If you ask me, Tomales Bay Oyster Company is one of north bay’s best kept secrets. In fact, a lot of people in north bay like to keep north bay a relative secret, and with good reason – across the bridge and far from the madding crowd of the city, most places in north bay are a welcome reprieve from the constant presence of the tourism industry and its constituents.
Nestled in the Tomales Bay inlet about an hour north of the golden gate, TBOC appears to be pretty much just an oyster farm from the outside. If you drove past and it wasn’t crowded with people, you probably wouldn’t stop. But up until next weekend, this little oyster farm has hosted tons of people each Saturday and Sunday for group picnics supplied by a steady stream of just-caught oysters, mussels and other shellfish. The catch (tee hee, pun intended) is that you have to shuck them all yourself – so if you don’t like getting your hands dirty, TBOC is not for you. But for me, the shucking is half the fun. For $5 per head, TBOC provides groups with a picnic table and a small charcoal-fueled grill; everything else is BYO, including cookware, extra ingredients, beer and wine and extra seating. I also highly recommend you go early (to get a good table,) and stay late (um, because its beautiful.)
On Saturday, I drove up with a group of people for the day and we had nothing short of a five course spread prepared for us by a friend who has a particular flair for the culinary.
Freshly made guacamole and chips
Charcoal-grilled garlic bread
Mussels in a white wine beurre-blanc sauce
Grilled corn on the cob
Grilled asparagus spears
Dozens of fresh oysters au naturale
I have spent quite a few lovely weekends out at Tomales Bay since I moved to the bay area about a year ago, but unfortunately, due to Marin County code enforcement, the weekend picnics are going to be shut down permanently starting next weekend.
If you want to learn more about TBOC, click here.
And if you want to sign the petition to help re-instate weekend picnics at TBOC, click here.