Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Farm, Hog Island Oyster Company

Friends invited us to go north to eat oysters near Bodega Bay. They were aiming for the Hog Island Oyster Company 'The Farm' on the Tamales Bay, CA (just northeast of Point Reyes N.S.) at 20215 Highway 1, Marshall, CA.
We met up at their place in San Francisco and drove the Golden Gate Bridge north, then traveled over toward the coast. They came prepared with ingredients to prepare sauce for oysters, beer, fruit, cheese and pita crackers. We brought wine, as we didn't know what else to expect.
Upon arriving along the crowded coast (an unusually warm and sunny day for this time of the year), we took advantage of the free valet parking. There is substantial remodeling happening on the property, so fencing barricades lead us north, then west around a building. Our immediate view was of a crowded group of warm (nearly 70 degrees), and sunny revelers. We hunted for an available picnic table.
Note: ~6 picnic tables along the outside (by the fence) are by reservation only (call ahead); ~6 picnic tables + 1 stand-up table 'inside' the semi-circle of outer tables are first-come-first-served (and sharing is encouraged--if not necessary!) The other difference between the outer and inner tables (all outdoor) is that the outer tables require self-shucking of the oysters and have ~89 cent oysters available, and the inner tables have house-shucked oysters for ~$2 each. Obviously each has it's advantage, plan ahead.
Atlantic Oysters
Our host ordered one-dozen barbecued oysters and two-dozen raw small-sized "Sweetwater" oysters. When those were done we had two-dozen raw "Atlantic" (type, not raised there) oysters. 
Small Sweetwater Oysters
Temporary storage for harvested oysters, Hog Island Oyster, Co.
All the oysters were fabulous as they're all farm-raised a 100 yards away by 'mud flats'/on oyster beds, then stored a short time in containers where fresh bay water flows in and out (so the water doesn't become toxic).
It was fun to go to the source and drink all the bring-your-own-beverages, and accompaniment food in a relaxed setting. The Bay Area's weekend-idle riche (guy sporting a "Facebook developer" t-shirt, former 'Lehman wife'-turned-'Google wife' with a large ring some would inadvertently assume costume, etc.) unintentionally congregated to this local like Surat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." A french bulldog was our table-mate for the glorious foodie afternoon.

Monday, January 23, 2012


When one has the town with the highest per capita Michelin Stars (due to one demi-god-like chef), there's bound to be competition. Some of said chef's employees were hired to give the north-end of Yountville, CA a young, hip vibe. Was invited to the second night of pre-opening (friends and family) of a casual eatery REDD WOOD at 6755 Washington Street, Yountville.

We woke before the crack of dawn to put in a full day's work, then made the two hour trek north to our 'home away from home.'  After more than four days of rain, it finally cleared in time for our drive through San Francisco.

REDD WOOD has a sleek, spare 'clean subway' meets 'rustic elegance' decor within the charming and tiny Hotel Luca complex. We sat at the bar.
Hubby began with a gin drink ('209' gin made by a winery owner nearby--Leslie Rudd) and shared meatballs.  These had a texture I admire--meaty, not mushy, and definitely included pork in the ingredient mix.
We sat by the 'meat locker' or curing room.
A shared 5 piece charcuterie featured the house-created cured meats. The restaurant also makes all their bread and the extra-long grissini.
I had the winter vegetable salad with green goddess dressing.
Hubby ordered the lamb bolognese with risotto balls (arancini). The sauce was what one would expect from a nicely textured and meaty-tasting bolognese.
The roasted potatoes were good cold the next day, the fried brussels and cauliflower were excellent and memorable.
For dessert we shared a chocolate caramel tart with hazelnuts and toffee cannoli.  The desserts were perfection.  It was the best cannoli I've had.  The chocolate caramel tart was rich and smoothly textured with the nut and crisp crunchy crust.

Note that the menu will change from day-to-day.  Open for dinner to late night.  Do serve wood-fire pizzas.
Our evening was so lovely that we were most pleasant to one another afterward.  So, I suppose that says something about a meal:  one that's better than years of couples therapy (not that we've had any).

In the end, if I had to make a judgment, would say it's a great place to hang out with friends and have a snack.  Unable to wrap my brain fully around choosing to dine at REDD WOOD over my favorite restaurant.  (note that Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc restaurant are both undergoing several months of renovations)  Do believe that REDD WOOD restaurant is a fun, comfortable place to enjoy friends and food (+ it has a full bar).