November 29, 2010

Local Treats

I love oysters. They are one of my favorite foods. I appear to enjoy them so much, that E had to test his theory that he had inherited a family shellfish allergy just to see if he, too, could enjoy them. Thankfully, he can, and we often enjoy oysters together.

And yet, despite our joint enjoyment of the slippery little suckers, for some reason, we'd never been up to the oyster farms near Point Reyes.

So, the day after a mellow Thanksgiving with friends, we set out for the gorgeous drive up Highway 1, north of San Francisco.


This portion of Highway 1 is eerily free of human development. The Highway traces the coast and then threads through the Golden Gate Park National Recreation Center, the Mt. Tamalpais State Park, the Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Here and there, grandfathered homes and dairies dot the landscape, but for much of the drive, it is simply the highway and the untouched marshlands.

Our first stop was Tomales Bay Oyster Company.


It was a gorgeous setting, but the groups that were already there, dressed in waders and wearing shucking gloves, were too professional for E and me. For starters, neither of us was in waders, and then, we didn't have a shucking knife. Yes, we could have purchased these items, and tried to figure out what the hell we were supposed to do with them, and perhaps, in a future visit, we will. But there wasn't much time left in the day, so we drove a little further to Hog Island Oyster Company, where they have free valet parking, and an oyster bar that will prepare a platter to your specifications.

On the way in, we walked by tanks of huge oysters, which, coupled with the salty air, started my pavlovian response:



We placed an order and scored the last open picnic table at 4:20 or so, just 10 minutes before they stopped serving.


So, we sat and enjoyed the view.


And, after the professionals shucked and laid 'em out for us, we gleefully put away 24 of the freshest oysters we've ever had.


We had plans in wine country the next day and it was only an hour drive from the oysters to Santa Rosa, where we stayed the night.

Saturday, the first time bay area fun continued with an art tour at Clos Pegase and the tram tour and tasting at Sterling Vineyards. Although both of these are considered wine country institutions, for some reason, neither E nor I had ever made it to either of them.

And finally, we enjoyed a big family-style meal with E's childhood best friend's family at Ad Hoc.


The menu? Bread and butter. Stuffed cabbage with mushroom risotto. The best pork chop of my life with sides of mustard sauce and broiled fennel. Sticky Toffee Pudding.

The service could use a quick lesson in manners, and there is a 2 bottle limit on corkage which is applied per table, even if you have a table of 9, unless you make a fuss. But, the food was amazing, and I'm not kidding, it literally was The. Best. Pork. Chop. Of. My. Life. So, overall, I have to recommend it.

In fact, if you are looking for a great quick bay-area get away, I highly recommend the drive to oysters, followed by the drive to wine country for a delicious dinner (or two) and some wine tasting. The ability to have this experience on a whim is definitely one of the better things about living here.


Arvay said...

Second to last photo ought to be painted by Osias Beert. :)

bt said...


Your command of Flemish painters never fails to impress me.


Arvay said...

I've always wanted to be known for a command of Flemish painters. :)