Monday, October 13, 2008

Oysters and White Wine

The good thing is that I live within a short drive from several oyster farms, supplying oysters to San Francisco restaurants and stores, and my birth month has an "r" in it. Not that it matters much in Northern California - the Pacific water here is so cold all year around that the oysters can be grown anytime - but the "r" months are the traditional oyster season, and it feels nice to honor the tradition. The bad thing is, it's also the flu season, and I managed to get the bug just a couple of days before my birthday party at the oyster farm. Well, at least I was getting better by the time of the party, and already could feel the smell and the taste again, just had to be careful not to get too cold. On a warm sunny day like this, and wearing a heavy scarf and warm socks.

My friends and I like to go to Tomales Bay Oyster Company because it is somewhat protected from the ocean breeze, so it's usually a bit warmer here than on other farms, and it has picnic tables and barbeques.

They grow Pacific oysters on floating trays right in front of the beachside picnic area, and sell them by the dozen at a counter on the dock. The oysters range in size from extra-small (delicate flavor, best for eating fresh) to jumbo (for the grill).

On a rare warm and sunny Saturday the place gets very busy, so it's hard to find a table, and there's a line to the sales counter. Whole extended families come, with the kids, dogs, coolers of beer and wine, marinated meat for the barbeque, and all their photo and video equipment.

We were lucky to get a weathered wooden table next to the office, where a huge oyster-colored cat was sunbathing on the front porch, lazily waiting for us to open and offer him an oyster.

Once you have a table, go buy a bag or two of the freshest oysters you can get anywhere. My friends are experts at opening them by now, and all have their own favorite oyster knives and Kevlar or silicon gloves. Bay Area geeks are serious about their gadgets, be it electronics or cooking utencils. In truth, all you need to open an oyster is a screwdriver and some caution, but it's fun to show off all the gear.

Now it's just a squeeze of lemon, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp New Zealand wine works best of all, although Australia or Coastal Sonoma are all good.


Fatcat said...

Of course, it had to be a cat around.....

Emily said...

Have you ever had Puget Sound Oysters? If you'd like to try them... four dozen of them, check out our contest at All you have to do to enter is tell us what you'd do with 48 free oysters.

amarillo said...

Thank you, Emily! I probably won't participate in the contest, since I mostly eat my oysters raw, with just lemon juice, and someone already said that, but I loved reading the recipes and the stories. I've tried Puget Sound Oysters a few times in Seattle, and they are excellent.