A bounteous day in the North Bay

by foodhoe on February 14, 2011

We began with a good hike along the northernmost area of Point Reyes where we hoped to see whales, but didn’t.  The views were lovely, the sun sparkled on the water and there was a cool breeze in the air.  We toiled along enjoying the spectacular scenery and working up an appetite.  The plan you see, was to stop off at Hog Island in Marshall, to pickup some oysters to bring to my BIL Mank, who lives further up the coast in the quaint town of Graton, CA.

We got back into the car and drove the winding roads through historic cattle ranches with more gorgeous views than a happy cow can appreciate, to Hog Island which was packed.  The parking valet attendants (notice that there is now more than one) were busy running to and fro.  We ended up parking about a quarter of a mile down the road!

It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a picnic and it’s no wonder that the local oyster lovers all converged to frolic at the Hog Island oyster farm. The facility has been further improved so that the picnic area now includes a walk up bar where you can order drinks and food, a wonderful service that was long overdue!  An oyster bar, flushing toilets, sinks with hot water to wash your hands, valet parking, there’s a reason it is so popular.

Now, instead of just the rustic counter where you order oysters to shuck yourself, there is the Boat, a proper oyster bar where you can order them raw on the half shell or grilled, along with artisan bread, cheese, charcuterie and a variety of wine and beer.  They even had whoopie pies.  Although we were there to pickup oysters to go, I had to check out the new oyster bar and will admit that I didn’t want to wait to slurp a few oysters…

The view is still mesmerizing, a nice way to pass the time while you are waiting in line.

We waited about 15 minutes in the line to order and it took very little time for them to shuck our dozen of mixed varieties.  I was glad to see that they had Kumamotos on the menu, since they didn’t have any available to purchase by the pound.

The oysters were served on ice and came with a couple slices of lemon and a little cup of hogwash, the perfect condiment for oysters.  They are so fresh that purists slurp them straight out of the shell, but are also very good with a squeeze of lemon and a couple drops of hot sauce from the bottles on the tables.

Oh kumamoto, how mesmerizing it is to stare into your briny frilled depths…

Our next stop was at Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop in Point Reyes Station where I picked up a heart-shaped triple cream dusted with chili powder called Red Hots.  Yes, I believe this is a seasonal V-Day item, the chili powder does indeed ignite sparks on your lips…

I purchased a spectacular Epi baguette from Brickmaiden Bakery.  This was dense and chewy, with a faintly sour tang, smaller and more compact that the version we usually get from Acme in Berkeley.

I loved the crispy, chewy crust, and tender spongy interior, especially with the rich buttery cheese.

I picked up a slice of Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove, another favorite.  The texture is a mixture of creamy and crumbly and is flavorfully tangy.  It resembles a slice of cake, the gooey edges are dusted with a paper thin layer of edible vegetable ash which gives it an elegant appearance.

This is Otis, he loves bread.  He attempted to compel me to drop pieces of bread.

but we had to save the bread to dunk into the delicious garlicky buttery elixir that resulted when we bbq’d the oysters, and we continued to feast until late in the night…

in Mank and CDR’s lovely kitchen.   He is the one who arranges the flowers…

It was a very fine day.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

What a gorgeous day! I love the cheeses and epi baguette.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Single Guy Ben February 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

Oh, I always love reading your adventures to Hog Island up north. And you always seem to end up there when the weather is beautiful. You have to let me know how you do that. The new bar inside looks good because if I head up there, I’d probably be by myself so I’d rather order there than be sitting by myself at a BBQ pit grilling oysters. Ha! (BTW, I love your friend’s kitchen with the flower shelf.)

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hungry dog February 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is my idea of a perfect day: sunshine, oysters, cheese, and dogs! I love it up there. Sure looks like Hog Island has changed since the last time I was there, which was, admittedly, a long time ago. Valet parking!!

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rowena February 15, 2011 at 2:43 am

I’m guessing that it’s Mr K that got pixelated…at first I thought something was wrong with my eyesight!

You know, I have always and will always appreciate your oyster posts but it just clicked for me today as to WHY — it’s that you have family/friends that love oysters as much as you do! I/we are not as lucky…no oyster-lovin’ friends to speak of which is a shame considering how delicous they are!

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foodhoe February 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm

rosa, yes it was so very gorgeous
single guy, we will have to take you with us on our next visit… someone has a reservation for the 26th, it may be this month or next – interested?
hungry dog, definitely perfect and definitely worth a revisit!
rowena, dingdingding, you win the prize. Indeed that is the reclusive Mr K. I feel very fortunate to know many oyster lovers, but if only we had access to the sea urchins like you do!

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Lisa @ Tarte du Jour February 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

What a lovely day! The oysters look sublime….. and I do hope you gave Otis a nibble of bread!

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grace February 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

one fine day, eh? excellent. and i’m REALLY liking the sound of the red hot cheese. 🙂

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Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards) February 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm

beautiful day! I LOVE the northern california coast. Living in LA was awesome, but I’m moving to SF next week and I CANNOT WAIT for weekend road trips.

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