“When the knife holds in the oyster, then you twist.” George instructs as he is telling us the proper way to shuck an oyster. He has white hair, a white beard and if you look closely he wears a small turquoise, bear shaped earring. He is the quintessential San Francisco hippy/farmer/salt-of-the-earth man. His weathered hands have gently raised and swiftly shucked thousands of oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company on Tomales Bay. As a self-proclaimed farmer, George delivers his scripted lesson on oyster farming with a seamless hushed tone that almost takes you out to the bay with the sleeping, growing oysters. His passion for this foggy, rocky coast and its brackish waters is infectious.
We arrived at Hog Island Oyster Company after an hour and a half drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and through the winding roads of Point Reyes National Seashore. Tomales Bay provides a perfect breeding ground from some of the best oysters on the west coast. Salty, medium in size, and mild in flavor, Hog Island Oyster Company has oyster farming down to a science. They cultivate their oyster beds to produce deep shells with thick layers and oh so tender meat.
Hog Island has become a popular destination for oyster lovers. The best way to experience the farm is to reserve a picnic table and bring your own sides and drinks. Trays of freshly harvested ice-cold oysters can be purchased on site. Lemons, hot sauce, mignonette sauce, cheese and crackers, along with fantastic wine selections from nearby Napa and Sonoma are on the menu at The Boat Bar.
A tour of the farm is a must to gain a true appreciation for these oyster farmers passion and most importantly an oyster shucking lesson from George. Tables go fast and reservations are typically required months in advance. Mid-week reservations are easier to find. Be safe and rent transportation because oysters and wine have a way of making the day melt away.
Tomales Bay is the oyster lovers perfect day trip from San Francisco and a world away from the busy hillsides of the city. Find more information about Hog Island Oyster Company here.
My favorite topping for fresh oyster is french mignonette sauce. Simple and fresh I don’t need anything else.
- ½ cup sherry vinegar
- 1 medium shallot finely diced
- Combine vinegar and diced shallot in a small bowl. Chill for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving.
- Spoon a teaspoon of mignonette on a shucked, raw oyster.