A feast of oysters at Hog Island in Tomales Bay

by foodhoe on December 23, 2015


Greetings from our rainy corner of the world!  A couple of weeks ago we had a beautiful picnic at the Hog Island oyster farm in the town of Marshall which is up the coast near Tomales Bay.  They charge a $5 per person picnic fee, and getting a table is so competitive that I had to book the table 4 months in advance, and wouldn’t you know, the date of our reservation was the day the rain finally started…  But that didn’t stop us, because this is the ultimate oyster lover’s picnic where you get to shuck-ur-own oysters alongside the bay in which they were grown.


Picnic tables come complete with a grill, oyster shucking tools, lemons, hot sauce, hogwash and a complimentary shucking lesson.  It was weird to see so many empty tables, and amazingly it was still pretty empty when we left 3 hours later, so if you are not afraid of a little rain and have no reservations, you should go get yourself some oysters.


The oysters from Hog Island are always so fresh and sweet, they are after all, just plucked from the surrounding waters.  We loved slurping them up plain, or with a little lemon juice and tabasco, or with the famous Hogwash, made from the recipe on their website.  If you haven’t had it, it is the perfect condiment for any and all fresh seafood: rice vinegar, shallots, jalapeño and cilantro, and lime juice all combine to add a burst of bright flavor that augments the sweetness and brine of the oysters without overwhelming it.


Here is Patrick and Brenda (of Bites & Bourbon), they are awesome to have along for this type of picnic, because they both love to shuck oysters and have excellent taste in food and friends…


I made a couple of sauces to put on the oysters on the grill, from the left is from the Hog Island website for BBQ bourbon chipotle butter, and the other is a fresh herb butter from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food (love that book). The oysters on the right were unshucked and left to cook and open on their own.


The BBQ Bourbon Chipotle Butter was spicy, sweet and savory, and while we normally don’t much like sweet, this complex combination of flavors was the surprise winner!  The oysters that we left to open on their own were unexpectedly pure and clean tasting with an incredible tender-chewy texture that I loved.


We snacked (while Patrick and Brenda were hard at work shucking) on fantastically crusty baguette from Acme bread spread with sweet creamery butter.  Our friend David made an intriguing salad with beautiful colors and packed a bit of spicy heat.  It was just the thing to go along with our rich feast.


Patrick and Brenda brought a ridiculously delicious rich and fatty salami and cheese of triple cream decadence.  There were other things too: juicy grapes, chocolate, dips, chips and nuts to graze on, along with many bottles of icy cold beer.


Since it was chilly out, I felt a need for something hot, so I made manila clams steamed in their own juices with garlic, olive oil, butter and some white wine, I threw in a little chorizo and fresh parsley at the end (click here for the recipe)… I have this one pot that fits so nicely on the grill and once covered, it magically simmers into this exceedingly delicious, steaming hot dish with a savory broth that you will want to dunk bread in to soak up and devour.  Much devouring ensued…


It was a simple and fine feast with good friends in an awesome setting, it just doesn’t get better than that!

hi_panoramap.s. hope your holidays are happy!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda Ton March 18, 2016 at 11:29 pm

I love this post so much! What a fun and memorable day. We have to go back soon!


foodhoe March 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

yes, you guys free in about 4 months? Let’s do it! Anyone else care to join us?


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