After having my fill of summer in Foggy Bottoms, it was time for a trip to one of my favorite corners of the San Francisco Bay. For the uninitiated, a peaceful meandering west on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard through the dew kissed communities of Fairfax, San Geronimo and Lagunitas past the redwoods of Samuel P Taylor State Park to Tomales Bay, I urge you to explore this gorgeous coastal region.
First stop, the quaint, bucolic hamlet of Point Reyes Station. After passing Gallery Route One and noticing that the annual Box Show was on, we squealed the tires and did an abrupt U-Turn to take in the cornucopia of creativity that lies in the hearts of West Marin inhabitants. Ground rules, “150 artists get the same sized pine box. You can do anything to the box you want to as long as the box remains in the final piece.“
After we’d had our fill of artistry, we were hungry for a different kind of sustenance. I cannot tell a lie, my true calling was in fact a return to the hallowed Marshall Store for barbecued oysters. Marshall is a spit of shoreline with a population of 50 perched on the cerulean shores of Tomales Bay; a bay known for it’s clean water that’s home to several aquaculture farms that cultivate some of the best oysters, mussels and clams. Eddie and I had been to the Marshall Store before and enjoyed the Fruits de Tomales on the terrace overlooking the bay. I had fond memories of fresh grilled oysters served in a few scrumptious incarnations:
Grilled Oysters with a Dollop of Smokey Sweet BBQ Sauce
Grilled Oysters with Chorizo
Grilled Oysters with Spinach and Three Cheeses (Rockefeller)
Smoked Oysters perched on a Herbed Goat Cheese Bruschetta
For the raw oyster lover, the same screamingly fresh oysters can be enjoyed on the half shell swimming in a mignonette sauce. All of the oyster platters are garnished with big hunks of toasted Brick Maiden garlic bread to sop up the divine juices.
The Marshal Store has a menu of soups and sandwiches that are a pleasant surprise for a minute coastal California village. Marshall Store makes a clam chowder that rivals some of the best I’ve tasted in New England. Their sandwiches: Dungeness Crab or Guinness Slow Roasted Pulled Pork with a Red Cabbage Slaw. Both served on the Brick Maiden bread and garnished with crispy house-pickled carrots.
On our way back down Tomales Bay toward San Francisco we made one last stop in charming Point Reyes Station to visit Toby’s Barn. Toby’s is a cultural center of the village with a burgeoning selection of local food products, books about West Marin, cards, t-shirts, plants and designer chicken coops that will make any raccoon scowl. Of course while I was there I had to make a stop into Tomales Bay Foods, home to the original Cowgirl Creamery. The girls were in the midst of making a batch of Red Hawk (an especially pungent washed rind cows milk cheese). I was thrilled to see a pannier of Adriatic Figs in the produce stand. Adriatic Figs are quite rare treat. Outside they resemble a Kadota enrobed in a chartreuse chemise, crack one open to find a sweet pulp that tastes a bit like raspberry jam.