Hog Island Oysters
My parents were in town two weeks ago, so I took Monday off and we drove up to Petaluma and then across to Tomales Bay. It was a clear blue day, and the grass on the hills was in perfect late summer gold. In Petaluma, we stopped at the seed bank, an outpost of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company that has set up shop in a lovely old bank building. My parents picked up some beans, new lettuce seeds, and postcards. I brought back a packet of flamingo pink swiss chard seeds that are just now sprouting in the cooler-planter in the front yard, now that the tomatoes and peppers are hitting the end of their lives. I think two dollars for neon pink chard is some of the best money I’ll ever spend.
I was especially excited about chard after seeing the vegetable gardens at Filoli Gardens earlier in the weekend. The formal gardens are lovely, but I have a real soft spot for the working gardens. As impressive as the pools and hedges and formal beds are, it’s the vegetables and the cutting gardens that really get me. I liked the kitchen in the house better than any of the other rooms, too – but maybe it’s just that I can’t imagine living in the rest of the house or in the formal gardens. I can only really see myself living in the working quarters, in the kitchen, picking chard from the garden.
After our stop in Petaluma, we drove west to Tomales Bay, where it was cool and foggy. We stopped at the Hog Island Oyster Company and had a dozen Kumamoto oysters in their outdoor picnic area. The people next to us were clearly experts – they brought a table-cloth, flowers, champagne, asparagus, and coal to grill their oysters and clams on the barbeques in the picnic area. We weren’t so well prepared, but were happy to eat them raw, fresh out of the bay, with a little bit of lemon for good measure.