Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hog Island Oysters

Oysters grow in sea water, but require relatively still water rather than crashing ocean waves to mature. Luckily we live only an hour's drive from Tomales Bay, an inlet protected by the Point Reyes Peninsula, perfect for raising fine oysters. Heading straight to the source on a gorgeous day, we sampled three types, Hog Island Kumamotos, Hog Island Small Sweetwaters, and Tomales Bay Oyster Co's Medium Pacifics. The Kumamotos are a specialty of the Hog Island Oyster Company, small, about four can fit in the palm of an average hand, with a creamy flavor, slight sweetness and a neutral brine in each little shell. I've never tried to bbq these as they are just too small and delicate tasting for the grill. They are great with a little bit of mignonette sauce or just plain. We also enjoyed the Small Sweetwater Oysters from Hog Island, these are about twice the size of the Kumi's, filled with a saltier brine, but the oyster meat itself is sweeter. Again, the smalls are also too small for bbq'ing.

Left are small and extra small sweetwaters, Right is a bag of fifty kumamotos.

Barbequing at Tomales Bay provides some hot food to balance the chilled raw oysters. Tomales Bay Co's Pacific Oysters are great for grilling. The medium is just the right size, enough for one big bite. They are large and meaty enough to stand up to a fire, but not so gigantic that they are fleshy and flavorless. A few minutes on the grill and they pop open, a minute more and the meat is juicy and tender cooked in its own brine.

Nothing beats eating oysters at the source and shucking them yourself while enjoying a view of Tomales Bay with other oyster fans.

Left is a Hog Island Small Sweetwater and Right are five Hog Island Kumamotos.

I brought home some kumamotos and had them the next day. They can be stored in a cooler on ice so long as they are not sitting in melt water.