LS sent an email around to see if anyone was interested in kayaking at Drakes Estero near Point Reyes. It had been months since Mr. K and I had paddled, so we eagerly signed up, along with P and DDR. Our guides were very experienced and we were led by Michael, a dashing swashbuckler, replete with a large intriguing jewelry and antique looking leather boots (leather boots in salt water and sand? seriously?)… The day was mostly cloudy, occasionally bright with a few really nice sunny periods and very little wind.
We paddled a total of 8 or so miles round trip and saw numerous pelicans, endless eel grass beds, one bat ray, and no leopard sharks. We were followed by many harbor seals, who would surface nearby, peering at us with their mysterious dark eyes, then disappear back into the water. Our take off and landing point was behind the Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, where we could see a group of people in rubber wading pants and aprons hard at work.
I’m not sure if this fellow was taking things in or out, but he schlepped back and forth throughout the day.
After we got back onto dry land and watching the interesting oyster operation in the back, we all were thinking about oysters. We stopped off at the little onsite store, Drakes Bay Oysters and had a half dozen.
They had a very utilitarian/high volume tub of condiments, including bottled lemon juice and a delicious spicy cocktail sauce in a squeeze bottle.
The oysters were sweet and creamy and really good with the thick spicy sauce, but someone had a hankering for kumamotos.
We opted to drive back to the mainland and head north towards Tomales Bay so that we could go to the highly regarded Hog Island Oyster Company. I have enjoyed dining at their fine oyster bar at the SF Ferry Building many times, which has an excellent happy hour and outside dining area. There was a big limo parked in front which gave it a jaunty air, but no celebrities present that we could see.
We walked into a courtyard where they have a stand selling oysters and clams.
We ended up buying one bag of 50 Kumamotos and another of 50 extra small Sweetwaters.
They were selling manila clams but we had our hands full. Next time though… they were beautiful.
They had a little container of limids and tiny mussels that they pulled off of the oysters during the day and return to the ocean that night. I like that they make that effort!
We attempted to bring our bounty to the picnic tables in their back patio, but were told that it was either full and/or about to close and that we had to go elsewhere. Awww, that was disappointing as it was getting dark, and it would have been so easy…
They directed us a few miles south to another oyster shack that had a picnic area with BBQ grills and we grabbed an open picnic table with a very nice view.
Here is the inaugural first oyster shucked by DDR. A real beauty.
Fortunately DDR, P and Mr. K were all eager to try their hands at shucking the oysters, which meant I could sit there taking pictures and eat while they toiled away. DDR brought the most delicious bag of Frito’s Chili Cheese snacks that went very well with our meal.
We also enjoyed some sliced bread baked with roasted garlic and butter.
Our rustic presentation. The space between the planks of the picnic tables was perfect to line up the opened oysters.
We had the most sumptuous feast. Here is an oyster with lemon, fresh cracked black pepper and a couple drops of tabasco.
And another one dressed with Hogwash, which I made using the recipe from the Hog Island Oyster Co.’s website. It is basically a mignonette with minced coriander, jalapeno and shallot and is the most delicious thing ever on oysters and seafood!
Strangely enough, none of these picnic areas were selling any conveniences such as plates, forks or paper towels. Having somehow assumed that we would be magically provided with these items, I didn’t think to bring them. Therefore, we dined directly on the wooden picnic tables and ate with our hands. I did bring the following necessities:
oyster shucking knife, one kitchen towel, the tail end of a roll of paper towels that immediately was used up, 3 lemons, knife to cut lemon, tabasco, hogwash, pepper grinder, bread, butter and knife.
With these basic utensils, we dined very well indeed.
It started to get dark, a little chilly, and all of the oysters were eaten so we packed everything up and hosed ourselves off at the convenient foot pump sinks by the port-o-let. We guiltily noticed that the guys at the shack were standing around politely waiting for us to leave…
What a fabulous way to spend the day. We made plans to come back soon for more oysters and a hike around Drakes Estero… Hopefully we can snag one of those picnic tables at Hog Island if we get there earlier and try our hand at steaming the manila clams on the grill.