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.
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.)
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.
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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