Foodie Find: Hog Island Oyster Farm — Tomales Bay, California

Look at all those bivalves!
Look at all those gorgeous bivalves!

Many years ago, in college, I tried eating an oyster for the first time (and it was a gigantic one–in my memory it was at least the size of my palm, if not bigger) at our senior class picnic. Rather than learn to embrace the seafood delicacy, my fear of the slimy bivalve was confirmed, and  I nearly barfed up all the beer and other unsavory liquors I had been drinking all day. I promptly decided I was not an oyster person and didn’t eat them for years after that.

I don’t exactly remember when or how it was that I was reintroduced to oysters, but I think it probably happened after moving to New York. Now that I am a cosmopolitan person with a more refined palate (oh New York), I actually really love them. The briny, cool taste accented by fresh lemon juice and a drop of red wine vinegar is just a unique food experience that you don’t get from anything else.

There’s also something about eating oysters accompanied by a crisp glass of white wine or a refreshing pint of a good brew on a sunny day that just embodies awesomeness. (You know it’s not true that you should only eat oysters in months that end with ‘r’ right?) Not that I work in an industry that allows me to get out of work early enough to do this, but a good oyster happy hour deal where you can sit outside, take in late afternoon sun, and get your buzz on is perhaps one of my perfect ways to spend a nice summer day.

food at table 1280
Isn’t this picture already making you want to be there?

My family visited Northern California last summer and you can imagine how psyched I was to find out that there is an oyster farm, about a 1.5-hour drive north of San Francisco, where you can just sit out at picnic tables, shuck your own oysters, drink local beers, and bring your own picnic. And the oysters are cheap! This is literally the dream. One day I will live near a place like this, go there all the time, perhaps after a good morning surf or painting session (or whatever future cool me will be into) and take it for granted that I am in such close proximity to greatness.

picnic table in front of bay 1280
The picnic tables at Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall, CA.

Hog Island Oyster Farm is a small, locally-run business that just has a feel-good vibe to it. The people that work there are really friendly (one of the guys was a Georgetown student home for the summer!), and I like that they do one thing (farm and sell oysters) and they do it simply, but well. It’s places just like this that I wanted to start making videos about. At the time, I didn’t have a video camera, so I used my brother’s crappy camcorder to take some footage and I thought, Hey if I can manage to create a video from it, great. If the quality is too low, no big loss. I recently finally found the time to look through the footage and cut it together. The image quality isn’t great, nor is the sound (I need to buy a mic!), but hopefully you get a little bit of an idea of how cool this place is. Also, this is the first time I’ve ever appeared in anything I’ve shot, so didn’t have a script written, as well as the first time my brother had to hold the camera for me. So let’s hope that future videos just get better and better! 🙂 (And maybe I’ll step up my on-camera wardrobe game a bit.)

Check out the video below. And the next time you’re in Northern California, impress all your friends by taking them to Hog Island Oyster Farm!


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