Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drake's Bay Oyster Farm: A Shuck Your Own Adventure

Getting ready to work
After enjoying the delicious oysters at the Marshall Store, we were emboldened the next day to visit Drake's Bay Oyster Farm in Inverness to try our hand at shucking our own oysters. Drake's Bay supplies 40% of California oysters and can be found at fine restaurants all over Point Reyes and the Bay Area. Neither of us had ever shucked oysters before so we watched a couple of youtube videos the night before which made it look like a piece of cake. We got to Drake's Bay around 11am and got a brief tutorial on their oyster farming operations right there on the estuary. Then we bought a paper bag full of 2 dozen size small oysters pretty much straight from the water, and a bag of ice and got down to serious business. We sat at a picnic table on a beach of oyster shells right by the estuary where they were hauling oysters out of the water. It was pretty cool. Drake's Bay is even more rustic than the Marshall Store, since it is an oyster farm first and foremost, it's just a one room store with some refrigerated chests. We brought with us: 1 oyster knife that I bought from Surfas a few weeks ago, a couple of kitchen towels, a roll of paper towels, 1 bottle of hot sauce from the Palace Market, a couple of meyer and regular lemons from our friend's house, a basin for rinsing the oysters, a knife, a cutting board, 2 plates, 2 plastic cups, bottle of 2006 Morgan Metallico Chardonnay from Monterey (more wedding wine), freshly made local organic wood-fired Brickmaiden Bread from the Bovine Bakery, and delicious Point Reyes Farmstead cheese from the Palace Market. I would say that we were well equipped for our oyster adventure.
We started by rinsing the oysters in the basin and scrubbing them with wet paper towels, and then put them on ice on our plates. I'm not sure everyone washes their oysters, but we just wanted to be on the safe side since we were consuming them raw. There proved to be a bit of a learning curve with shucking oysters: it was hard to get the right initial angle and we cracked the top shell in half with a couple of them, but K. quickly got the hang of it and became quite the oyster shucking whiz, cleaning popping off the lids and scraping the oyster free from the top and the bottom with no shell fragments. In fact, his oysters were cleaner than ones that we had at Nick's Cove the following day. I never got the hang of it and gave up after one oyster, leaving all the hard work to K. I have to say, the oysters were really amazingly fresh and delicious: they were creamy and just a bit salty but not overly briny. I could have eaten dozens more, but K. was getting tired of all the work. It is a lot of work but it's worth it for the freshest oysters ever. They went great with the Morgan Chardonnay (also free corkage!).
The freshest oysters ever. And these were the size small; I'm scared to imagine what the XL would be like
Drizzled with a squeeze of lemon juice and hot sauce: perfection
I tried to shuck one but gave up
So I worked on eating while K. did all the hard work
The oyster farm operations right behind us
For dessert, we had the Toma and Original Blue from the local Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company with delightfully crusty wood fired brick oven Brickmaiden Bread. The cheese was just awesome; you could tell that it was made with care from the happy cows in the area. It's the best blue cheese I've ever had; wonderfully smooth and creamy and just a little tangy and so good on the beautiful crusty bread. I really liked the Toma too, it was mild, but had a nice nutty smooth flavor. I'll have to track down these cheese in LAs. It was a little chilly and overcast by the water, but between the delicious oysters, wine, cheese and bread, I was in heaven.
Drake's Bay Oyster Farm
17171 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Inverness, CA

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