Oyster Shucking at Tomales Bay
Two weekends ago, my friend invited me to join her to go oyster shucking at Tomales Bay Oyster Company in Point Reyes. The excursion was a perfect way to bask in San Francisco's delayed (or prolonged) "Indian summer" and enjoy the last bit of sunshine and warmth of the season.
I felt very lucky to go this weekend for two main reasons. First, I had been wanting to go for a very long time, as it's definitely a Bay Area must-do. I hadn't yet made it to Tomales Bay because I always got intimidated by the amount of preparation needed. To get the full experience, you needed to make sure you had lots of supplies (e.g., tongs, napkins, gloves for shucking, rags, plates, etc) and food (all the oyster toppings like horseradish and hot sauce, as well as other items you want to barbecue). You also needed to make a reservation or get up very early (leaving the city around 8:30 am) to snag one of the picnic tables on weekends, and getting up early on the weekends is intimidating all by itself.
The second reason I felt lucky to go was that Tomales Bay was permanently closing its picnicking area the following week (i.e., yesterday). Basically, Marin County asked them to leave, as the popularity of the site led to a lot of complaints from local residents, particularly around traffic unsafe parking along Highway 1. The company will still sell oysters, but you won't be able to shuck them fresh on the site. I didn't realize that it was the penultimate weekend of picnicking until we got there, so I'm very glad I said yes!
Anyway, I don't want to ramble on too much longer. The experience itself was great. I learned how to shuck oysters, which can be difficult, but after a while, I was able to get into a rhythm.
With good weather, music, food, and company, I couldn't have asked for anything more!
P.S. Although Tomales Bay Oyster Company is closing its recreational area, you can still go get fresh oysters and head Drake's Beach (45 min away) where you can grill, or any of the nearby beaches in Point Reyes. For a packing list, I just recommend bringing:
- Sharp oyster shucking knives and gloves or rags to protect your hands
- Lemon, hot sauce, horseradish, cocktail sauce, any fixings you want!
- Other food you want to eat
- Coal, lighter fluid, and tongs if you're grilling
- Drinks, including lots of water for the heat!
- Napkins, plates, utensils
- Aluminum foil
- Garbage bags