a feast in February at Tomales Bay

by foodhoe on February 19, 2013

Tomales Bay Oyster Company | 15479 Highway One, Marshall, CA  94940 | 415.663.1242 | website

tomales_bay_oysters

Tomales Bay is the hot spot for oysters in the Bay Area where hordes of food lovers congregate to enjoy oysters and cook up a storm on the grills. It’s a lovely drive with gorgeous views all around, and we like to stop off at Point Reyes Station to pick up cheese and other delectables because there are so many fine food purveyors to be found at the Tomales Bay Food Market.  Mr. K’s parents were in town visiting from the cold country (Minnesota) along with his aunt Suzanne (from Pittsburg, PA) and to enjoy the warm sunny weather, we drove out to Point Reyes for a fabulous oyster feast.

tomales_bay

Tomales Bay Oyster Company (TBOC) specializes in fresh farmed oysters, clams and mussels from the cool, clean waters of Tomales Bay and the Pacific Northwest.   They are open from 9am to 5pm and the general picnic area is first come first served for groups that are less than 9 people.  Larger groups (10 people or more) require reservations and must pay a group fee of $75 per table.  There are rows of picnic tables crowding the hillsides filled with revelers and it is fun to take a walk around to see what people are cooking on the grill.

tomales_crowds

Here is the first round of Kumamoto oysters, served simply with a squeeze of lemon.  Kumamotos are our favorite, small and so sweet, with dramatically fluted bowl-shaped shells. We thought the price of $75 for 50 to be a bit high, the price has more than doubled in the past 5 years.

tomales_oysters

We got a couple dozen of their TBOC Local Small oysters to cook on the grill, shown here dosed with a dollop of fresh herb butter (here’s the recipe).  The succulent morsels plump up, gently simmering in their own juices and the herb butter melts in to create a delicious sauce.

tomales_grilledoysters

While all of the shucking and cooking is going on, we snack on thin slices of Comte cheese, which was full of crunchy little crystals that are actually an amino acid called tyrosine, along with a buttery and creamy Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam, a rich triple cream with a mellow, earthy flavor reminiscent of  mushrooms., Humboldt Fog, from Cypress Grove Chevre, luscious rich and tangy, slices of garlic scented Framani Salami, full of rich, meaty flavor, and thick crusty Brickmaiden baguettes that have been cooked in a wood fired oven.  Olives, chips, fresh vegetables too, but I guess I was too busy to photograph!

tomales_salami_cheese

There was a distinct chill in the February air so we really enjoyed the pot of garlicky steamed clams cooked on the grill (here’s the recipe).  Remember to bring bowls to serve this in as the garlicky broth is so good to dunk buttered bread into.

tomales_clams

The requisite hot dog was very tasty.  By early afternoon, we noticed people standing around with coolers, waiting for a table.  It felt like Koi Palace with people standing around the perimeter willing you to leave.  At one point someone came up to our table and asked if we were leaving soon.  When we did begin to pack up, a group lurked around territorially waiting for our table.  Lucky them, they scored a grill filled with hot embers!

tomales_hotdog

Past the picnic tables is a stretch of beach that provides expansive views of the shimmering water and is a good spot to stretch out your legs.  I noticed a couple sitting on folding chairs enjoying a bottle of wine and the views, away from the crowds.

tomales_beach2

When Mr. K and I got there early (10 am) we had our choice of tables.  Before the crowds showed up there was a cute little kitty cat walking around the tables, rubbing against your leg inviting you to scratch his back.

tomales_kittykat

Please sir, can I have an oyster?

tomales_trio

Ask and you shall receive…  I didn’t see the cat again, probably because there were so many dogs.  He has a prime location once everyone leaves.

tomales_kitty

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