It is starting to warm up and that means a visit to the Oyster Farms!!! I don’t know much about Marshall, California but there are a lot of Oyster Farms along Tomales Bay that s a body of water between the Point Reyes Peninsular and Marin County. It is about 30 miles from San Francisco and the drive up is gorgeous especially on a nice day out.
Nothing too shabby about eating oysters farmed right there and then, cleaned and sold live at an average of $1.25 a piece!! Why eat at a restaurant when you can go right to the source. An oyster farm equipped with a picnic area, BBQ grill, washrooms and all kinds of fresh oysters!
Once we parked, we head to the booth where there is a line of people waiting to buy oysters to check in. Met with a nice gentleman, got checked in and picked up our bags of oysters! Choices depends on the time we went, my visit towards the fall was a more extensive list while when I went in spring, it was about 4 choices available:
Note: The pictures in this post is from two different visits but nothing much changed during the two visits.
We got set up pretty fast with our grill and bench.
Tips for a great day at the farm
1) For any party more than four, it is beneficial to make a reservation at least a month ahead by calling their reservation line (415) 663 1243. This is key especially on nice days out because the place gets packed, even with the 3 dozen or so picnic benches, they fill up fast. Reservation of a booth cost $75, which is a large bench and space enough for 10, includes the Oyster Starter Kit: dozen oysters, bag of ice, shucking knife, shucking gloves, hot sauce, lemons and limes. Totally a great deal to pay for a spot and these key essentials.
The company is very organized, reserved tables have trays with labels (your name) and all the goodies listed above to get you started!
2) Do get there before 11 before it gets super packed.
3) There is a grill available but they do prohibit meat on the BBQ. However I have seen meat brought but grilled on foil on top of the BBQ. I would rather respect the wishes of the owners and bring either cooked meat/side dishes. I did bring a little roasting pan for cooking clams with butter, garlic, parsley, white wine and it turned out spectacular (not to too my own horn). This works with mussels too! And they do sell charcoal if you forget to pick up some.
4) Bring cash for purchasing of oysters, clams and mussels. Availability of the type depends on when you visit. My favourites are the Tomales Bay Golden Nuggets, Kumamoto, Clams and the Mussels. Full list of oysters available here.
5) Bring a cooler since your oysters have to sit in ice. If you don’t have a cooler, a beer carton works! (Learnt this the hard way when our cooler was filled with drinks and cheese). They offer some ice if you buy oysters there but they also sell ice at $3 a bag.
I have to say, this place is a well run establishment – they seem to think of anything you would need to enhance your experience. I do want to mention that parking is not fun at the Tomales Bay Oyster Farm since it is limited to about a dozen or more spots within the compound and every other parking spot is along the Highway 1. That said, the company is very organized, there is someone ushering cars when it is super busy. Everything from checking in to our 5 hour experience was great – trash was always emptied & buckets of shells removed to make room for more! You would get honest recommendations for which type of oyster to purchase depending on your taste.
This is definitely something to look forward to at least a couple times a year! Tomales Bay Oyster Company is open 365 days a year and closes at 4:45 pm.
15479 Highway 1
Marshall, CA 94940
(415) 663 1242