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Hog Island Oysters: Chowdown #42

Windy | Sep 15, 200302:00 AM

11 lucky hounds gathered in Marshall this morning for a 4 star picnic at Hog Island oyster farm. After the 96 degree heat yesterday, I was bracing for an afternoon in the sun, but the fog had rolled in, and we enjoyed clear but cool skies and an unforgettable movable feast of oysters, clams, and the best bread, cheese, and produce the Marin farmers market and Gerhardt's fig tree could provide.

Oh, and several bottles of crisp, cool wines, including a slightly fizzy white I'd brought from Switzerland, three Chardonnays from Melanie's collection, a beautiful rose, a bottle of muscadet (probably the best suited to the raw oysters IMO), a prosecco, and a refreshing Pouilly Fume. (For better descriptions, you'll have to wait for someone who knows more about wines than just drinking them.)

After a quick lesson from Michelle, we were off and shucking, covering our oven mitts in oyster and poking and prodding and twisting. The first few were painful, requiring frequent tasting breaks.

We had oysters on the half shell, with several different bbq sauces and mignonettes, and grilled with butter. At $68 per 100 oysters, we could afford to spend the afternoon, and we were not alone. The picnic tables all filled up with friends, families, real hounds (including one that got away with an ear of our corn!). Salsa music gave our al fresco crowd a steady beat.

An enormous yellow squash sweetened up on the grill, as did the just picked, last of season organic corn. Cherry tomatoes, organic strawberries, cheeses from Bodega Goat Cheese and Spring hill plus an herb encrusted affinois and many more.

The piece de resistance was Aunt Ruby's manila clams in garlic butter, which we sopped up with sesame levain from Brickmaiden Breads. That and Steve's fingerbowls, which added a touch of class and eau du citron to the whole affair.

I'm sure I've left something out, but I won't forget to say thanks again to Melanie, for organizing a relaxing afternoon in a divine spot, where all the right elements came together, with little effort on my part except keeping my plate and glass full. I haven't laughed so much in a long time, and I prescribe a trip out to Hog Island for a reminder of all the great reasons why we live in Northern California.

We stopped at the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station on the way home to make sure we wouldn't starve if we hit traffic, and Chow Fun picked up snacks for the long drive back into the fog. I was partial to the ginger cookie, although the chocolate oat thingy was popular and the Dairy Queen seemed awfully happy with her Mexican wedding cookie.

By the time I got home, in desperate need of a shower, it was only half an hour until the final event of birthday weekend...dinner at Incanto.

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