I took a road trip with my youngest son this summer to shuck and suck the illustrious hogs of Tamales Bay, a 15 mile long narrow inlet of heaven & salt. Grey fog blankets, green brackish waters and tarnished silver oysters create a calm muted palate. Hog Island Oyster Co. planted its first seed (or spat) here in 1983. The founders were marine biologists by day and farmers at night – the first to be certified as “Sustainable Shellfish Producers” by the Food Alliance.
Shucking is not for the all-you-can-eat buffet lover. The knife is difficult to maneuver and must be precisely inserted into an elusive soft spot on the oyster to successfully pry it open. Many a hand has slipped in eager desire to suck the salty bivalve. Hog Island provides thick rubber gloves, used by novices and professionals alike! Every one earns their brine-filled delight here. On the foraging satisfaction scale, shucking is right up there – surpassed only by my saltwater dreams of plucking oysters from their wild beds.
by Seamus Heaney
Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.
Looking back from the other side of Tomales Bay.
Looking up Tomales Bay towards Tomales Point and Bodega Bay.