Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shuckin' and Jivin'

Earlier this month we had another birthday edition of Team Brunch, and this time we hit the road and left the city to go oyster shucking at Tomales Bay.

Awww shucks....

It was a beautiful, warm day and I was super excited to eat oysters and be fancy. When I found out on the drive up, that we were not going to be served oysters, but would rather be shucking them, my mind conjured up images of our group, calf-deep in slushy water, scooping up oysters in fishing nets - drat: I shouldn't have worn white.

When I found out that we would remain on dry land, and that 'shucking' was in fact the action of cracking open the oyster shell, I settled back into my 'aren't we fancy, off to eat oysters by the water' mindset.

A gorgeous shucking day

Tomales Bay is beautiful, and when we arrived to our oyster-eating destination, it was packed! You sit right by the water, on one of the many wooden table benches, each one complete with its own bbq grill. Most people had laid out some pretty impressive picnic spreads, and whilst my first thought was 'damn, we should have brought cheeses, and dips, and salads, and and and...' by the time we finished our seafood spread, I was glad that we stuck to bringing just bread, crisps, wine and lemons as accompaniments. After all, what's the point of going somewhere for seafood if you end up bringing a whole bunch of other stuff to eat?

The menu at Tomales Bay Oyster Company is cheap (hooray!) and basic - you can buy different sizes of oyster, as well as clams, muscles and hot sauce. You can then eat them raw or bbq them. We did both! When bbq-ing the oysters, (it's best not to use the smallest ones, as they shrink a little) you simply place the oyster shell on the grill and it pops open when it is done! This is a tasty way to eat them, and also means that you don't have to fiddle with trying to crack the shell open yourself. Personally though, I think the raw oysters had the slight edge for me, as they were so fresh and delicious tasting, straight from the shell with just a dash of lemon and hot sauce.

Oh for shucks sake!

The shucking involved wearing a thick glove, with a marigold glove worn underneath (so as not to get your hand soggy with oyster juice) which you hold the oyster in, you then use a special little oyster knife to pry open the hinge where the two shell halves meet. It is at first a little trickier than anticipated, but once you have cracked open one or two, it gets easier, and there is something really satisfying about the ritual of it.

After this we drove a few minutes down the road to a cute little place and each got a small cup of clam chowder and watched the sun setting.

The perfect day, and an experience I would recommend to all oyster lovers and wannabe shuckers...

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