Ah, how I missed living close to wine country and other wonderful food cultures! Although Northern California is a bit more pretentious than my beloved South Australia, it’s still a damn great place to explore food.
For this road trip, we made stops at a popular cheese shop and a local winery to gather goodies for our oyster barbecue at Hog Island Oysters in Marshall (just north of SF) on Tomales Bay.
(Okay, TECHNICALLY, we went to the cheese shop, did the bbq and then went to the winery, but if I had to do the day over again, I would definitely squeeze the winery in BEFORE the barbecue, so we could have wine with our oysters. Trust me. It’s just better this way.)
Cowgirl Creamery is an artisan handmade cheese shop created in 1997. They use organic milk from their neighbors, Straus Family Creamery, and they have continued to kick butt and win awards ever since.
We bought some of their Red Hawk, which they were making that day, and some camembert, and an $8 loaf of artisan bread that I totally would have not bought had it actually had a price tag on it. Our friends also grabbed a few, but I forget the names. Here are the photos though, so enjoy the food porn!
Next, we headed to Sunce Winery in Santa Rosa. I like wine as much as the next person, but my favorites are dessert wines, anything from ports to moscatos. So that was my focus at Sunce.
Then it was time for Hog Island Oyster Company.
It helps to make a reservation for a picnic table in advance, so you can ensure to get a grill.
Although you can buy it all there, you might also want to bring lemons, charcoal and starter sticks, tongs, towels, rubber gloves for shucking, snacks, side dishes, and most important–alcohol. You can order a picnic pack, which gives you tools for shucking and a few lemons, along with a receptable to dispose of the oysters with.
From there, you pick out what you want to eat and how much of it.
From there, it was up to use to either shuck ‘em and eat them raw, or to throw them on the barbacue. I had already made a basic cocktail sauce, and we had plenty of lemon wedges and hot sauce to eat the oysters raw.
Although we didn’t bring any charcoal, we managed to convince our neighbor to share his heated grill and we practiced our bbq skills. The best part of the picnic was when I walked around the picnic area to different groups to see how they were barbecuing their oysters and other sea goodies.
We saw families with tons of little kids grilled them whole, then shucking them, others grilling on the half shell. One group used an Argentinian herb marinade that had lots of garlic and parsley in it, and I even stumbled upon an huge Asian family that was grilling chicken wings alongside their steaming little clams.
I can’t wait to go back armed with a few more friends, recipes, charcoal and beer! What a great first road trip.
Road Trip Itinerary:
COWGIRL CREAMERY AT TOMALES BAY FOODS
80 Fourth Street
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Phone (415) 663-9335
Fax (415) 663-5418
Wednesday through Sunday, 10am – 6pm
Friday morning tours at 11:30am and 3:00pm on select summer days.
Suncé Winery and Vineyard
1839 Olivet Road
Santa Rosa, California 95401
Tel: 707-526-WINE (9463)
Open Daily 10:30AM – 5:00PM
Hog Island Oyster Company
The farm is located at 20215, Highway 1, in Marshall, CA. 49 miles north of San Francisco, 10 miles north of Point Reyes Station and 23 miles south of Bodega Bay.
Open 7 days a week, rain or shine!
Monday – Sunday
9 AM – 5 PM
Contact (415) 663-9218 ext. 208