National Oyster on the Half Shell Day
In Marin County, oysters are a cultural and culinary staple.
And considering how most of Marin is bordered by water (be it the San Pablo Bay to the east, the Gulf of Farallones to the south or the famously oyster-oriented Tomales Bay that cuts through most of West Marin), it makes sense that locals and visitors alike flock to the coasts to find only the freshest oysters mother nature has to offer.
And, with March 31 marking everyone’s favorite obscure but official food-related holiday, National Oyster on the Half Shell Day, there’s no better time to celebrate by sucking down some succulent shellfish.
Luckily, locals looking to observe this national holiday don’t have to shell out for a seafood foraging license to get fresh oysters here in Marin (though that’s always an option). Instead, consider these plentiful options for optimized oyster enjoyment.
Left Bank Brasserie’s Oyster Fête
Marin’s favorite fine-dining French restaurant, Left Bank Brasserie, is taking National Oyster on the Half Shell Day very seriously indeed—in fact, this local gem of a restaurant has grand plans for its gourmand guests, plans that span from March 31 to April 2 in an event the restaurant calls their Oyster Fête.
For the oyster occasion (and occasional oyster), the knowledgeable Left Bank Brasserie staff has hand-selected only the best of the ocean’s offerings so guests may dine and delight in a sommelier-approved menu matching perfectly-paired wine with sumptuous shellfish.
This fête at Left Bank promises “mollusks and merriment,” according to the website, at their annual celebration of all things oyster. The oyster extravaganza is available all day during the Oyster Fête. Regular menus are also available.
The menu for Left Bank Brasserie’s Oyster Fête includes the following: a dozen assorted premium oysters for $45 with the addition of the specially selected sommelier wine pairing for each oyster variety costing an extra $20 (well worth the investment).
Four types of oysters will be served for the fête, each unique and all mouth wateringly delicious. The first oyster, representing stunning shellfish local to Marin, is the Point Reyes Oyster from Point Reyes, described by Left Bank as having “an elongated and rough shell with an intricate display of irregular folds and meat with a mild, nutty flavor.” This oyster will be paired with Charles de Cazanove Brut Tete de Cuvee Champagne.
The second oyster type to be served at Left Bank’s annual Oyster Fête is the Kisu Petite from Desolation Sound, British Columbia. This oyster, described as “plump and sweet with an initial brine, followed with the crisp finish of Bosc pear,” will be served with a wine pairing of Trimbach Pinot Blanc.
The next oyster, the Samish Pearl, comes from Puget Sound in Washington and is described as having “full firm meat that relinquishes delicate cucumber notes and a crisp salty brine.” The Samish Pearl will be served with an exquisite Domaine Laroche Mas la Chevalière ’18 from Pays d’Oc, Languedoc, France.
The last oyster variety to be served at Left Bank’s fête is the Humboldt Gold from Humboldt Bay, described as a “beach-cultured oyster from Humboldt Bay featuring full, plump meats
with a medium brininess and a delicate, buttery flavor.” The Humboldt Gold will be paired with Hugel Classic ’19 from Alsace, France.
For more information or to make a reservation at Left Bank Brasserie, located at 507 Magnolia Ave. in Larkspur, visit LeftBank.com or call 415.927.3331. For Petite Left Bank, located at 1696 Tiburon Blvd. in Tiburon, visit petiteleftbanktiburon.com or call 415.910.1010.
Food and Farm Tours: Oyster Lover’s Tour
Another way to celebrate National Oyster on the Half Shell Day in Marin County is to attend an Oyster Lover’s Tour at Food and Farm Tours. This tour offers a comprehensive and immersive oyster experience spanning across Tomales Bay’s most significant oyster outposts—those who attend can expect to sample a wide variety of local oysters, as well as learn more about the deeply rooted local history of oysters in Tomales Bay. This oyster experience is, of course, accompanied by stunning views of the very waters from which many of these oysters came.
The Food and Farm Tours: Oyster Lover’s Tour begins with a trip to the boathouse (located at the end of Nick’s Cove pier), in which attendees can learn all about the local oyster farming history. This segment of the tour is accompanied by a board of local cheeses.
On the next stop, just a short drive away from the pier and with the stunning Tomales Bay view the whole way, there is the Marshall Store and Tomales Bay Oyster Company. There, guests may taste local oysters and experience the full spectrum of oyster preparation and enjoyment: from house-smoked with BBQ to raw on ice with lemon wedges.
The next stop on the Food and Farm Tours: Oyster Lover’s Tour is Hog Island Oyster Co. There, attendees will have the opportunity to taste everything from raw “Sweetwaters” to more BBQ oysters (topped off with Hog Island’s chipotle bourbon butter). All of these tastings, again, will include the breathtaking view of the bay.
Finally, the Oyster Lover’s Tour will end with a return to Nick’s Cove and the roadhouse restaurant, where guests will dine on oysters done three ways while also enjoying a specially paired mineral-driven local white wine. All this to say, anyone thinking of attending the Oyster Lover’s Tour had better really, really love oysters.
The Oyster Lover’s Tour takes place on Mondays and Fridays from 11am to 3pm. The tours are $225 per person, and each tour has four to six guests. Food and Farm Tours is located at 80 4th St. in Point Reyes Station. For more information, visit the website at foodandfarmtours.com or call 415.599.9222.
The Marshall Store
The Marshall Store, which was aptly dubbed the best spot for oysters, a view and good vibes in last year’s Best of Marin Pacific Sun series, is a prime location to celebrate National Oyster on the Half Shell Day. Though the restaurant itself isn’t throwing a party for the occasion, they’ll still offer the same high-quality oysters, drinks, sides and service they always do—and hey, the Marshall Store’s $2 raw oysters on Thursdays tradition continues, which just means celebrating everyone’s favorite national oyster holiday a day early.
The Marshall Store is located at 19225 Highway 1 in Marshall. For more information, visit the website at themarshallstore.com or call 415.663.1339.