What a fest you had!

    • Ben Ben says:

      I agree! And that’s what I keep telling my friends, that way I don’t have to bring all that extra stuff! 😉