We’ve recently acquired an obsession with oysters. Nearly every time we see them on a menu, we order half a dozen…often followed by half a dozen more. (Insert joke about oysters being an aphrodisiac here). In order to consider ourselves ostreaphiles, we felt the need to go straight to the source and explore these bivalve mollusks. Luckily, Los Angeles is just a short road-trip away from the Pacific Northwest, home to a number of world-class oyster farms.
Hog Island claims the favorite title. If you live in Nor Cal and have yet to visit Tomales Bay, we urge you to schedule a day trip ASAP. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and spend an entire afternoon on Hog Island (pack a picnic, bring plenty of white wine) and bask in the breathtaking views of they Bay, while you enjoy a seemingly endless supply of oysters: raw, grilled, baked or fried.
Terry Sawyer, co-founder of Hog Island Oyster Co., shares an oyster cheat-sheet:
There are five edible species:
Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica)
European Flat Oyster (Ostrea edulis)
Kumamoto Oyster (Crassostrea sikamea)
Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas)
Olympia Oyster (Ostrea conchaphila)
Hog Island grows four varieties:
Pacific aka Sweetwaters – These are large, plum and sweet, as the name suggests.
Olympia – Smallest in size but biggest in metallic finish.
Atlantic – Delicate, briny, and more common on the East Coast.
Kumamoto – Originally from Japan, mild, fruity, buttery flavor—said to be the easiest to love.
Pro tip: Now that you’ve got that down, learn to shuck and don’t be afraid to slurp — it’s part of the fun!