It’s seriously a dream scape: you pull up on the side of a windy country road – lush, rolling green hills to your right, a sparkling bay to your left, then you see the sign: Tomales Bay Oyster Company. You park on the gravel lot, dogs run loose, the speakers play reggae and picnic tables are filled with lively parties. Asian families stew oysters in large pots over propane burners; young preppy twenty-somethings bbq oysters paired with beers and toasted buns; older couples hover over their grills and eat ’em straight or with a squirt of their homemade sauce – my girlfriend and I were in heaven; nevermind the obvious part of never eating the shellfish. We were there to enjoy the party.
Tomales Bay Oyster Co. is – you guessed it – alongside the Tomales Bay, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. It’s been around since the early 1900’s; needless to say, it has a cult following, Hog Island Oyster Co. of course being the other strong oyster purveyor in the area.
I’ve eaten a total of five oysters in my life; four of them being consumed within the past four months. It’s safe to assume I’m no oyster connoisseur but I’m well aware of the enthusiasm they elicit. Oyster ‘Happy Hours’ dot the SF scene, along with lively discussions of who has the best stock. So how were these little slimy sea salty creatures from Tomales Bay? Good? I think? They tasted fresh and bright with a mild hint of sea blended in the mush. I think I’ll be okay to barbecue the hell outta ’em next time or even fry ’em up into a po’boy .