Slurping Sweetwaters at the Hog Island Oyster Farm

by foodhoe on March 25, 2010

20215, Highway 1, Marshall, CA |  415.663.9218 ext. 208 | website

Around here the hills are green from the recent rain, the trees are flowering and I just love the longer days.  What better way to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather than a picnic at the Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall, which is about ten miles north of Point Reyes.  Over the past year they have made some improvements like restrooms with flushing toilets where you can wash your hands in blissfully hot soapy water.  This is important, believe me, after shucking piles of oysters, which also makes for messy finger food… They even offer valet parking!  Mr. K’s sister Casey made reservations months ago, so we had a picnic table with a lovely view of Tomales Bay where we spent the afternoon stuffing ourselves silly with the bounty of the sea.

Alas, they were out of our favorite mollusk, the dainty kumamoto, but had a plentiful supply of extra small and small sweetwaters which are plump and sweet and deliciously creamy. First, we enjoyed them au naturel, fresh and briny like breathing in the fresh ocean breeze.

I prepared the Hogwash, the signature elixir made from shallots, jalapeno, cilantro, rice vinegar and lime juice that is curiously suited to any and all fresh seafoods.  We also love it drizzled over freshly steamed dungeness crab.

I branched out and brought a bottle of chili laced sesame oil and wasabi sauce that added a delightful pizazz to the mix.

Here is the assortment of condiments that I brought along to use on the oysters….  talk about an embarassment of riches!  I remember the first time we came we didn’t think to bring plates or even forks…  Along the way, we stopped off in Point Reyes at the Cowgirl Cheeseshop where I picked up a delicious Fra’Mani Salami, some cave aged gruyere, a nettle covered creamy cheese called appropriately St. Pat,  and some wine to drink and slosh into the steamed clams later.

I made an herb butter that was very good on the grilled oysters, and Mank’s wasabi butter was a brilliant idea.  Ahhh the unexpected and beloved nasal blast of wasabi… there’s nothing better.

and Mr. K made an outrageous chili paste from smoked chilis and garlic that added an amazing depth and smoky rich flavor to the oysters – way better than bbq sauce.

Laine brought a big pile of prawns that were tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled on the bbq, then finished with a dab of the herb butter.

It was a delicious treat. Messy, and finger licking good.

And I made Wad’s Steamed Clams on the grill that had complete strangers coming up to introduce themselves and ask about what we were eating.  A simple recipe of clams steamed with garlic, shallots, butter, olive oil, white wine, and a few stalks of parsley.

garlicky and delicious, this dish caused many strangers to introduce themeselves...

This is especially enjoyable served with a good french bread, like the epi loave from Acme Bakery in Berkeley (another stop along the way).  A little butter and dunked into the garlicky broth… just thinking about it makes me want to do it all over again.

There was an assortment of chips and dips along with duck pate among the piles of food and I didn’t even take any pictures of the hot dogs, just of these two adorable pups…. otis and lily who are so well behaved and love hanging out at a picnic.

For so early in the year, I was surprised at how packed the picnic area was…  Reservations are hard to come by, and it seemed like each picnic table was packed to capacity.  It made for a very festive atmosphere, along with the reggae music playing in the background.

It’s worth the effort, I love the fresh air and the lovely views and the plaintive call of the seagulls.  There are so many wonderful places to eat well in the Bay Area and this is definitely one of the best.

click here to peruse through some of our previous visits to Hog Island.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

hungry dog March 25, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hey, why wasn’t I invited?! I love Hog Island and haven’t been there in a couple years. YOur feast looks incredible. Otis and Lily are very sweet.
.-= hungry dog´s last blog ..Vanilla bean bundt cake =-.


Rosa March 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

What a lovely place. I’ll take the shrimps and leave the oysters for the others ;-p…




Single Guy Ben March 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Oh, I love it when you do this annual trek to Hog Island for oysters au naturale. Looks like you got all fancy this year with all your condiments! Were those pups with you or were they just curious onlookers?
.-= Single Guy Ben´s last blog ..My Crazy Curry Loco Moco Recipe =-.


grace March 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm

count me among the squeamish folks (also known as pansies) who don’t care for oysters. methinks chili oil would be a necessity! 🙂


Cookie March 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

We keep meaning to check this place out but the weather hasn’t been nice enough until now. I LOVE oysters and it’s such a beautiful place! Maybe this weekend!
.-= Cookie´s last blog ..Rachael Ray’s Pork Chops =-.


Gastronomer March 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Now, that’s a damn fine way to spend a spring day! Your clams look fabulous, by the way. So simple, so delightful!
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..Yojie Japanese Fondue and Sake Bar – Los Angeles (Downtown) =-.


Carolyn Jung March 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

Man, you guys know how to PARH-TEE in the great outdoors. What an amazing time! And what a mind-boggling spread of gourmet eats. Love the oysters they raise. They are the best you can get.
.-= Carolyn Jung´s last blog ..Celebrating All Things Goat, Rhone & Cheese =-.


Phyllis March 28, 2010 at 7:26 am

This is my idea of the perfect afternoon! (I would bring a ton of condiments with me as well!)
.-= Phyllis´s last blog ..Chocolate that speaks to you… =-.


Marie March 31, 2010 at 1:06 am

Oh man, why did I see all of this late at night! Now I will be plagued by a craving for oysters. I suppose there’s a chance I could dream about them. 🙂 Everything looks absolutely lovely.


Ted August 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Wow those oysters look delicious!! You can’t get any fresher than a Oyster farm:)


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